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Luxury Brands Get Down to Earth in Christmas Adverts 2020

Chelsea Davies

Author Image: Chelsea Davies
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The Coca-Cola Caravan. The John Lewis Advert. There are some Christmas adverts that have become institutions of advent, letting you know without doubt that the holidays are coming.

Whenever we look at rundowns of the best in Christmas advertising, we see supermarkets and highstreet brands garnering most of the attention. In 2020, Christmas adverts have had to acknowledge the coronavirus pandemic, or risk undermining their brand as out of touch. This disruption appears to have created a change in the creative style of luxury brand advertising, allowing the Christmas adverts of Gucci, Barbour, Burberry and more to stand out in a way they usually don’t. 

christmas adverts

In this article, we investigate how luxury brands adverts are cutting through this festive season. We looked at which brand’s TV adverts are most likely to create brand affinity, which creative styles are most popular among luxury advertisers, and how digital campaigns can work alongside high-end TV adverts to extend their impact.

With a year of crisis coming to an end, the festive season has been brightened by moments of humour and dreamlike scenes. For 2020, luxury brands that succeed have leveraged sustainability and youthful, emotional stories in both TV and digital marketing.

What Makes a Great Christmas Advert?

Research shows that, for a Christmas advert to build year-round success for a brand, it needs all three of the following:

  • Clear Branding – The creative must be clearly linked to the brand
  • Something Unique – It must differentiate the brand from others with similar products
  • A Meaningful Message – It must connect with viewers on an emotional level

For brands positioning their products as premium, the luxury market requires a little extra communication on top. Quality, heritage or the promise of an experience all signal luxury, and most brands in the category leverage a mix of all three across their marketing mix. Whether these elements can pivot to reflect the situation this year will determine which brands come out on top.

Luxury Fashion Brands Bring in Christmas 2020

The KIJO team decided to put luxury brands Christmas ads to the test. We compared them against 4 key metrics that we believe if executed perfectly, would deliver long-term marketing success. 

  1. Brand Memorability
    For that fuzzy Christmas feeling to become associated with a specific company, the audience needs to remember who the advert represents. 
  2. Uniqueness
    A unique offering is crucial to set a brand apart, especially during silly-season when it seems like we get a new tear-jerking Christmas advert every day.
  3. Emotional Content
    People connect with brands on an emotional level. A meaningful ad will go a long way to building customer loyalty.
  4. Luxury Status
    This wouldn’t be a luxury brand comparison without opulent ads selling high-end products. For a brand to earn its place in the luxury market, their ad needs to effectively communicate luxury and quality.

A Whimsical Festive Journey from Hermes

Hermes’ Christmas advert is animation, done elegantly, with intricate illustrations and a pastel background against which brightly coloured products pop. The viewer immediately sees the classic circular Hermes scarf box, in its signature shade of striking orange. Set amidst a snowy scene, the box telescopes out into a cartoon train, beginning the audience’s journey. Transforming into a propeller plane midway through, it’s a distinctive, other-worldly animation, that leads you through a sky and solar system filled with Hermes merchandise. For the imaginative transitions and unusual styling for a luxury brand, we’ve rated their ‘Uniqueness’, 4/5.  

The luxury products are positioned front and centre in this land of dreams. It’s high fashion, delivered whimsically. The Hermes scarf, a key brand identifier, appears throughout the clip alongside their latest handbags, sneakers, accessories and homeware. With frequent flashes of recognisable pieces, you’re constantly reminded that this is a Hermes ad. For this reason, we’ve scored their ‘Brand Memorability’ a 4/5.

Aside from the products themselves, there is little that communicates the brand’s luxury status. If you don’t already know the brand, it’s difficult to ascertain the quality of the products from this advert. As such, their ‘Luxury Status’ rating sits firmly in the middle, with a 2.5/5. 

christmas adverts

Lacking any human interaction, it’s difficult for Hermes to pull on any heartstrings. With no emotive storytelling, our ranking for Hermes’ ‘Emotional Content’ is only 1/5. Having said that, the dreamlike sequence does offer a much-needed momentary escape from reality. The bell chime in the opening seconds incites excitement in the pit of your stomach, as only Christmas bells can. The distinctive chimes and tinkles are heard again as the plane skips over Hermes branded safety pins. However, it seems as though these festive elements have been tacked on to an otherwise all-year-round ad. The ‘gift me a dream’ slogan appears centre screen at the end, again within an orange back-drop, wrapping up a minute-long escape from the Christmas frenzy. 

Brand Memorability: 4/5
Uniqueness: 4/5
Emotional Content: 1/5
Luxury Status: 2.5/5

A Luxurious Christmas with Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s 2020 luxury Christmas advert is a blend of artistic visuals and interwoven narratives. The creative aim was to encapsulate the feeling of the much-anticipated journey home for Christmas. Rather than focusing on one story, the ad projects a sense of collective excitement by depicting multiple characters as they all wend their way to their loved ones. With snowstorms, fairy lights and parties in full swing, they have included all the major hallmarks of Christmas. 

However, Louis Vuitton’s emotional tone may miss the mark with viewers. A long year of coronavirus pandemic restrictions has dampened any anticipation for the usual Christmas reunions. Poor tact and timing have left Louis Vuitton with a 1/5 score for ‘Emotional Content’. 

The audience’s attention is immediately captured by a fast-paced montage, with the juxtaposition of product close-ups, glamorous models and at-home scenes. Models are silhouetted in backlit, multicoloured doorways, which alternately light up in sequence with the familiar classical music. 

Flitting between multiple scenes, the ad feels jarring. Low-coloured lighting suggests a moody nightclub, which is at odds with the music. Similarly, the wholesome at-home scenes don’t fit with the overall aesthetic choice. Winnowing down their choices to deliver a more consistent tone would have been more effective. As it stands, we have ranked their ‘Uniqueness’ a 2.5/5. 

luxury brands

The name, ‘Louis Vuitton’, sits centre-screen in bold, white lettering. This immediate, dramatic and effective branding continues throughout, with close-up shots of branded products every few frames. We’ve ranked their ad a 4/5 for ‘Brand Memorability’. 

Of all the adverts we’ve featured here, Louis Vuitton is certainly giving us luxury. Celebrity appearances, shiny gifts, opulent interiors and affluent characters, all combine to portray wealth, comfort and luxury. For this reason, we have given them a 4/5 for ‘Luxury Status’.

Brand Memorability: 4/5
Uniqueness: 2.5/5
Emotional Content: 1/5
Luxury Status: 4/5

Family-focussed Festivities at Barbour

Created by critically acclaimed author and illustrator of The Snowman, Raymond Briggs, this advert will be a family favourite. A boy asks Father Christmas for help to repair his father’s Barbour jacket. Father Christmas attempts, unsuccessfully, to mend the jacket, before turning to the trusty Barbour factory workers in South Shields. The advert wraps up with the delighted family off on a winter stroll, Dad in his newly-mended heirloom. It’s a heartwarming and thoughtful message that every family can relate to, for that, we’ve given it 5/5 for ‘Emotional Content’.

Branding is a success here, as the Barbour logo appears several times throughout. Their signature green jacket is also a consistent feature. We’ve scored a 4.5/5 for ‘Brand Memorability’. 

It’s unusual for a brand to advertise a repair service, rather than new products. While not depicting luxury in the usual way, the story successfully showcases Barbour’s outstanding customer care, quality craftsmanship and the longevity of their products. With the emphasis on heritage, inheritance and comfortable country living, their ad depicts a different kind of luxury compared to other designer brands. 

Brand Memorability: 4.5/5
Uniqueness: 4.5/5
Emotional Content: 5/5
Luxury Status: 3.5/5

A Celestial Christmas from Chanel No.5

The opening scene is unmistakably French, with the new face of Chanel No. 5, Marian Cotillard, standing against a stunningly snowy Parisian backdrop staring at the full moon. The audience is transported with her as she imagines dancing on the moon with her partner, Paris Opera Ballet dancer, Jérémie Bélingard. 

It’s an otherworldly concept that sets Chanel No. 5 apart. The characters don’t take themselves too seriously, with quirky movements and even the odd stumble. The luxury is apparent, she is bedecked in a gold embellished dress while he’s in a smart suit, yet it’s still refreshingly fun. Brilliantly combining a unique story with luxury details, we have scored both a 4/5. 

For couples watching, the advert provides a touching moment. As it’s potentially less meaningful to singletons or busy families, the ‘Emotional Content’ drops a point, getting a 4/5. It does, however, gain from creating a glamorous dreamscape out of a setting reflective of isolation. Dancing on the moon suggests that, even without the usual festive social gatherings, we can still afford a little luxury.

The music is a cover of Lorde’s 2013 hit, Team, sung by Cotillard herself. The repeated lyric, ‘and we’re on each other’s team’, is a wholesome message that loudly rings out. We can also testify, after watching endless Christmas adverts, this lyric is incredibly catchy.

luxury christmas adverts

Partnering a classic French fragrance with a famous French actress in a Parisian scene is no doubt a smart branding choice. But for viewers unaware of the connection, there’s no obvious branding until the end. It is only then that the product appears on the screen. Chanel No. 5 is playing the long game here, but with a famous actress, a tried and tested aesthetic style and a soundtrack with such a recognisable lyric, we think it will work.

Brand memorability: 3/5
Uniqueness: 4/5
Emotional content: 4/5
Luxury status: 4/5

A Cheeky Nostalgic Number with Gucci

Imagine a 90s office Christmas party, throw in statuesque staff and outfits worth thousands, and you’ve got Gucci’s Christmas advert. In just over a minute, a 1994 office Christmas party unfolds. Set to Alison Monet’s 1980s hit, ‘Only You’, it gets your foot tapping without you even realising.

The relief of turning off your office monitor for the Christmas break is palpable. The whole scene is nostalgic, light-hearted and very tongue-in-cheek. Older audiences will chuckle at the nods to 90s office culture, with boxy computers and retro software, while younger viewers will ache for the return of normality so they can join the festivities once more. It’s not the classic family Christmas, but unique emotional content for those of us living through the working-from-home era. As such, it’s a 5/5 for us for ‘Uniqueness’. Set in 2020, this advert would have missed the mark, fortunately, the comic nostalgia outweighs any tactlessness. 

christmas ads

All the characters look stunning in Gucci’s latest line. The ad is peppered with close-ups on their accessories, which are used within the story of the party to make this more natural. For example, a group laugh about photocopying one colleague’s gold Gucci bag. Branding is consistent, with Gucci’s logo hard to miss. The classic office showboating ensues, with people showing off their glad rags. Gucci’s products are to be admired, but any pretentiousness is solely for comedic value.

The ad ends with a glitter strewn office desk and ‘#GucciGift’ displayed on the screen. It’s a call to action to put your best foot forward and make someone happy with a gift from Gucci.

Brand memorability: 4/5
Uniqueness: 5/5
Emotional content: 3/5
Luxury status: 3.5/5

Fearless Camaraderie in the Face of Adversity from Burberry

The ad shows four dancers, bedecked in Burberry’s A/W 2020-line, dancing through London’s Petticoat Lane to an acoustic arrangement of Singin’ In The Rain. A metaphor for the difficult year we’ve all lived through, enormous hailstones smash down to the pavement, spurring them to dance out of the way. In the closing scenes, one of the dancers arrives at a beach and runs into the sea, falling back into the water as the brand name appears centrally on the screen. 

This is a unique, unexpected concept for Christmas season advertising. Aside from the timing and wintry conditions, there’s little to indicate it’s a festive advertisement.

The idea was inspired by Burberry’s history as a clothing supplier to Arctic explorers. With consistent flashes of Burberry’s signature tartan check throughout, we’ve given it one of the highest ‘Brand Memorability’ scores of 4.5/5. Their pieces easily stand up against the elements, as the protagonists weave, swerve and smash their way through the ice blocks. This showcases the quality and mobility of the product, but what’s interesting is the emotional associations. 

luxury trends

It’s not the usual traditional Christmas storyline, but it still delivers a heartfelt message. There’s a camaraderie between the dancers, as they laugh and smile, carefree and casually dodging whatever challenge comes their way. The theme of standing together in the face of adversity rings through and is likely to resonate with consumers.

In the closing shot, there’s a sense of release as one dancer runs, arms open, into the ocean. This contributes to the sense that Burberry is fearless. They are a brand meeting challenges head-on, and their clothes arm you to do the same. In 2020, this messaging walks the line between recognising the global crises that can’t be ignored and providing a powerful hit of optimism.

Brand memorability: 4.5/5
Uniqueness: 4.5/5
Emotional content: 3/5
Luxury status: 2/5

Luxury Food Adverts Celebrate Christmas 2020

Not Just Any Christmas at Marks & Spencer

M&S have again reworked their classic advert for Christmas 2020. Their original tagline, ‘This is not just food… This is M&S food’, created 15 years ago, has been tweaked for the festive season. It’s not ground-breaking, but it is uniquely M&S. Our ‘Brand Memorability’ score is an impressive 5/5. With a format, soundtrack and tagline that have become synonymous with the brand, not to mention celebrity voice-overs, it’s immediately comforting and familiar for the viewer.

Slow-motion shots of their Christmas range of food and drinks are described in soothing voiceover by actress Olivia Coleman. This is the first of 9 in a Christmas campaign, with each voiced by a different acting icon. Tom Hardy, Gillian Anderson and Eddie Redmayne are all set to join the club, and each has selected a charity to which M&S will donate in place of payment.

Products are the sole focus here and their quality is unmistakable. Olivia Coleman sounds relieved that 2020 is coming to an end and leaves it in the capable hands of M&S to bring luxury to everyone’s Christmas table. Her conversational voiceover makes sure the brand never takes itself too seriously. It is brilliant in its simplicity, reviving a hugely successful ad format to invoke luxury and opulence in seconds.

Brand memorability: 5/5
Uniqueness: 3.5/5
Emotional content: 1/5
Luxury status: 5/5

A Little Christmas Love with John Lewis & Waitrose

The John Lewis and Waitrose Christmas ad focuses on celebrating acts of kindness, big and small. It’s an amalgamation of several heart-warming Christmas narratives, each depicted with a different animation style. A recurring heart motif helps to visually tie the stories together. The ad works alongside their Give A Little Love Campaign, which is raising money for this year’s charity partners, Home-Start UK and FareShare.

While the amount of different animation styles is unique, the stories of neighbourly assistance and helping those in need is unsurprising. Nevertheless, it still incites the warm and fuzzy feelings everyone hopes for from a John Lewis Christmas ad. There’s emotional content coming at you from every angle, the little girl with her glasses and the lonely elderly gentleman just a couple of examples. Brit Rising Star award-winner, Celeste, wrote and recorded the advert’s catchy backing track, ‘A Little Love’. Its subsequent surge in popularity is testament to the success of the ad.

luxury web design

Branded bags and boxes appear throughout, bringing Waitrose and John Lewis to mind in an understated way. Luxury status hasn’t been their modus operandi this year, which is maybe a sign of the times. Focussing on good deeds and emotional connections is the optimistic, wholesome message we all needed at the end of 2020.

Brand memorability: 3/5
Uniqueness: 2.5/5
Emotional content: 4/5
Luxury status: 1/5

Luxury Branding in 2020: Do Brands Avoid Premium Messaging in a Pandemic?

Of the brands we have looked at, John Lewis & Waitrose, Barbour and Burberry have all opted for less premium branding. The storylines of each advert have been centred around family, kind deeds, and camaraderie. Hardly the decadent scenes and opulent gifts that you would expect from high-end brands at Christmas.

It’s normal for brands to reflect the times with their advertising, but has the trauma of 2020 meant that classic luxury adverts now seem a little distasteful? Conspicuous in their absence, Harrods and Fortnum and Mason are yet to release their Christmas ads.

Brands that have opted for outright decadence have received a mixed reception. Louis Vuitton’s advert of people returning home for Christmas is a little tone-deaf considering the current pandemic restrictions. Gucci’s office Christmas party could have similarly frustrated viewers, however, their trip back in time avoided antagonising audiences and instead provided some nostalgic, comedic relief.

luxury website design

Wholesome Messaging – The Best Option for 2020

Christmas adverts always come with a healthy dose of heart-warming narratives and acts of kindness. But this is a particular favourite for luxury brands in 2020. Given the year we have all had, it’s no surprise that focussing on emotional connections rather than decadent luxury has been more positively received by audiences.

Unlike during the first lockdown, brands haven’t reverted to Zoom-style ads and we still have a range of remarkably normal-looking TV Christmas ads. However, it has been a delicate balancing act of predicting and responding to changing public sentiment, while still showcasing luxury goods.

Most marketing teams creating a TV ad for Christmas would have begun brainstorming in summer, during the first lockdown. Like all of us, they were faced with an unprecedented challenge. How could they predict the future mood of the nation, during such a fluctuating, unpredictable time? Flaunting luxury products would surely look distasteful come Christmas if redundancies and restrictions continued as predicted. Would audiences be wearily resigned to the state of the year, desperate for it to be over and unreceptive to Christmas cheer? Would they be hankering for some escapism and open to some comedic relief?

Facing a hugely uncertain customer sentiment, marketers leaned toward wholesome messaging, which had the best chance of hitting the right note and connecting with audiences. It was a safe bet for brands to focus on the message of kindness, as people might not be in the mood for the usual Christmas frivolity.

christmas ads 2020

When creating a Christmas advert, companies have to consider where they will position their brand and how to go about it. Certain styles, such as animation, lend themselves better to more involved narratives and wholesome stories. Others, such as festive celebrations and celebrity appearances, suit big product launches.

Global pandemic aside, luxury Christmas adverts largely fall into several categories:

  • Animation
  • Celebrity
  • Christmas Party
  • The Wild Card (more on that later)

Choosing the right option depends on the aim of the campaign and what you want audiences to come away feeling and thinking.

Animation: Storytelling for Family Audiences

Frequently used for longer adverts, animation is usually the style of choice for longer narratives. Often used for entertainment, rather than advertising, audiences are more likely to pay attention to animated ads. Grabbing their attention from the outset keeps eyes on the screen long enough for your story to play out. Practically speaking, animated sequences don’t require reshoots and are much easier to create under current restrictions.

luxury website design
John Lewis 2020 Christmas Advert Animation

Animated adverts aren’t constrained to realism in the same way as live-action scenes. There are endless possibilities and brands can showcase their personality as imaginatively as they like. As it lends so well to storytelling, animated ads are usually the emotional heavyweights at Christmas, with heart-warming messages and characters loved by the nation.

Anthropomorphism has been a popular choice in recent years, with various humanoid animals as protagonists. John Lewis captivated audiences with The Bear and the Hare in 2013, and we’ve seen an array of brands follow their lead since. Audiences easily become invested in cute, make-believe characters, as they remind us of children or animals that need protecting. 

luxury brands
John Lewis’ 2013 Christmas ad – The Bear and the Hare

Animation in 2020

This year, Barbour used animation to excellent effect and was our highest scoring ad. Illustrated by the creator of ‘The Snowman’, their visual style inspired festive nostalgia from the outset. John Lewis took their ‘Give a Little Love’ message seriously, hiring eight different animation houses and artists to create the nine scenes for their Christmas advert. The variety created an inclusive advert that emotionally resonated with a wide-ranging audience. Hermes’ object-oriented ad suffered from a lack of emotion, although their otherworldly setting was only possible with an animated sequence. 

While it doesn’t convey luxury and opulence as well as some other trends, animation is the ideal choice if you’re targeting a family audience or have a broader emotional message to convey.

Celebrity: Boost Brand Desirability

To align your brand with a specific audience, impress your viewers and show you’ve got the budget that puts your brand in the luxury market, celebrity appearances are a wise choice. We live in a world of influencers, where customers listen and follow when their favourite celebrities have something to say, or in this case, sell. Companies have been using this to boost brand desirability via association for decades. Celebrity endorsements are a tried and tested marketing method.

The potential return on investment is enormous. Social Media Week cites that sales can increase by 4% after signing a celebrity. Consumers quickly equate the star with the product, which increases brand recall. 

Celebrities also give brands a competitive edge in a crowded market by bolstering the perceived value of a product or service. Smaller brands can gain a huge deal of credibility and visibility from these endorsements and leverage them to successfully tap into brand-new markets.

Celebrity Advertising in 2020

Celebrities haven’t been a huge feature in 2020’s Christmas adverts. This may have a lot to do with the pandemic and brands making a conscious choice to avoid all-out showboating. However, one brand that has opted for the celebrity trend is M&S. While it’s not the flashiest of appearances, as you only hear the celebrities, the voiceover is an integral feature of their classic ad.

christmas adverts

Their choices this year were based on a huge amount of consumer research. As we emerged, collectively dazed, from the first lockdown, M&S began the market research for their Christmas ad. M&S Food’s Marketing Director, Sharry Cramond, says the public sentiment was clear. ‘They told us two things: one, we don’t want any fairy tales, just show us your must-have products for the festive seasons; and two, do it in the spirit of kindness. They wanted a bit of humanity to come through.’

The M&S Christmas Advert provided humanity with humorous narration and showcased kindness with their £2 million charity campaign. While the 9 celebrities brought an added flair and additional familiarity to M&S’s famous ad format, the funny commentary and the focus on the products prevented the ad from free-falling into all-out bragging.

Christmas Party: Present Your Products as the Perfect Gift

Christmas party adverts provide much of the decadence of celebrity ads however their focus is firmly on the festive timing. At this time of year, brands look to position themselves as purveyors of the ideal gift. The ‘Gucci Gift’ campaign is a clear example. Their ad is all about their winter line being the perfect Christmas present and the ideal way to impress friends and family.

For brands that have a specific winter line or product, a Christmas party scene should be focused on the product, rather than an overarching message. More than any other trends, these scenes can easily place the product’s front and centre.

For brands that haven’t got a new product release for Christmas, repackaging your products as a perfect gift for others is a smart tactic. Rather than zeroing in on just your target audience, this angle opens up your brand to the much wider audience of people buying presents for your target.

Wild Card: A Festivity-Free Christmas Ad

Sometimes, brands put out something completely different and Burberry’s seasonal advert is a clear example. Other than enormous falling hailstones, their ad stands out for its lack of festive elements. If it weren’t for the timing and wintry backdrop, it would be difficult to tell if it was a Christmas ad at all.

luxury web design

Opting for graffitied London streets over opulent Christmas décor is bold. But at a time of year when consumers experience a barrage of brightly-lit festive scenes, this pared-back setting is a sure-fire way to stand out. Burberry has set themselves apart from the Christmas action and displayed their innovation and originality in the process.

If you’re an unusual company that doesn’t want to become part of the mainstream, release a Christmas ad that shows your unique brand identity. It might not win over the hearts of the nation, but it will resonate with a smaller, more valuable audience that is more likely to connect with, and buy from, your business.

Are Luxury Brands Beginning to Use Humour?

Throughout 2020, dark humour has had us all collectively laughing at the state of the year. Supermarket giant, Tesco, went down the comedy route for their ‘No Naughty List’ Christmas marketing concept. It has been touted as one of this year’s most successful Christmas ads. Hitting the nail on the head, it’s inclusive in every sense, laughing at the year while crucially not making light of the tragedy.

But high-end adverts rarely opt for humour. Luxury brands are aspirational, their aim of the marketing is to present an idealised world that their products are a part of. Dark and often self-deprecating humour are great ways to forge a connection with consumers but don’t inspire admiration.

But the value of connecting with audiences cannot be undervalued, especially after a year like this, where short comedy clips on TikTok have resonated with millions. Millennials and Gen Z especially, want to connect with their brands with honesty and humour, rather than aspire to unrealistic visions of perfection. Too idealistic and luxury brands run the risk of positioning themselves out of reach of the market and losing touch completely.

While it’s by no means slapstick humour, there has been a perceptible shift in luxury brands taking themselves less seriously. In 2018, Tom Ford partnered with Australian comedian, Celeste Barber, to create a series of videos parodying the usual fashion runaway preparations. Gucci has also released ‘Gucci Arcade’ in their app, complete with retro arcade games, a light-hearted way to tap into the younger market.

Humour in 2020’s Luxury Christmas Adverts

We’ve seen glimpses of humour within several of the luxury Christmas adverts we’ve looked at. Father Christmas’ botched attempts to repair an heirloom jacket in Barbour’s Christmas advert delivered family-friendly humour aimed at younger audiences. Inspired by a true story, the ad ends with a picture of rueful Dudley the Dachshund and his ‘I’m Sorry!’ message.

luxury websites

M&S and Gucci have both opted for more mature, tongue-in-cheek humour for the grown-ups. Olivia Coleman’s witty voiceover adds a light-hearted feel to an otherwise very decadent advert. Gucci’s advert achieves the unusual feat of being equal parts glamourous and cringe-worthy, with audiences laughing at the questionable haircuts, shameless dance moves and archaic technology, whilst admiring the characters’ outfits. 

Making Gains From Christmas Adverts Last with Digital Marketing

For most brands, Christmas TV advertising represents a huge chunk of the marketing budget. Audiences eagerly await the release of their favourite brand’s adverts, with emotional character stories and celebrity cameos offering a taste of panto season on the small screen. 

The theory behind this is that brands can become more memorable by using infrequent but attention-grabbing adverts than with frequent bursts of lower quality. By reducing the year-round TV spend, a brand can push funds towards an extended, showy piece, and achieve a greater change in positive brand awareness.

Case Study: The Giant Crumpet Effect

Take an example from a plucky Northern bakery. In 2015, Warburtons released two advertising campaigns with a far greater TV spend than their previous record and a significant shift in the creative style, achieving one of the top Christmas adverts of 2015.

These were ‘The Deliverers’, featuring Sylvester Stallone as a delivery driver, and ‘The Giant Crumpet Show’, in which the entire cast of The Muppets unveiled a new product. Both ads were long-form pieces, with the Muppets referencing Stallone to link the different styles together. Their visual impact and share of the airtime were significant, and those who saw the adverts enjoyed them enough to share them widely on social media

The two campaign budgets totalled £43m, with the adverts running on TV for two weeks each time. Market research data from Kantar Millward Brown showed that, while the adverts raised public awareness of the brand, these gains deteriorated once the communication was off the air.

luxury trends
Data from Kantar Millward Brown

The decline in brand awareness after Giant Crumpets was slower than after The Deliverers because this creative was better supported by Out of Home and Digital Marketing.

Kantar found that where people had seen the campaign’s digital activity two or more times, their affinity for the brand and intention to purchase increased by 9%

luxury web design trends
Data from Kantar Millward Brown

This case study shows that longer, attention-grabbing TV adverts are a high-risk, high-reward strategy, having a huge impact on the way the brand is perceived. These movements are more prevalent at Christmas, as people are watching more terrestrial TV than at other times of year and are even looking out for favourite festive adverts. Frequent exposure to digital advertising which reflects the creative approach can maintain those improvements into the new year.

TV and Digital Retain Share of Spend for Christmas 2020

While the turbulence of 2020 has led to a drop in advertising spend across the board, fourth-quarter TV budgets have only dipped by 2.7%. Because consumers are spending more time at home, TV and Digital are maintaining their relative share of the advertising spend. 

christmas adverts

With people shopping online more than in-store this year, online displays and search advertising are now vital for business success. Despite being reduced for the first time ever, spending on digital ads in 2020’s fourth quarter is forecast at £3.75bn, making up a staggering 57% of the UK’s total projected advertising spend for the period.

From TV Adverts to Digital Sales

Consumers are most easily persuaded by convenience. When we see something we like on TV, we rarely make an immediate purchase. The purpose of TV advertising is to make consumers more aware of the brand and build an emotional connection. 

On the other hand, when consumers see digital marketing, they know they’re only a few clicks from purchase. If they’ve already been exposed to the TV advert, the work of awareness and trust has been done, and digital advertising can be leveraged as a reminder.

Using digital marketing as part of an integrated campaign reminds viewers of the positive associations they felt for the main creative, in a setting where a purchase is far more convenient. This is amplified at Christmas, when people are looking out for gift ideas, and can be a perfect way to extend the impact of seasonal adverts.

luxury branding
Burberry’s Digital Advert viewed on mobile

Case Study: #GucciGift

In Kantar’s 2020 BrandZ Global Top 100 Report, Gucci is shown to be rising in the ranks of the most valuable global brands. They have reached the top 50 this year, after making significant gains in 2019. Their success comes after refreshing their now 99-year-old brand image, in a bid to connect with young consumers who are shaping the very definition of luxury. The report finds that ‘brand heritage’, the long histories leveraged by many fashion houses, ‘resonated most [with consumers] when it was presented with contemporary relevance’. 

Directed by Akinola Davies Jr, Gucci’s 2020 Christmas advert is a convergence of 90s nostalgia and contemporary designs, placing their A/W 2020 line in context with its influences. But their TV creative sits as part of their annual global ‘Gift Giving’ campaign. This mixed media campaign is heavily weighted towards digital marketing, with the core creative being adapted for each channel.

How #GucciGift 2020 Lends Itself To Digital Marketing

The #GucciGift 2020 Christmas Advert is exciting for digital marketers because the TV creative does three things.

Firstly, it tells a lighthearted story of awkward office parties that taps into 90s nostalgia. We’ve said much about this above, so we’ll move on.

Secondly, the advert ends with a hashtag. This may not be initially remarkable, given that social media marketing is no longer new, but overt calls to follow a campaign on social channels hasn’t been seen much in the luxury category. The #GucciGift is recognisable from 2019’s Christmas campaign and creates a specific call to action for potential customers within the tag. It says ‘Give people Gucci accessories for Christmas’ and ‘expect Gucci gifts’. Giving or receiving something from Gucci becomes an instantly shareable status symbol, and the younger end of Gucci’s target market will find #GucciGifts an invitation to be part of something.

Finally, the high-end TV creative generates a large volume of quality branded video and imagery that can be used in short clips or stills across all other channels. Gucci uses these to market specific products, such as the 1977 Tennis Sneaker in colourful sequined fabrics set out on a desk, or the GGMarmont shoulder Bag on a photocopier. 

The Gucci App

The icing on the Christmas cake is the new addition to the Gucci App: Gucci Arcade. Embracing gamification in digital marketing, this section includes the Gucci Conga Master game. The 90s Christmas party aesthetic is continued throughout the game, as you navigate pixelated colleagues around the cubicles in an ever-growing conga line.

Gucci has created something branded that people will play just for fun. While it’s unlikely a game hidden within a general brand app will have a huge reach, it’s a step in the right direction for a category that needs to engage younger audiences.

How to Harness the Impact of Christmas Advertising in 2021

Big budget advertising always generates a buzz. If it’s memorable, unique and connects on an emotional level, it will drive purchase intent in the months after its release. Brands can extend these positive gains by repurposing stills and clips from their TV creatives in digital reminders and social media posts, as long as they follow these simple rules.

  1. Use the same campaign imagery
  2. Use the same tagline or hashtag throughout
  3. Target a smaller group with a higher frequency of exposure
  4. Create something unique and engaging

The KIJO team has the expertise to bring your brand vision online with visually stunning, engaging experiences. If you want to extend your marketing reach, message us with your branding, design and development needs and we can transform your ideas into digital reality

Industry Best Practice for 2020: The Luxury Brand with the Best Christmas Advert

2020 has provided an unprecedented challenge for marketers. On top of the usual battle for Christmas advert supremacy, a worldwide pandemic and unpredictable public psyche have been thrown into the mix. Creative departments didn’t know whether to make people laugh or cry. Get the tone wrong and they could appear tactless, at best, but tread too carefully and their ad could slip under the radar altogether. 

After taking stock of 2020’s Christmas ads, it’s clear luxury brands are toning down the decadence in favour of wholesome storytelling and driving home their messages via digital channels.

For us, there is a clear luxury brand standout this year.

Inspired by Raymond Briggs’ original ‘Father Christmas’ story, the illustrator again put pencil to paper for Barbour’s Christmas advert. The story follows Father Christmas as he journeys to the Barbour’s repair factory to fix a family heirloom. Also the creator of ‘The Snowman’, Briggs’ animation style has been cherished by families since the seventies. It was an inspired choice by Barbour, guaranteed to tap into the national love for wholesome family narratives over the festive season.

best luxury christmas adverts

Alongside the TV ad, Barbour’s Twitter feed has been sharing their 2020 festive message. Positioning themselves as the ideal family brand, they’ve provided activity sheets for children to colour in characters from the advert. They’re also running a competition for people to win a printed copy of the story. Entrants need to follow Barbour, retweet and reply with a Christmas memory – digital marketing is rarely so wholesome. 

With a Twitter campaign, physical goods connected to the ad and a storyline packed with emotional content, Barbour has delivered an all-encompassing Christmas marketing campaign. Their focus on sustainability and clothing repair strikes the perfect tone at the end of a year that has been difficult financially and emotionally.

With a brilliant creative vision that matched the mood of the nation, Barbour has delivered 2020’s standout Luxury Christmas advert