Christmas is a time for sharing, celebrating and connecting with our loved ones. It also precipitates an intense period of gift giving and “spoiling” ourselves. Coupled with ephemeral yet expensive dining habits, the extravagance of Christmas does not come cheap. In this sense, it isn’t just Christmas for families, but also for the many retailers hungry for their piece of consumerism.  Billions of Euros will briskly spill out of peoples savings pool, in the quest to make this Christmas extra special. Needless to say, it presents tremendous opportunity for brands eager to promote their latest “must have” season accessory. Advertising plays a pivotal role in filling this information vacuum putting these brands at the forefront of consumer attention.

I have watched with intrigue, the avalanche of ads that have permeated our screens over the following months. Some have impressed, others have disappointed, but all have thought us lessons about creating effective advertising. I have absorbed from the best practitioners certain characteristics or ingredients if you will, that embody great Christmas advertising.

This blog shall dispense these doctrines that accentuate truly great advertising. They are as follows:

1. Nostalgia

We all like to reminisce on better times back when we were kids. Our youth was a period of unburdened joy, before the unavoidable introduction of the stress and responsibilities that accompany adulthood. Nostalgic ads effectively catapult us back to this halcyon period of bliss, reminding us of some of our happiest memories. Back when Santa Claus was real, putting up the Christmas tree was one of life’s highlights and it was not just cool but socially acceptable to spend the whole day playing video games. Times change, as do people.

Furthermore these nostalgic ads can build affinity, trust and attachment to the brand eliciting these pleasant memories. They make us feel childlike again if only for a moment.

2. Storytelling

Often underestimated, storytelling is an important tool to create advertising that is both interesting and engaging for the audience. The first few seconds of an ad are the most important. It establishes the hook. We have a very short attention span.

Storytelling can create drama and build the suspense necessary to grab the audience’s attention. The mind seeks finality and if the audience like the beginning they are more likely to watch until the ad ends. However if the ad goes on too long then attention will atrophy. Many of my favourite ads this Christmas vigorously utilize this technique.

3. Humour

What’s life without a little bit of humour?! We all hate being sold to and advertising is often interpreted by consumers as too aggressive or serious. Ultimately, the hard sell doesn’t work anymore.  After all, advertising is merely a brand attempting to tell you why you should spend your hard earned money on their product/service.

A sprinkling of humour in advertising can lighten the whole experience, diffusing the sales agenda. Humour makes ads enjoyable, more likely to be shared with friends and increases the possibility of the ad going viral. Usually humour can take various forms. This could be a humorous character, witty punchline, quirky storyline or hilarious dialogue. I really liked the ad by Amazon Prime this year which shows a priest and an Imam meeting for Christmas. Spoiler alert – the story concludes with them both buying each other knee pads as a Christmas present.

4. Special characters

This Christmas has seen a multitude of different characters invading our Television screens. Most of these characters are associated with Christmas in some way, adding to the ad’s relevancy. As an illustration, Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot introduces us to their Christmas message. On the other hand, a Yeti sings to us about the latest surprises at Argos this Christmas. John Lewis was typically different with Buster the boxer taking centre stage. Meanwhile two teddy bears disembark a flight at Heathrow airport, in their themed advert.

These special and quirky characters help in making advertising that is both endearing and noticeable to the consumer. I mean, a talking carrot is bound to get your attention right? They also make the ad less serious and more fun.

5. Emotion

Advertising isn’t very effective if it doesn’t connect with the audience in some minute way. Brands strive to establish a deeper and more meaningful relationship with their customers. Creating impactful advertising that reaches people’s core is a great way to achieve this. Advertising that stops and makes people think. In essence, advertising that carries a proverbial message.

Music can be used to add to the emotion and atmosphere in an ad. These ads can tug at our heartstrings through empathic communication. A prime example is this ad from Allegro where a Polish Grandfather starts learning English so he can speak to his grandson.

The Desert

So in conclusion, you have delicately and generously added these deliciously palatable ingredients to your advertising bowl. Effective flavouring has also taken place. The advertising has been lightened as according to instructions making digestion super easy and enjoyable. Now it is time to purchase prime media space and present this spectacular Christmas Ad to your guests.