The Commercial Side of Christmas II: Who Does Christmas Best?

In the second instalment of our Christmas ad series, we take a look at when corporates go comic with their festive advertising.

Today, we go to the comedy club…

For those who favour the more humorous approach to Christmas advertising, retailers have got you covered. Each year, we see a handful of brands poke fun at the festive season in a bid to attract consumers to their products.

We have seen an array of comical contributions so far this month. These have ranged from the excessive, such as Asda’s over-the-top celebration of the effort it takes to come home for Christmas, to the subtle - see Lidl’s humorous hints on how to ‘Upgrade Your Christmas’.

Perhaps the most talked about instalment in the category this year is the return of Aldi’s ‘Kevin the Carrot’. In its third year, the campaign has remained true to the brand’s challenger identity, as viewers watched Kevin drive a very recognisable truck off the edge of a cliff. Coca-Cola is not the first victim of Aldi’s spoofing. In 2015, the retailer directly mimicked JL’s ‘Man on the Moon’ campaign.

Aldi’s use of a character-driven advert has enabled them to use Kevin as a tool to extend the campaign from television to social media. In this year’s effort, the closing image of Kevin’s truck hanging off the cliff includes the words #SaveKevin – a move that has encouraged consumers to spread the word across online platforms, even sparking a response from Coca-Cola themselves. They tweeted: “We are here if you need us Kevin”. The retailer follows in the footsteps of John Lewis, which has been branding its festive ads with hashtags since 2012. Highlights include #MozTheMonster and #BusterTheBoxer - the latter becoming the most shared advert ever at the time.

It could be argued that Aldi’s advertising has gained a touch of sophistication over the past three years, through this combination of classic story telling and humour. The creation of a character-centred campaign not only makes consumers laugh, but also drives emotional relevancy for product purchases. Argos has followed a similar route with its ‘Christmas Fool’ campaign - an embodiment of the frustration felt when things inevitably go wrong over the festive period.

The effectiveness of Christmas humour has not been missed by the fast food industry. In perhaps the funniest offering yet, KFC presents the wintery journey of a chicken, where it meets its ultimate enemy: the turkey. The two birds battle it out in a Wild West-inspired standoff, before the chicken predictably reigns supreme and we are left with the words: turkey comes and goes, but chicken’s here to stay. A not so subtle reminder that KFC is open 364 days a year, Christmas day being the only exception.

Not to be left out in the cold, McDonalds have also upped the comedy stakes with this year’s campaign. Set on Christmas Eve, the advert features a set of hungry reindeer, forgotten about by each family they visit. Enter Santa Claus and a McDonald’s carrot bag, or should I say ‘reindeer treats’.

There is no doubt that this year’s Christmas campaigns have real comedy value. The real question is, which one made us laugh the most?

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Categories: Opinion Marketing