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Image of Excitable Edgar the dragon and his best friend, a redhead girl as part of John Lewis Christmas Commercial.

Creative Christmas marketing

I love Christmas. From Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ to festive flavoured food treats, the seasonal holiday gives me *all* of the feels.

For context, I’m British and have a warped ‘Love Actually’ view of Christmas, even though it rarely snows and Hugh Grant never knocked at my door on Christmas Eve when I lived in London.

It can be hard to describe that Christmas ‘feeling’ but it’s those kind of ‘Love Actually’-type emotions that make us believe in the spirit of Christmas… Cue creative Christmas marketing by brands looking to gain traction over the festive season.

Embracing commercialism

One of my favourite things about Christmas, actually, in the UK is the rife commercialism. Just to be clear, spending time with friends and family is obviously the most important thing about Christmas (before I sound completely heartless). But, every year, I get excited at the prospect of watching Christmas ads that will make me cry, the latest brussels sprout infused food (this year it’s crisps) or discovering something new – like Greggs is now selling pigs in blankets! Greggs please come to New Zealand.

Sure, some of the naysayers are sick of the commercialism, but I say we should embrace it. Where would we be without a bit of healthy competition and creative marketing? It makes Christmas more entertaining and a little bit more fun for all of us.

John Lewis – the King of creative Christmas marketing

At the top of their festive game is retailer John Lewis – who – for the past ten years – have invested millions every year in creating moving, quality content for their annual ‘Christmas ad’ that heroes a key product. They of course then inevitably sell out of that product.

It’s a clever move that has paved the way for John Lewis arguably owning the key trading time in the UK. By creating emotive content, they’ve become renowned for their Christmas tearjerkers year-on-year with content going viral day of the release. Now, retailers across the globe have joined the bandwagon and battle it out each year to create the ‘best Christmas ad.’

Strong creative

At the heart of this marketing tactic is a strong creative that resonates emotionally with viewers. Ten years ago, Christmas tearjerkers were made exclusively for TV; fast-forward to 2019 and we’re seeing a new direction of advertising content, one which is crafted for both traditional television, and digital environments. In a world where the lines between traditional and digital marketing are becoming blurred, with budgets favouring online performance and impact, there’s a real need for content that works no matter the platform.

The result? Content that performs exceptionally, providing opportunities for PR coverage and long-lasting impact.

The best Christmas ads

I’m not ashamed to say that last night my partner and I spent half an hour watching John Lewis Christmas ads from over the years (he might be though). What other brand can you say has created appetite to watch owned content from the past ten years?

So, to celebrate Christmas 2019, put Mariah on Spotify, embrace the port and stilton flavour crisps and check out our top picks from the John Lewis ads across the past decade and celebrate creative Christmas marketing.

Excitable Edgar

This year’s video was one of our favourites. White snowy landscapes and medieval times combine with a cute little dragon to give you all of the Christmassy feelings. Some say it’s about friendship and some say it’s about loyalty. But, whatever it’s about, it might just bring tears to your eyes.

Man on the Moon

John Lewis joined forces with Age Concern to highlight loneliness amongst the elderly at Christmas. One of my absolute favourites, it makes me think of my nanny and grandad and the elderly over the festive season… I cry every time I watch it.

Bear and the hare

A tale of friendship and an alarm clock, this animated advert featuring a soundtrack from Lily Allen cost £1m to make and features a hare and a bear created by some of the artists behind Disney’s Lion King. Its premiere took up an entire ad break during X Factor one Saturday night in 2013.

NZ brands get in on the act

Closer to home, this year’s NZ Post’s ‘Ho Ho Hush’ ad brings a little bit of magic and some cheekiness to Kiwi Christmas.

And a couple of years back, Farmer’s were one of the first Kiwi brands to get in on the act with this touching tale of a grumpy man and his new next door neighbours.

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