The craft of Christmas advertising
But let’s also remember it’s not all about what you make. This year, it’s also about how the hell you actually make it. Due to COVID restrictions, shooting this year has been a huge challenge. And unlike Coca Cola, most brands can’t just rerun the same film year after year. At the beginning, shoots were just cancelled altogether. Right now, in October shoots are beginning to start again. However odd they may be. Much like working from home, remote shooting was always laughed off as an impossible dream. How wrong we were. The development in technology to enable these productions to take place has been truly staggering. I have shot in both Bali and Argentina in the last week. All without leaving my living room.
So, whatever you are able to shoot, animate or create, here are five key things worth considering when navigating Christmas this year:
Take it seriously. This is an immovable deadline. Get your shit together or it isn’t going to happen.
Emotion. Emotion doesn’t mean you have to cry. Laughter is an emotion. Joy is an emotion. You can feel something without being reduced to tears.
Know your audience. I do a lot of work with students and schools. While visiting a sixth form class to talk about John Lewis, the teachers were beyond excited. The kids themselves? No idea. Teenagers are on their phones, iPads and consoles. Not in front of a TV. Just remember who you are talking to.
What’s your cuddly toy? Some of the most shared images during the John Lewis & Waitrose campaign last year were the cuddly toy, the chocolates in store and the pyjamas. This level of merchandise is not always possible, but the ‘photo op’ moment is always worth considering in advance.
Keep talking. If people engage with your campaign, comment, share or question your content, talk to them. The dialogue is invaluable, and your consumers will remember you as a result.
So, whatever Christmas looks like this year, it will be different. And that’s for certain. Advertising is sometimes very easy to ignore. But not if it makes you feel something. And, in a year where we’ve all felt lonely, afraid and uncertain, the winners this year will be the stories that make you feel something else, whatever form they take.
But then again, I have just come back from the school run. A mum stopped me and said: “Please tell me the Christmas ad is going to make us cry again this year!” Maybe some traditions are worth holding onto.