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    A toss-up between cynicism and nostalgia: what makes a memorable Christmas ad?

    Christmas ads stay with us for a reason. We spoke to members of the Drum Network about what resonates and how brands can make sure they’re remembered. 

    Connie Whittle, art director, Anything is Possible 

    The worthy one, the jingle one, the carrot one. The ‘oh, they’ve gone with that again’ one. We’re upping the ante even earlier every Christmas. It’s clear that you have to do things a bit differently to stand out. In this game it’s tempting to be cynical. I enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling of these minute movies as much as the next, but as we know: a dog isn’t just for Christmas, and neither is these ads’ potential for lasting memories. 

    At a time when customers have their eyes open to comms (and there is still a guaranteed amount of CGI vegetables) should we use this time to highlight more worthy causes? For me, like many other viewers, the Sainsburys WW1-set ‘Christmas Truce’ struck the right balance between worthiness and warmth, contextualizing the elusive spirit of Christmas in a way that acknowledges history while feeling very relevant to our current moment. Nearly a decade after it was released, it still gets a mention in many end-of-year ‘best of’ lists, long after the many mascot carrots have gone a bit moldy.  

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    Simeon Jarrett, UK copywriter, Momentum Worldwide  

    Brands that have captured the honest chaos of organizing Christmas with a tongue-in-cheek approach and presented themselves as the obvious solution have always stood out. Ikea’s 2019 festive spot nails this. With guests coming over, a family’s house ornaments (voiced by grime legend D Double E) are bought to life just to drop a diss track about their tired-looking living room. Because why not? The ad does a great job of cheekily reflecting how the audience feel about having guests over for the holidays.  

    I believe that brands who take this honest approach in a relevant way will continue to cut through the noise, especially this year. Many people are facing pressures bigger than sprucing up the house. Don’t Panic’s latest Christmas ad for Shelter captures this effortlessly by following a schoolboy who gets through life with a brave face, even as he’s made homeless. With a warm beginning and a harsh, uncomfortable ending that cuts deeply, it captures the sharp reality for many and stays with you. 

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    Nadine Smith, paid social specialist, Rawnet 

    Last year, we saw some outstanding results working with Hornby Hobbies on its Christmas campaigns. Before launching the paid campaigns, our team measured CRO metrics, which included A/B testing with dynamic yield to increase the site’s conversion rates and allow data-informed up-selling and cross-selling through various tests. Through implementing a holistic digital strategy, including optimization, and user experience (UX) design, we were able to build a solid and bespoke infrastructure to support the brand’s digital strategy. Overall, during this period (November to January), Hornby Hobbies’ ROAS increased by 247%.  

    It’s fair to say that stand-alone Christmas campaigns are no longer as effective as they once were. It’s all about nurturing and engaging with customers in the months running up to the festive season. Brands often underestimate how early Christmas shopping commences, leading to them missing out on sales. It’s therefore vital to truly understand and perfect your audiences ahead of time to make sure that you are prepared early. 

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