It’s that time of year again when we all come together to give our two pence worth on a contest to determine who comes out on top at Christmas – no, not the X Factor or I’m a Celeb – it is, of course, the battle of the Christmas adverts.
It’s a relatively new festive tradition that has seen increased public interest in the last few years, but the inventiveness and messaging behind the adverts causes excitement and shows the power advertising still holds in terms of reaching target audiences and positioning the brand favourably at the busiest time of the year for retailers.
This year’s head to head sees the offerings #ManOnTheMoon from John Lewis and beloved children’s literary character Mog the Cat come to life in Sainsbury’s advert (for Generation Adblock who may not have seen them yet, links to the adverts below), continuing the contest from last year when John Lewis’ Monty the Penguin faced off against Sainsbury’s depiction of Christmas in the trenches. So, how do they compare?
John Lewis certainly loves pulling at the heartstrings in its campaigns, and this year is no different. The spirit of giving and sharing with those less fortunate or who have nobody is the main theme and done in a very creative way. The social media frenzy that followed the advert’s launch shows how effective the brand is at getting tongues wagging (22,429 tweets and retweets in the first hour of mostly positive sentiment). John Lewis has also launched an app in conjunction with the advert to help countdown the phases of the moon until Christmas – this year will be the first full moon on Christmas day since 1977 – a nice touch. Oh, you can also buy the little girl’s telescope from the retailer too.
However, did you know that the advert was made in association with Age UK in a bid to tackle loneliness this Christmas? Probably not. The advert certainly doesn’t mention it and the webpage http://www.johnlewis.com/christmas-advert doesn’t reference Age UK until you’ve scrolled halfway down. So, by isolating the charity from the campaign, isn’t John Lewis really doing the opposite of what it’s supposed to be encouraging others to do?
Mog’s Christmas Calamity:
Ah, Mog! A perennial figure in my childhood (I was born in 1992) and I’m sure many others will say the same – with the exception of Account Manager Jack Williams who had absolutely no clue about Mog or the books! The advert depicts Mog’s Christmas and sees the mischievous cat causing, and subsequently rescuing the family from, a fire on Christmas Day.
With Christmas seemingly ruined, the family head back into their fire-damaged house only for their neighbours to join them in restoring the house and preparing a new Christmas dinner all in time for lunch! ‘Christmas is for sharing’ flashes across the screen in the final scene, followed by ‘Sainsbury’s – Supporting child literacy with Save the Children’ and the point of the advert becomes clear. Sainsbury’s is proud to state its partnership with the charity and by recreating a well-loved feel-good Christmas story, draws the viewer in. The book ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ was specially written for the campaign and can be bought at Sainsbury’s along with cuddly toys of the cat with all profits going towards Save the Children’s child literacy programmes.
Winner – Sainsbury’s
Although John Lewis’ advert is very well-made and more of an integrated campaign than Sainsbury’s, I can’t help but feel it misses the point it’s supposed to be putting forward by placing its own agenda above its partner’s. Sainsbury’s ad however has a really uplifting feel and is very clear in its support of charity, without making the mistake of potentially trivialising serious events by trying to directly sell any products, as it did last year with its wartime chocolate. Besides, John Lewis should have left ‘Half the World Away’ alone.