Here Come The Xmas TV Ads

Starting With John Lewis, Here Come The Xmas TV Ads – But Shouldn’t We Ask for More This Christmas?It’s that time of year again, when we deck the halls and listen to the jingle bells of tills ringing… it’s TV Christmas advert season! And it will really kick off on Friday 4 November with the rumoured unveiling of the John Lewis offering.

Christmas TV adverts are certainly a topic to provoke debate – some people absolutely hate them as demonstrating how commercialised and off-message Christmas has become.

But many of us love it when the shops pull out all the stops with their Yuletide TV pleas to try and persuade us to spend our pounds with them, whether on presents or other festive fare.

But above all, the John Lewis advert has become as synonymous with Christmas as turkey and Brussels sprouts.

However, I have a little Christmas list of my own this year when it comes to the John Lewis ad. I really hope they are brave enough to break with their format and introduce surprise – and not just deliver more cosy, pulling at the heart-strings stuff that evokes Christmas but which gives a very shallow reflection of what JL shops actually have to offer.

Last Christmas, I felt the House of Fraser ad was not just skilful choreography with a fantastic sound track, but a fashion-led promo more befitting for John Lewis. It was certainly a bold surprise from a store not generally perceived as being cutting-edge when it comes to couture.

Sadly for House of Fraser, the soundtrack – ‘You Don’t Own Me’ by Aussie songstress Grace – remains the lasting memory, not the brand. And it’s not alone-there are many ads that we all remember well, but often forget the brand they were promoting.

Many retailers work for 11 months for just one month of sales over December, and their Christmas ad campaign is  the pivotal ingredient in drumming up consumer spending.

The stakes are high – Christmas spending in the UK online alone was up 11% last year to £24billion, and is predicted to rise again this year despite some uncertainties regarding Brexit.

But often I feel the sales often don’t correlate with the quality or popularity of their TV advert offering.

Retailers should not pin all their hopes that their clever, arty adverts or those covered with in Christmas cheese will equate with tills ringing. Often sadly overlooked is new strategy and design thinking in-store.

Visual merchandising teams work night and day to dress windows and hanging decorations, but the actual in-store experience for the consumer often remains exactly the same as the previous 11 months bar some waving away some sad bits of tinsel as they queue – and queue – at the till.

Okay, I give huge credit to John Lewis and their ‘helping hands’ where all partners (staff) at head office take to sales floor but very few retailers offer the consumer something really new over the festive season.

A ‘help yourself to a mince-pie’ on the cash desk doesn’t do it for me. I would like to see the larger department stores create a really exciting retail experience and newness, a giant pop-up experience and excitement that encourages sales and makes the in-store festive experience really memorable. Maybe smaller outlets could come together and create a community Christmas market feel.

We live in a multi-channel, omni world and in retail, the Christmas ad, on TV and on digital, all need to align and excite along with the experience in store – not demonstrate unseasonal discord.

What have been your most loved OR hated Christmas adverts?