Christmas is around the corner and most of you are wondering how marketing and advertising are going to pop this year. The entire year of 2016 has been so exceptionally frazzled with less consumerism and more real-world drama that it’s going to be both a challenge and a sigh of relief to indulge in some holiday goodness.
The holiday ads are starting to roll out. Last week, we were introduced to popular British brand and shopping destination, Marks & Spencer, shared their much-loved holiday campaign. They went with the traditional theme of Santa Claus delivering his gift and added a twist – Mrs. Claus. The entire ad was focused on a very common and much-loved tradition of children asking for gifts, and of course, Santa Claus delivers them as expected. Yet, riding the brilliant wave of feminism that has blossomed in so many areas this year, Marks and Spencer threw the spotlight on a modern feminist interpretation of Mrs. Claus and her secret tools to get the job done. Part Batman, part entrepreneur. It’s a side of Mrs. Claus no one has ever seen or imagined.
So what was the secret formula they used? One part tradition, one part modernism and a dash of feminism. Folding in modernism and feminism into a holiday campaign is incredibly tricky and most people couldn’t have pulled it off. But by centering the campaign around one of the more time-honored traditions and myths, Marks and Spencer knocked it out of the part.
Also knocking it out of the park was Amazon UK which when in an entirely different direction. England has had its fair share of political issues that have complicated interfaith relationship and even common good among people. Amazon UK featured an ad very much in the spirit of interfaith relations by showing an imam and a vicar in a spirited company who then end up buying each other the same gift. The ad was great to show how people are – at the end of the day – the same despite having different belief systems. However, notably, there was no mention of holidays, Christmas or even seasonally inspired gift-giving. This will inevitably trigger a backlash by some people who hold local culture in high esteem and feel that it’s been slipping away from them each year. I’d also say that in light of zero holiday mention, Amazon UK escapes – or exiles itself, depending on how you want to look at it – from the Christmas season and reduced itself just to a utility. Amazon UK doesn’t anywhere near capture the spirit of Google’s Reunion ad campaign that warmed hearts all over the world.
And then finally we have Heathrow Airport’s Christmas advert that tells the story of two traveling stuff animals – two bears. With their old-fashioned wardrobe, waddling, and looks of wonder, the bears express the spirit of an elderly couple making their way back. The song of choice pushes that story along. The end is heartwarming and I won’t spoil it for you. I would say out of the three Heathrow wins the prize. It’s simple and pulls at the heartstrings without trying to be clever or politically correct. At the end of the day that’s all people want; at the very least it’s a guaranteed win among folks.