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A Christmas campaign to capture the consumer

Posted by Stephanie Gilchrist - Marketing Manager at PHMG on

Consumer spend is at a year-round high, so there’s a lot at stake for businesses during the festive season. Therefore, a carefully considered marketing strategy is key. With budgets, global audiences and content saturation all to take into account, devising the most effective approach is difficult. Yet with a message in the right channel, you can appeal to the consumer in a way that penetrates the din of Christmas promotions at their peak. Read on as we discover exactly how businesses are putting their marketing budgets to best use this holiday season.

The festive season has always been prime time for marketing spend, but in recent years, this output has really reached its peak. Every year in the US, $205.06 billion is devoted to media advertising, with much of this reserved for the holiday season. And in the UK, British brands are expected to spend £6 billion on festive advertising this year, with £1.2 billion of this devoted purely to TV. These figures have risen by 40% in the last seven years, illustrating how important seasonal marketing is to UK businesses. As Leo Rayman, Chief Executive of leading agency Grey London points out – “you have to create a big moment of impact in popular culture. A bad Christmas can make or break a brand.”

So what exactly are these mega-budgets being spent on? In the UK, it’s on a phenomenon known as the John Lewis effect. Since the department store began premiering spectacular Christmas ads back in 2007, the reveal of their features have become something of a cultural event – and grown as synonymous with the season as the renowned Coca-Cola truck. This has inspired many other brands to do the same, and today, almost all the big retailers are working to outdo each other with spectacular short films that rival Hollywood blockbusters. Rather than directly sell, these ads create a positive feeling around the brand with emotionally charged plotlines, and this works very effectively to send customers through the doors. Seeing the success of this strategy, many US companies have followed suit. Traditionally, this style of advertising is more associated with the Superbowl in North America (an occasion when the ads are as much of an event as the game itself) – while holiday campaigns tended to be more focused on sales, discounts and limited-time-only promotions. Yet this year, the likes of Macys and HP developed sentimental, high-concept shorts akin to John Lewis et al. HP’s ‘Reinvent Giving’ advert united three apartment block dwellers with a little help from one of their tablets, and the film took pride of place in the breaks of prime-time shows like Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon.

While ads like those discussed above have proved successful in the past, the sheer increase in these examples could lead to the emotional power being somewhat lost. And with so many festive features around, desensitisation is at an all-time high – as is the risk of aggravating consumers with holiday campaigns that creep ever earlier into November. Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly important to speak to customers in a channel that guarantees a truly captive audience, such as time spent on-hold. While TV ad breaks, billboards, social media and more are packed with all things festive, customers may not be expecting to receive a little holiday cheer while they wait for their call to be answered or transferred – making this the perfect time to pass on a seasonal message. And what’s more, this channel presents the perfect opportunity to combine varying marketing strategies. A script can feature prompts written to strengthen the identity of a brand (much like John Lewis and co. do with their full-scale features) – while promoting special offers or sales for the season, and providing vital customer information on holiday closures or final posting dates. With this multifaceted benefit, it’s an addition to a strategy that really ticks every box.

While many retailers are developing show-stopping holiday campaigns, there’s one sure fire way to perfect a holiday strategy – a festive audio branding production that really speaks directly to consumers at the most important time.




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