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

Christmas Commercials and Why They Work

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!

Illustration of young girl sitting at her desk in front of a laptop with books and school supplies

10 Reasons Why Educational Videos Are Super Effective

Throughout history, educators have learned through no small feat that in order to connect learning with students, they must adapt their learning resources into what works with each new generation. For Gen Z and Alpha, online videos is the way to go. You probably already know that however, so let’s explain ten reasons why educational videos are super effective for students.

#1 – Engagement

Numerous academic studies have been released on how video increases motivation and deeper learning, while also being able to specifically impact students’ ability to facilitate discussions and identify problems.

Want to learn more about the science behind it? We deeply recommend reading Cynthia J. Blame’s ‘Effective educational videos’ from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

#2 – Accessibility

Let’s be honest, accessibility is still an over-looked subject even in 2020 but leaps and bounds are being made to make digital equipment & the virtual space it connects to far more accessibility to a wider range of people, particularly with disabilities.

From subtitling to audio description to transcripts, accessibility is finally becoming more mainstream and we at Makematic continue to discuss what steps we can make to do our part with our own content.

#3 – Portability

Print media is, unfortunately, becoming a thing of the past, especially for the new generations. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, is the need for trustworthy digital, learning resources that can be shared and used immediately around the newly-formed online classroom.

Unsure where to find video content for your students that will work on a wide range of devices? Why not check out our ever-increasing, educational video series on the Makematic VOD available on:

#4 – Ease of Production

You don’t need a PhD to make an effective, learning video, although it may certainly help! As long as you have access to a decent smartphone, you have all the tools at your fingertips to plan, produce and edit an educational video on a subject you love.

For kinesthetic learners, and students with learning disabilities e.g. Dyslexia. Video is a great tool alongside other resource mediums to help overcome barriers when trying to increase your student absorption of cognition & knowledge.

#5 – Replayability

Have you ever re-watched a film or television series and suddenly noticed new things that you didn’t pick up the first time you watched it?

A great benefit for video-based learning is how it allows anyone to pause, stop, rewind, and other timeline manipulation factors that can impact an individual’s learning experience. Unlike the traditional classroom or a group lecture, learning via video – you’d never have to miss something again, just as long as you can re-watch, you can always go back and re-absorb any missing info.

#6 – Visual Factor

Now, I love a good book from time to time, but even have to admit that video is only as good as the source material that inspires it. But that’s not to say the visual element of video is powerful and more appealing to learn from, particularly for my attention span.

Articles, journals, essays and more may feel more offputting to generations raised on television & online video. However, when you combine multiple sources of educational resources together with students, I truly believe you can get the best out of them.

#7 – Authenticity

Humans love to connect with fellow humans and if online video platforms such as YouTube & Twitch have taught us anything, it’s that having a human narration or even industry experts within your video adds a level of user connection that can be lost in translation through other forms of learning resources.

When we released our Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) series, we had this in mind. The free-to-watch series contains numerous industry experts in the education industry. Why not check it out: https://tom.makematic.com/.

#8 – Collaboration

Successful learning is not just an individualistic experience. Having the ability to work with other people opens the conversation for feedback, ultimately providing students with inter-personal, social skills and the ability to take constructive criticism.

Video is a fun way for your students to create brainstorms and group learning experiences that can allow them to see easily their input to an educational topic while giving them that level of passion needed to connect to the subject matter in ways other mediums may struggle.

#9 – Contextual

Unlike relying on just reading literary materials, video provides strong visual cues. These help learners understand what’s happening, even when the language and prose is hard to follow.

Utilising infographics, source material and first-person accounts within your video help provide that much-needed cognitive downtime when learning and help keep the overall topic visually-stimulating.

#10 – Creativity

Video-based learning is a creative process, even when covering a specialist, STEM topic. It opens cognition to not just utilise the logistic side of your brain, but also your creative side too.

Creative thinking is fast-becoming one of the top employability skills for the future generation and by striving to incorporate video into your classroom, you allow the possibility for your students to begin to train themselves in these fundamental skills going forward.

We strive to inspire creativity through our videos, particularly for subjects that don’t get the reach they should. Just like our Untold Series where we delve into the fascinating history topics throughout the History of America.

Image of two sets of lists

10 Reasons Why Our Brain Loves Lists

Top 100’s, 31 Flavours, 8 Reasons Why, even something as simple as your grocery – psychologically we all love a good list and for educators, it’s an essential tool for engaging educational content with students.
Here’s ten reasons why we should embrace the power of a list:

  1. Providing order to chaos 
    Lists help organise our workflow into manageable chunks. A list is powerful for its ability to show hierarchy, key-points and it’s overall ability to summarise large outputs of data.
  2. We’re too busy for anything else 
    More note-worthy for younger generations with the notion of a “ain’t nobody got time for that” philosophy. Our brains like lists, as it’s essentially a cheat sheet for the brain. Lists allow us to scan information readily and remove that pesky ‘filler’ (and prose) giving us just that juicy, sweet info that we need.
  3. A list is definitive
    As humans, we are put-off by uncertainty. Context can be misinterpreted especially within modern-day language and cultural barriers. However, a list is engaging, simple-to-comprehend and hard to misconstrue thanks to going back to basic with dividing content through the most basic of tools at our disposal – numbers.
  4. Interaction guaranteed
    For students, lists provide an educational learning mechanism wherein they try to guess what could be coming up next in the list. Specifically for aesthetic learners, this is a tried-and-tested tool for educators that can make a real difference for real-time educational input across multiple learning-types.
  5. You know what you’re getting into
    At a simple glance, we know what to expect before we click onto that video or open that illustrious blog post. For example:
    a) only 5 items, “I have time for 5 items”
    b) or it’s a top 100 list, “I better give myself a few minutes”
  6. They make us seem smarter than we actually are
    If it’s a long list, it implies we have a wealth of knowledge surrounding us, however even if it’s a small one-digit list, then it implies we know our stuff so well, we are able to condense it into just the fundamentals. Either way, you can’t lose!
  7. Enticing the unenticed
    Utilising even-numbered lists implies that some didn’t make the cut, it invigorates the brain to find out which did and which didn’t, whereas odd-number lists entice just as much: 8 rules? 31 flavours? 51 ways? “Why did they choose such an odd number, that 51st one must be interesting!”
  8. They free us the burden of having to remember
    With lists, everything has its place there’s no stress… “why worry, it’s already on my list”, read top to bottom and nothing gets missed start it today, add to it tomorrow, refer to it next week. Reducing stress, providing goals and helping any large task seem more manageable.
  9. The brain wouldn’t have it any other way
    Whenever we encounter new information, our brains immediately try to make sense of it. Putting things in a list format makes it much easier to digest and it saves time as well, tricking our brains into assuming it’s more efficient than perhaps it actually is.
  10. Here’s your reward
    Lists give us that dopamine release that rewards completion of tasks or reaching a new goal within our human DNA.  It pushes us to finish the list once we start, as we can see where the end-goal is.

    As you’ve finished this list, here’s a cookie along with a helpful injection of dopamine. Here’s to the power of a list!
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