Gemma Greaves, Global Managing Director of The Marketing Society, shares her thoughts on what makes Christmas such a special time of year for advertisers.

Written by
Gemma Greaves
Published
December 2016
Topics

In recent years, the advertising industry has gone bonkers for Christmas ads. This festive frenzy seems as important to UK industry as the Super Bowl is to the US - an opportunity for marketers to pull out all the stops in an effort to grab attention and create meaningful connections with their customers.

Through The Marketing Society, I hear about our members’ excitement as they plan their campaigns all year round - in fact, for most of them, work on next year’s ad starts almost as soon as this year’s is launched. I think what drives a lot of this excitement is the fact that Christmas is not just an important retail period, but a chance to reach out to people in unexpected ways - whether that’s bringing a bit of humour or a bit of magic into the living room.

“In 2016 we’re seeing some of the big names taking risks and breaking with tradition in their ads.”

There is a great sense of anticipation as we wait to see what the big brands have in store for us at Christmas and I love seeing the friendly rivalry between Marketing Directors as they see what others have produced and where they end up in the ratings. In 2016 we’re seeing some of the big names taking risks and breaking with tradition in their ads. John Lewis have tugged at our heartstrings in the past, but this year they’ve made us laugh, which in a year of uncertainty, feels very clever and apt. Likewise, Sainsbury’s have been incredibly brave, inviting viewers into a musical narrative - very different from their previous offerings, trusting that they’ll be engaged throughout, holding the brand reveal for the very end. By focusing on story and surprise, these brands are creating huge ‘talkability’ - which is key to gaining attention at this time of year.

“There’s fantastic creativity out there, and brands that are able to fire the public imagination are doing brilliantly from it.”

And of course, I don’t think we should underestimate the contribution of YouTube to the rise of the Christmas ad. Gone are the days when you had to wait for a break in a primetime show to find out what your favorite brand has in store for you this year - you can go to YouTube, watch the videos and hear what the rest of the world is saying. Then of course there are all the response videos - reviews, parodies, you name it - there’s fantastic creativity out there, and brands that are able to fire the public imagination are doing brilliantly from it. I love Christmas.

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Gemma Greaves is the Global Managing Director of The Marketing Society. Throughout her career she has believed in, and championed three things close to her heart: being brave, the power of connections and the belief that together we can make a difference.