What’s that sound? Oh, just the distant strains of Slade, Mariah Carey, Wizzard and Wham! It’s getting louder… Yes, it’s that most wonderful time of year again when fans of the festive season start buzzing with excitement, and cynical scrooges lament Christmas seeming to arrive earlier every year.

One thing we can all agree on, though, is that the big brand Christmas TV ad has come to represent the first significant milestone in the run-up to 25th December. Those known for their festive TV efforts have already launched their eagerly anticipated Christmas ads, with Mrs Claus representing M&S, Kevin the Carrot for Lidl, and finally Buster the Boxer for John Lewis.

The ‘premiere’ of big retailers’ festive films has become an event of huge cultural significance; so much so that this year, hundreds of thousands of people were fooled into watching a teenager’s A-level coursework masquerading as 2016’s offering from John Lewis, nearly a week before the release of the real ad.

Perhaps more than anything else (indeed, even the sight of Craig David switching on Oxford Street’s lights), the glossy ads hit our screens like Christmassy klaxons, tugging at the heartstrings and turning our attentions firmly to gift-buying.

Of course, the difference today is that thanks to the smartphone our shopping habits – and the way we relate to brands – has undergone a fundamental change. This changes the face of Christmas shopping and the meaning of the big budget advertising campaigns.

So what role do the cinematic, emotional blockbuster Christmas ads delivered by the likes of John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser play in the new world of m-commerce, where 63% of the UK population now use their mobile phones to purchase gifts for loved ones?

How can marketers capitalise on the excitement generated by Christmas ads, ensuring their storytelling campaigns translate into real results? After all, it’s not enough for an ad to elicit an emotional reaction in its audience: ultimately, it has to persuade us to buy.

Today’s consumers view a brand’s websites, apps, retail store and TV ads as part of the same experience. As such, they’re looking for consistency and ongoing relevance when they move from device to device and even from device to store.

The brands that win out this Christmas will be those that successfully translate the glamour, emotion and impact of their big budget TV ads across all channels, platforms and devices that consumers use to browse and shop, influencing the path to purchase at every stage and on every channel.

An effective mobile and cross-channel strategy, which spans social platforms and email, can make a big difference to ongoing consumer behaviour, with shoppers remaining loyal to brands not just during the holiday period, but in the months afterwards.

We all love a warm and fuzzy Christmas ad. But in this ultra-competitive environment, the brands that leverage their investment to connect more closely with their customers on an ongoing basis – therefore winning their custom and loyalty, as well as their hearts – will succeed in the long run.


By Gregory Gazagne, executive vice president EMEA at Criteo

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at http://www.gdprsummit.london/

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