Christmas advertising 2023
The past two months have been filled with an abundance of Christmas content, online, on TV and in print media. It was estimated that a record £9.5 billion will be spent during the 2023 Christmas season, up more than £400 million on last year.
A report commissioned by the IPA found that two-thirds of consumers were planning to cut back on their Christmas spending this year due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. However, it showed that consumers still wanted to see brands spreading the Christmas cheer, with 37% wanting to see an injection of festivity in business communications, 21% valuing humour and 20% wanting to feel nostalgic.
The truth is, Christmas advertising isn’t just important to promote sales. There’s plenty of value in strengthening your brand’s message and building on existing relationships with your customer base.
Reacting and responding to customer needs
One big-name brand threw traditional Christmas advertising out of the window this year, as a nod towards the difficult financial conditions that many customers have found themselves in this year. Frozen food chain, Iceland, has not created a TV advert for 2023, despite usually producing a big-budget screen campaign for the festive season.
Instead, the brand has focussed on offering deals and keeping prices low, helping its customers feed their families this Christmas for less. One popular offer introduced in time for Christmas was a turkey roast dinner bundle, serving 8-10 people for just £30.
Richard Walker, Iceland’s executive chairman said: “As a business we were faced with a decision. Do we spend millions creating and sharing a TV advert or do we invest the money supporting our customers during the cost-of-living crisis? This was a no-brainer for us.”
The big names in Christmas advertising
Out of the estimated spend of £9.5 billion, TV adverts account for nearly £1.5 billion. Research by the Advertising Association found that nearly half (48%) of adults credit these types of adverts with helping to spark gift ideas. Producing these festive videos is no small feat. They take months of scripting, filming and editing, as well as substantial financial investment.
One of the most iconic brands in the Christmas advertising space, John Lewis, reportedly spends around £800,000 on producing its annual TV ad. This may seem like a ridiculous spend, but on average, every £1 spent on advertising generates £6 for the UK economy.
The John Lewis advert is a big sign for many that the lead-up to Christmas is starting. Many eagerly wait for its release, seeking it out rather than waiting to come across it organically. For this year’s ad, John Lewis said that in the first five days of its release, two-thirds of the adult population had watched the ad more than once, with 80 million total views. 50 million of these views were before the ad had even aired on TV, with consumers flocking to watch it online.
Another key advertiser in the Christmas period is Coca-Cola. Taking a split approach this year, the brand has still released its traditional TV ad but has also opted to produce a big-budget “holiday movie” series for digital distribution. Short films titled The Santa Stories feature A-list Hollywood talent and have been released on Amazon Prime Video and Coca-Cola’s YouTube channel.
Leveraging social media
In today’s digital age, you don’t need to be one of the big players to get your brand in the public eye. One Christmas ad that unexpectedly garnered a large amount of attention was by a small family-run pub in Northern Ireland.
Charlie’s Bar, based in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, produced a short Christmas advert inspired by the emotionful big-brand adverts we all know, love and shed a tear over each year. With a budget of £700 and filmed entirely on an iPhone, the advert shows an elderly man with a sad expression walking through town alone. He enters the bar and is joined by a couple who sit, drink and talk with him.
Una Burns, manager of Charlie’s Bar said: “We’re just a small, local pub and we just wanted to provide a Christmas advert that hopefully resonated with people and for us, it became apparent over the years that Christmas can be a really lonely, tough time for some people. We see that more than others, as on Christmas morning – when we’re open – there are some people coming in with maybe nowhere else to be and need people to speak to.”
Expecting only a few locals to see the advert, it was posted on their social media channels. It quickly went viral and amassed over six million views on X (Twitter), and now has over 1.5 million views and 140,000 likes on TikTok. It even caught the attention of John Lewis, who has since commented on the video commending the incredible story and production.
Social media opens up so many new opportunities for smaller brands to make their mark, especially over Christmas. Consumers love a heartwarming, story-driven advert and it’s a great way for brands to promote their values and messages.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed seeing all of the Christmas communications over the past few weeks. From everyone at Browser Media, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!