Kantar’s head of creative excellence analyses retailer Christmas ad campaigns

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Christmas 2020 has begun with many of this year’s TV ads already appearing on our screens, including the latest from Morrisons, launched today. We’ve heard that Christmas will be ‘like no other’, so how does the current crop of ads from Aldi, M&S Food, Amazon and others fare?  Lynne Deason, head of creative excellence, UK at Kantar has provided her analysis below on five campaigns

“While we are still waiting for some of the most anticipated Christmas ads to land, including John Lewis, we’re already seeing a different and varied approach in the first ads to air, with Asda acknowledging that ‘this Christmas will be very different’ and Amazon’s brave and heart-warming ballet dancer story that recognises that ‘the show must go on’.

“But never has there been a greater need for the ads to lift our spirits and help us celebrate the festive season. Humour, which has been declining in advertising over the past two decades, is the hallmark of TK Maxx’s ‘Lil’ Goat’ ad – with attitude – providing much needed light relief, and Aldi should be applauded for making a hero out of a carrot. More of this please!”

Morrisons

“A masterclass in what not to do. Falls straight into the #joywash bin with a clunk, generic ‘food at home’ cliché and no attempt at a memorable story. More worryingly, you could slap any supermarket brand logo on this and be none the wiser. Apparently the idea is ‘making Christmas special’ but I’d be hard-pressed to recall anything at all here; let alone anything special. Does a great job for Dua Lipa though. File under #ordinary.”

Aldi: 

“Ah, Kevin the Carrot. Unexpected winner of the nation’s hearts and wallets. In a year where the whole world has been turned upside down and inside out, and the idea of normality seems a long distant memory, it’s great to see you back. This time round we’re treated to a tale of hardship as Kevin and his new found chum hedgehog try to find their way back home. It’s got a lot of the right ingredients – empathy, tension, resolution, branding.  But maybe the tension or the payoff needs to be more extreme. Aldi should be applauded. It’s cliché free, 1,000% branded and makes a hero out of a carrot.”

Amazon: 

“After last year’s smiley boxes Amazon has decided to tread a tougher, more personal path that takes them away from the ‘joywashing’ everywhere else. It’s brave (and challenging). It’s a hard luck story, shot on an estate, late at night, about ballet dancing. It could have all gone so wrong but is handled effortlessly and takes us to a positive place. The music directs our emotions, signalling the highs and lows and then takes on a deeper meaning as we recognise the track and relevance of the lyrics to what is unfolding, not only in the ad, but also in our own lives this year. The sentiment in the ad is powerful, it brings to life a spirit and determination that is inspiring and aspirational, but that’s all it is.”

M&S Food: 

“M&S delivers another dose of Christmas food porn for us to feast our eyes on. The idea that we deserve to indulge ourselves this Christmas with ‘not just any food but M&S food’ will definitely resonate with some, and although it’s rather predictable, the delicious delights M&S has to offer will undoubtedly leave some salivating or thirsty! In the food fight between driving people to the store and building warmth towards the brand through the charitable donations it is making, the food has definitely won, as the charity connection is thrown in as an afterthought at the end.  Driving footfall is key, so this is probably the right decision, but if M&S genuinely believes that this charitable contribution will make a difference, this will hopefully be leveraged in other executions or other touch points.”

Walkers Crisps: 

“When it comes to ads, Christmas is like a bag of Haribo – saccharine, enjoyable and entirely expected. And that’s created a problem: the Christmas advertising superbowl has become a cliché of itself, where it’s very rare for brands to do something that’s original or that gets you in the gut. So hurrah for Walkers breathing fresh air into an old formula. Featuring sausage roll crisps (!), killer karaoke tunes, a LadBaby cameo, and a charity link, it’s sure to bring a cheesy grin to the nation’s faces. Damned close to genius!”