The Festive Advert Phenomenon

The Festive Advert Phenomenon

Hannah Chima discusses the purpose of Christmas adverts and their effect on consumers

Are festive adverts really worth it? When we watch them, how do we feel? Some of the adverts, for example, John Lewis’ The Bear and the Hare, stick with us for many years. But do we really feel like going out and buying from the advertised stores? As heart-warming as these adverts are, it does not seem that their message converts into sales, but rather the extent of their impact goes no further than our engagement with the ad.

Seasonal advertising is big business, and this year is no exception. The adverts are more ambitious than ever. John Lewis have tried to impress with Moz the Monster, Sainsbury’s have gone for the down-to-earth collaborative song and Aldi have opted to base theirs on one of the most talked about films of 2017, Murder on the Orient Express. Meanwhile, Asda have adopted for a tour around the ‘Christmas’ factory, M&S see Paddington giving Santa a hand and Morrison’s focuses on the novelty of good food and family during the festive season.

For the most part, this excitement around seasonal advertising revolves around the main supermarkets, and big retailers such as Argos and John Lewis. So what do they really get out of it? John Lewis,for example, according to OK! Magazine, spend roughly £1 million on their festive advert, followed by £6 million on the advertising. Whilst the supermarket adverts can have an impact through the entire festive season, by the time that the John Lewis advert is on, many shoppers have already found their bargains, and clinched some last minute sales on Black Friday. Also, several of this year’s adverts, such as Sainsbury’s and Lidl, give little indication of what they offer in terms of making their products stand out. As far as this is true, how influential can a seasonal advert really be in enticing shoppers?

From a small survey that I conducted, it quickly became apparent that few people feel influenced by the adverts they watch during the festive period. Whilst from the survey Tesco came out on top as the most visited at this time of year, the M&S advert received the most praise. Along these lines, 75% of those who took the survey revealed that they did not think that the seasonal adverts influenced where they shopped.

So, can the great expenses on these adverts be justified? Probably not. They more often serve the purpose of instilling the festive spirit. Particularly with the supermarkets, people want tasty food that they know they can rely on, it is not the time to be taking risks and trying out new foods from different stores. If not this, we push the boat out and get our shopping from independent stores for example butchers, to make it an extra special time. This, however, does not mean we do not want to see the adverts that define the copious amounts of TV that we watch during the festive period.

We are left with this: expensive adverts not reaping the rewards supermarkets and companies want. The reality is that such retailers will continue to make seasonal adverts despite the fact that the numbers do not add up; ultimately, it seems it’s all about getting the brand out there and creating a buzz around the festive season.

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