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

Blockbuster Christmas campaigns are not to everyone’s taste. In the third and final instalment of our Christmas series, we take a look at the socially responsible route to festive advertising. 

Today, we meet the responsible retailer…

In these times of austerity, a growing number of the public have expressed a desire for companies to spend money donating to good causes in lieu of big budget ad campaigns. According to the Cooperative’s recent consumer research, 86% of shoppers think too much is spent on Christmas advertising.

In response to these findings, the Co-op has traded in its big marketing budget for the gift of giving. The retailer will take a low-cost approach to its Christmas advertising, instead opting to donate nearly £19m of potential media spend, to local communities and charities. A wise decision perhaps, given that 75% of UK adults say they are more likely to shop at a retailer who give to a good cause.

The title of the most controversial Christmas ad this year must be given to Iceland. The grocer’s animated campaign, which highlights the harmful impact of palm oil products on rainforests and Orangutans, has been banned from television for breaching political advertising rules. (The ad was made produced in partnership with environmental organisation Greenpeace). 

Advertising regulator Clearcast’s decision has caused a social media frenzy. Iceland’s advert has now gone viral, with 90,000 retweets and over 30 million views online. What appeared to be a disaster has become a success story over night, leaving many wondering: Was this Iceland’s plan all along? 

Final thoughts

Clearly, there is something to be said for all of the approaches we have looked at over the last week but we’ve found that the advertising route pursed by retailers really is dependent on their brand. 

Consider this. Although Iceland’s ad seems a far cry from its usual Christmas offering, it is very much in keeping with the brand’s recent focus on sustainability - this year, it became the first supermarket to commit to eliminating plastic packaging and palm oil from its own brand products. 

This begs the question: Can one type of Christmas ad conquer all? 

Recent figures would suggest the big-budget Christmas ad is losing its sparkle, as consumers say they are beginning to place greater precedence on corporate social responsibility and money saving measures. In keeping with these straitened times, retailers are showing restraint and the Advertising Association predicts a £44m fall in TV ad spend over the final quarter. 

This is not to say, however, that the king of the Christmas ad is no longer pulling at our heartstrings. A recent survey found that John Lewis’s festive offering is still coming out on top, although Iceland’s ‘Rang-Tan’ wasn’t far behind. 

Is spreading socially responsible messages the new Christmas cheer?

Only time will tell. 

To let us know which type of Christmas ad you buy into the most, visit us on Twitter.

Categories: Opinion Marketing