Christmas is fast approaching. We know this not from the coloured lights that festoon the high streets of every town and city – they’re not up yet – nor from the lavishly decorated Christmas trees that brighten the living rooms of the nation, because they’re still growing in some far off, distant forest.
No, we know Christmas is fast approaching because the battle for the most sentimental advert on TV is well and truly underway. As firm a fixture as any religious holiday, and almost as anticipated, November has now become the time retailers launch their most lavish campaigns of the year, which are premiered like Hollywood blockbusters.
You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re saccharin and usually depict depressed animals or children who by some miraculous, festive, intervention feel much better by the time you learn which retailer is behind the advert. Spearheaded by a certain department store, it wasn’t long before food retailers jumped on the bandwagon too, so now, every November, the battle for top Christmas ad is played out on our TV screens, in our newspapers and on social media.
But why do we see such emotional campaigns at this time of year? After all, these same retailers advertise all year round but rarely do their ads capture our attention like at Christmas. And with the very real possibility of a public flop if theirs doesn’t cut the mustard, the stakes in the run up to the festive season couldn’t be higher.
Emotion in advertising has long been a topic of analysis and discussion. As human beings, everything we experience inspires an emotional reaction which is shaped by our past experience, including the most mundane of adverts. However, the simple fact is, the less the emotional response we have to something, the less likely we are to remember it.
The relevance to advertising is this: the duller your advert, the less intense people’s emotional reaction will be, the more times they will have to see it to remember it. This can be a problem for B2B companies which often rely on dry product information to persuade a prospect to buy their wares.
It is this principal that underpins the emotional nature of Christmas adverts. The run up to Christmas is a small amount of time in which to make a huge amount of sales, it is the most ruthlessly competitively period in the retailer calendar. To succeed, brands need to stand out.
For many consumers, Christmas is for family and a time to reflect on another year gone by. It is a time when emotions are naturally heightened. Brands know this and use it well. They know that to get our attention, and our money, they need to pander to the heart and not the head.
There’s a saying journalism – a discipline in the which key members of Red Stag Media have worked – that stories are about people. This is never laid so bare as in Christmas advertising which has us blubbing, smiling and spending in equal measure.
You can leverage this too.
Whatever sector you work in, bringing the human stories in your business to life will bestow that little bit of Christmas magic to your marketing all year round, and that will help your brand touch more customers.