The countdown is well and truly on. Christmas is less than seven weeks away, and the push to get us to part with our pounds is up and running.
Shops are decked out, festive food and gifts have been on sale for some time, and now, retailers are upping the ante; it’s time for the big sell.
By the weekend, most of the major retailers will have let their Christmas campaigns loose on the public. While some are still being secretive about their ads, we know Asda will use a trio of sad looking snowmen in scarves with colours that represent their rivals, Debenhams’ ad features a lovestruck couple clad in designer gear, and M&S’ Alice in Wonderland-inspired offering features Helena Bonham-Carter and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
We’re well used to the retailers battling it out on the small screen with their multi-million pound campaigns, but are they really worth it? After all, won’t we end up doing our Christmas shopping in the places we’d have done it anyway? I am perfectly capable of cooing over one retailer’s impressive advert, yet do my shopping at another.
As John Ryan from Media Week says, “retailers’ Christmas advertising does appear to make them a hostage to fortune.” If they just fail to hit the mark, retailers could find themselves spending millions of pounds on an ad campaign that’s critically maligned (Asda was accused of sexism last year as a ‘typical mother’ took care of everything) and/or has little or no effect on consumers.
On the other hand, while discussing this very point with colleagues this morning, one animatedly remembered last year’s John Lewis snowmen advert, and proclaimed that they always do their Christmas shopping at said store. Get it right, and the ad can make the difference.
But for me, it won’t. For my money, it’s the best deal that will get me through the door, and as wages fail to keep up with inflation, I imagine I’m not the only one. According to a 2012 survey of 1,000 people by Valassis, it’s not adverts but promotions that sway customers at Christmas shopping time. 84% planned to use a promotion when doing their big food shop.
This suggests that rather than a flash advert, it’s cold hard cash off the bill that matters to most of us. Morrisons are hoping to latch onto this with a rerun of last year’s ‘Big Christmas Bonus’ where shoppers can get £40 off their Christmas shop when they spend £40 in nine of the preceding ten weeks.
Whether or not the Christmas ads make a difference to the destination of your holiday shop, they’re all part of a modern Christmas. While they won’t sway me, they’re bound to make me go ‘aaah’.