Christmas Commercials and Why They Work

Illustration of two people sitting on the couch watching TV. TV features Santa Clause

Have you ever wondered why Companies would spend millions per year on commercials at Christmas that can only work for one to two months of the entire year? Might seem like a bad investment, however, Christmas advertising works, and here’s why!

Iconic Imagery

Christmas ads have their own unique look and feel. You should instantly be able to see one in between your scheduled entertainment and instantly connect “Oh, wow it’s nearly Christmas”. That’s all to do with Iconography.

IRN-BRU’s 2011 Advertisement was based on the Christmas classic short: “The Snowman” and provides that Winter-esque symbolism we’ve grown to connect with Christmas. From a Snow-laden, Winter wonderland to Urban Christmas lights and a tree to match. You can instantly watch this alongside many Christmas advertisements and know instantly what it’s about.

Social Commentary

Even though some would prefer their advertisements to be apolitical or lack commentary of topical events and movements from the year as a whole. Some companies use the opportunity to help raise awareness of an issue which overall can help the company’s reputable grow.

UK Supermarket chain, Iceland got into a spot of bother with their ad in 2018 however when their planned Christmas advertisement was banned in the UK for being “too political”. They tried to raise awareness of the use of Palm Oil in food products, which they were also eliminating from their own-brand productions in-store.

Here at Makematic, we started a video series on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which you can watch and take part in with the whole family! Here’s more info: https://makematic.com/promo/un-sdgs/

Melody

Christmas music over the years has changed dramatically, however, those classic Christmas tracks hold inter-connected qualities that are instantly recognizable.

Coca-Cola got into a habit of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in regards to their recurring, melodic theme song as their UK commercial in 1995 showcases:

Overall, this was a branding success for Coca-Cola; providing that deja-vu factor while instantly becoming a Christmas classic in advertising.

Storytelling

Storytelling is key, the aim is to take the viewer on a journey. Usually fantastical in nature e.g. including Santa Claus and sometimes with an emotional aspect to tug on the heartstrings as Christmas builds up.

Research by Kantar found that “storytelling was a feature of 80% of Christmas ads between 2015 and 2017, compared to the 40% average for the rest of the year”.

Amazon Prime’s 2020 Christmas ad entitled “The show must go on” showcases a young ballet dancer whose spirit and tenacity triumphs through the challenges of 2020. All with a little help from her family and community – a feel-good narrative, that anyone in the family can relate.

We love the work of Amazon Studios which is why we’ve recently partnered with them to produce a series of Educational resources connected to their Amazon films; Radioactive & The Aeronauts.
Why not check out our collaboration – right here.

Family-Friendly

Christmas is a time for kids, and advertising should reflect that. The success of your commercials during the Christmas period is highly dependant if you can inspire and connect with the demographic you need to impress the most to gain sales – children.

Even though children are key, it’s the parents (alongside Santa, of course) that are required to make the deal happen. Keeping commercials kid-friendly while allowing for a narrative that parents and all can connect to is overall the best way to capitalise on your investment – as has been the case previously in Christmas advertising.

Demand is High

The month of December for many outlets usually provides their best sales for the entire year! With some outlets like FAO Schwarz gaining nearly half of their entire revenue for their store products in that one month alone!

John Lewis has been synonymous with their Christmas advertisements. It’s been reported that they spent approximately £8 million on their 2018 commercial featuring Elton John.

The question is, however, is it a worthwhile investment? A John Lewis spokesperson stated to the BBC: “Our ads always deliver an excellent return on investment at a time of year that is critical for us, generally delivering 20 times the return on our original spend,” a spokeswoman tells the BBC.

At Makematic we understand high demand, especially due to COVID-19 the need more than ever for effective, online educational content that can be utilised by educators, parents and students of all ages during this shift to online-based learning.

Looking for American History? Why not check out our Untold series for free here: https://untoldhistory.org/. You won’t regret it!

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Published on: December 15, 2020

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