Are UK companies festive budgets well spent on Xmas ads?

November saw the release of John Lewis’ Christmas ad of 2017 and we were introduced to Moz the Monster. The ad has since generated mixed opinions, I personally thought it was nice, a heart-warming addition to JL’s festive archives. However I have to agree with the critics that yes, it lacked their traditional Christmas appeal, wasn’t your standard tear-jerker and was not so up to scratch with their previous efforts. However, once you set a pedestal it is hard to build upon that, and you have to credit John Lewis for their efforts. Press coverage has been rife, however something that is not so questioned is: are the John Lewis adverts worth their extortionate budgets – in both time and money?

This years efforts set back the popular retail chain around £14m, (allegedly – they never disclose the full amount for certain) and has been the centre of their marketing teams’ plans since pretty much the start of the year. However something you don’t hear about all that often is the Return on Investment figures from their famed festive ads. Upon researching, I found that in 2014, JL’s head of marketing came forward to contend that “TV campaigns at Christmas are our most profitable ROI, which demonstrates that when you invest in creativity and in creating memorable brand building campaigns you not only create short term commercial success, you build the brand over the long term.” However something that was not disclosed was any facts nor figures to back up her claim.

As a PR person, I am somewhat biased to the power of marketing and campaigning and its effectiveness. I appreciate the benefits such advertisements can bring to an organisation, including brand awareness, brand reputation, consumer growth and ultimately profits. Adverts are created with the primary function to heighten interest in a business, or alternatively, one of their products and are often effective in doing so. As a PR person also, I am always interested and intrigued by corporate advertisements, even more so at Christmas and have been watching this year with an eagle eye. I am no sceptic and wholly believe that John Lewis’ efforts do present them with great returns, something i’m not so sure about however is: is that amount of expenditure and time excursion necessary?

In an uncanny turn of events, ‘MyVoucherCodes’ took on the challenge to emulate Moz the Monster’s antics – with just a fraction of the budget. £700 down and 7 hours later, with the assistance of some very talented media and production students – the ad went live. Okay with sock puppets instead of realistic animations, the ad did not aesthetically compare – but in terms of carrying the same heart-warming message, it prevailed in every sense of the matter. The ad generate much attention, probably more due to its controversial purposes over anything else, nevertheless, it did the job and has flourished in press coverage thereafter its creation. The spoof goes to show that organisations need not break the bank in order to put on a show stopper yuletide campaign that will make an impact. Okay i’m sure big corporations can stretch further than £700, but there is a lesson to be learned here nevertheless.

In no way am I saying i’m not for these Christmas ads, I revel in the anticipation stigma attached and always love seeing the creativity behind them. However, I just wander whether the budgets need be so big for something that in reality, will grace the small screen for no longer than 2 months before it is awash with the rest of the has-been ads. I’d love to see what John Lewis could pull together with half of their forecasted budget next year, that’d certainly be something i’d stick around to follow.


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