Each year, the now traditional rivalry amongst high street retailers and supermarkets goes to public opinion with the launch of the Christmas advert season.
Marketing departments and advertising agencies have been busying away since the beginning of summer, creating their entry to the “Most Talked About Advertising Campaign of the Year” competition. The main participants have historically been John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer’s and Waitrose, with new entrants coming and going depending on success.
John Lewis has arguably held the crown since 2011’s The Long Wait, providing consumers with a heart-warming, tear-jerking, magical story year after year, to get them in the mood for the spending spree that awaits them. This year they’ve made an excellent attempt to hold on to the crown, with the launch of #bustertheboxer, but there’s a roaring debate on social media about whether they’ve done enough to retain their champion status.
Buster the Boxer is definitely one of the front runners this year, but there’s stiff competition, with Marks and Spencer’s Love Mrs Claus, Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot and Sainsbury’s The Greatest Gift also grabbing shoppers attention.
Judging by YouTube views alone John Lewis has it in the bag this year, with 10 million more views than the nearest competition, but does this a winner make? John Lewis has the advantage each year, with millions of people clicking onto YouTube to find out if they’ve lived up to their reputation, get their first Christmas advert fix or to find out what all the hype is about. But it’s still early days and with the Sainsbury’s advert launching later than John Lewis’ there’s still plenty of time to catch up.
Sainsbury’s seem to have taken inspiration from John Lewis’ success in previous years, and whilst the campaigns have their differences, both are now using similar, apparently effective, formulas to ensure the success of their campaigns.
So, what makes a successful Christmas Advert in 2016?
Take a heart-warming lifestyle story; throw in a heavy dose of tear-jerking music (well-known or specially composed), sprinkle in a large handful of compassion (or other suitable moral), add a twist, handover a large budget (£4 – £6 million at least) and allow the expert advertising agency to carefully craft over a 6month period. Ta-Da! Christmas advert success is yours!
It’s certainly working for John Lewis, Buster the Boxer has taken on a life of its own, with reaction videos, Buster the boxer hashtags, real-life Busters and comedy remakes taking the internet by storm. Even if Sainsbury’s or one of the other worthy competitors manage to steal the crown, John Lewis should be overjoyed with the attention they’ve grabbed this year.