The 2023 Christmas Adverts – Marketing Success or Marketing Disaster? (Round 1)
14 December 2023
• Emily Parr
It’s officially the Christmas season! Grab a festive drink, a snack and let’s dive into this year’s first roundup of Christmas adverts. Were they a marketing success or a marketing disaster?
One of the iconic Christmas adverts consumers wait for. Just like last year, Asda has once again been one of the top retailers to put their Christmas advert out into the world first. After last year’s success, with Buddy the Elf which was crowned ‘UK most-liked’, the stakes were high for the supermarket chain. It appears that this is why Asda has pulled another Christmas superstar – Michael Bublé.
Having started with a bang on the 1st of November with the teaser campaign called ‘Pop The Bublé’, all of the Good Morning Britain viewers got a treat when Superstar Michael Bublé greeted them with his iconic classic ‘It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas”
Whilst the budget behind the advert is still unknown, we can imagine Michael Bublé’s Asda debut plus all the glitz and glam spent on production will pay off as Asda competes with the likes of Tesco, Aldi and Lidl as the go-to supermarket this festive season.
The full campaign kicked off 3 days later on The Voice when we saw the true purpose and message behind the Christmas advert. That being that ‘Asda is providing value, but not to the detriment of quality.’
As quoted by Marketing Week “Asda has invested over £100m in price, with around 270 new lines arriving in stores for Christmas.”
Typically, a good sign of a Christmas advert and a good budget is a Christmas campaign with a celebrity or two however, it seems that Asda are only one of the few brands out there that are doing that for the 2023 campaigns. Could we be seeing a new era in Christmas marketing? A big theme of 2023 has been authenticity and with many consumers deciding not to trust influencers and celebrities as much it seems Asda have ignored the consumer want for authenticity!
Despite it having 1 million views within the last 2 weeks, the advert itself should be great but maybe it would’ve been standout 10 years ago when there was that expectation to have a celebrity featured. Now that marketing desires have changed, I think Asda need to start looking at how they can change to meet consumers’ marketing desires.
2023 saw many people struggle to keep up with costs amid the cost of living crisis. As expected many adverts will be bringing awareness to those who have had it rough this year however Shelter has taken a different approach. Rather than focusing on the adults, the charity has focused on a child’s perspective during this festive period.
Titled ‘Good As Gold’ the moving ad stars a young, typical child who overhears the post lady saying “Be good as gold and you’ll get just what you want.” For many children within the UK, this is a typical phrase that they hear in the run-up to Christmas; however the difference is that not many children wish for a stable roof over their heads; however, for the young girl in Shelter’s fictional campaign, this is the reality she faces.
The advert aims to create as much of a real-life experience that many will face on the big day however with many adults struggling themselves, Shelter may have purposely used children this year in order to receive more donations.
Whilst it’s good for charities to be raising awareness, the production behind the advert wouldn’t have been cheap therefore, could there have been other marketing routes Shelter could’ve taken to raise brand awareness so that the budget could be spent on those who will be looking to use the charity over the festive period? Should Shelter have taken a leaf out of Iceland’s marketing campaign and not have made an advert and spent the money elsewhere?
With many brands engaging in the act of charity giving this year, with the likes of Aldi and Lidl encouraging consumers to donate toys and money to their chosen charity this Christmas, has Shelter done enough to stand out from the crowded market?
The advert itself has been curated to make you feel emotion and with the staggering message of 131,000 children having nowhere to call home this Christmas, whether you’re a parent or not, you can’t help but feel emotional towards the young girl portrayed in the advert.
Yes, Argos are still around! It’s a good job because they had a cracking advert this year! Whilst they didn’t go down the same route as Asda with glitz, glamour and Christmas sparkle but rather continued with their animated campaign characters Connie (a doll) and Trevor (a toy dinosaur). Bringing these two characters into Argos’ advert might suggest that these two beloved characters are bringing in some profit for the company henceforth the continuation of them for this year’s 2023 campaign.
Sometimes animation can be a cheaper form of production however, not always. Sometimes brands will want to go down the animation route in order to achieve relatability. In this case
Argos is on top of its game and is staying on this year’s summer trend of ‘Barbie’ and has used Connie, the Barbie-like doll, to hopefully win over audiences.
The 30-second advert has already racked up 5.8 million views on Youtube which has smashed other brand adverts such as Waitrose, M&S Christmas Food and even Asda who all released their adverts around the same time frame. It seems Argos chose wisely this year and wanted to follow in the footsteps of their Spring campaign as Trevor and Connie had racked up an impressive 7.8 million views in Argos’ Spring advert.
Argos’ Head of Campaigns Laura Boothby said: “There was no better way to show off what you can find at Argos this Christmas than bringing back our loveable and family-friendly characters Connie and Trevor.” The campaign hasn’t only just been about Argos making their mark in the 2023 Christmas advert line-up but for Argos itself, the message to its viewers is ‘There’s More To Argos’ than just toys. This message behind the campaigns launched back with their Springtime campaign and has continued throughout 2023.
Considering the message, this would explain why more tech and homeware (third-party advertisements) are featured in Connie’s dance break!
According to Retail Gazette, Argos will also be running this Christmas advert alongside ‘a high-impact out-of-home campaign also running across the country from the 1st of November. So make sure you’re on the lookout for that!
And of course, when creating a brand mascot, it’s likely the brands can make some extra ROI by actually producing toy versions of the mascot. No surprise this is what Argos have done! Any viewers who have taken to Connie and her chic style can buy her doll at the cost of £30. But what about Trevor if dinosaurs are your go-to toy? Fear not but Trevor is also available! Not only that but he doesn’t cost so much. At the respected price of £9, Argos customers can purchase this interactive dino that roars, makes stomping sounds and even has light-up eyes.
The advert itself has gone down a treat this year with many taking to YouTube comments to express their love for either the double act or the advert as a whole. With users making comments such as “I was so hoping that Connie and Trevor would be in a the Argos Christmas ad. I have been a big fan of Connie right from the start. She is now a part of my doll collection.” and “Please keep Connie and Trevor around for a while Argos…love ’em!”
A classic British TV programme is the foundation of Barbour’s Christmas TV advert and I love it! Whilst I am infatuated with Amazon’s ‘Joyride’ Christmas campaign, it’s Barbour that takes the number 1 spot. Maybe it’s my nostalgia for the show from when I was young and when I actually wanted to get up at 7 am or whether this year’s Barbour campaign has just been executed that well. Now the only animated, British classic that I could be talking about is Shaun The Sheep!
Yes, Shaun and the gang have come together in the campaign titled ‘Shaun the Sheep x Baa-bour’ to showcase that sometimes, for the longevity of a garment, ‘it’s best to go to Barbour.’ “With a Barbour wax jacket, age is no limitation and through our Wax for Life initiative, globally every year over 73,000 of our wax jackets are returned to be re-waxed or repaired” as quoted in CountryLiving by Paul Wilkinson, who is Barbour’s Group Commercial Director.
Not only that but he states “This Christmas, we wanted to demonstrate the importance of extending the life of our garments and we’ve been able to achieve this through our partnership with Aardman. Working with Shaun the Sheep and his friends, we’ve created a light-hearted and engaging film that we hope will make people smile this festive season,”
To follow in the footsteps of the Paddington X Barbour Christmas advert of 2022 was a big task to take on however you can’t go wrong with an Aardman animation. Maybe this was also a nod from Barbour to the British farmers out there who have continued to have a rough year with a lack of funding and weather struggles.
Whilst Barbour has stuck to a classic clay animation style for this advert, Aardman has admitted recently to be ‘playing around’ with AI to keep things interesting. This then makes us wonder, from an advertising and marketing perspective, whether or not this could be the end of an era of stop-motion animation. Whilst the odd clay-animated production is bound to happen but if AI can create it faster and of better quality, who’s to say next time we see Shaun The Sheep, he’s not been AI’d!
Whilst nothing has been set in stone and Aardman hopes to see people continue to be interested in stop-motion animation, however, it seems they’re preparing for the inevitable to happen. In the meantime, they will continue to create standout craftsmanship and award-winning movies for our entertainment.
Aldi has surprised me this year. I had automatically expected the advert to not exceed any expectations due to its recurring character of Kevin the carrot once again. Since being on our screens since 2016, it only seems about time that Aldi should come up with a new idea behind their adverts however; with the release of the anticipated film, ‘Wonka’, being released during this festive period, Aldi might actually be onto something with this year’s advert.
The synergies of two brands coming together at Christmas is not unheard of. Brand collaborations with films especially. Wonka, which stars one of 2023’s trendiest actors Timothée Chamelet, is set to be a box office hit due to the story being based on one of Roald Dahl’s most beloved stories. Aldi have grabbed onto that and have made their own knock- off Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Whilst some people might question this, this is actually something very on-brand for Aldi with them known for creating knock-off products. The creators behind the advert might not realise this, but I’m sure that’s a part of the plan for this campaign!
CEO magazine quotes “By their very nature, brand collaborations are innovative because they require the brands taking part to create something new and compelling for each other’s audiences” and whilst this campaign isn’t an official collaboration, the theory behind Aldi’s campaign can still be applied.
Just like Argos with Connie and Trevor, consumers were able to purchase Kevin the Carrot teddies. With Aldi introducing more characters this year, there is even more of a reason for Aldi to expand on the collectable editions.
Year upon year the advert has performed well and why fix something that’s not broken? Whether or not Aldi will continue with Kevin the Carrot next year, who knows? Could we see Aldi try and push their Christmas mascot for 10 years running?
As I briefly mentioned, Amazon’s Joyride has taken my #2 spot for favourite Christmas adverts… so far and the only reason it’s not #1 is due to my nostalgia for Shaun The Sheep.
Whilst many brands take the Christmas advertising opportunity to scream about their brands, Amazon has taken the opposite approach. The team behind the campaign understands that everyone and anyone knows Amazon and that the simple Amazon logo shown for just a couple of shots is more memorable and more quality-driven than some flashy advert with Amazon plastered all over the screen.
The campaign title gives little to nothing away and with that, sometimes it can be more intriguing as to what this big corporate conglomerate has in store for us. (It’s no secret that Amazon will have a big budget behind the campaign as well)
Start.Io claims that Amazon’s main demographic includes ‘adults aged 18 to 60, with 45% in the 35-49 year-old age group.’ With this in mind, you would expect Amazon to aim at that demographic wouldn’t you? Well with big budgets to spend that’s exactly what they haven’t done. Rather they have aimed this year’s advert at the elderly.
For many of the elderly demographic Christmas can be a struggle. With not being able to keep up with the busy crowds or having the confidence to drive with the holiday traffic, Amazon is making itself the go-to brand for accessibility and easiness.
What strikes me is that nothing is said within the advert. Other than a laugh or two from the elderly trio who star in the production, not one word is spoken. Maybe this is why it’s more memorable for me. I think, if there was a spoken script it wouldn’t have the same effect so Amazon have been quite smart in this marketing trick.