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Keeping Christmas creative

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Blockbuster Christmas ads have been a staple of our seasonal TV schedules, ever since John Lewis stole the show with its festive ‘Shadows’ ad in 2007. Emotive and iconic, everyone has their favourite Christmas creative – whether that’s Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot or Sainsbury’s Dickens-inspired 2019 ad, which sold an incredible 34 million oranges.

For 2020, however, our advertising favourites are a little different. With a predicted fall in festive ad spend, and creatives pivoting towards homely, family-focused themes, this year’s Christmas ads are feel-good in a more sedate fashion. From bumpy production roads and pressure to restore lost revenues, to dramatic changes in consumers’ media consumption and shopping habits, advertisers are no doubt juggling many baubles in the run up to Christmas. Let’s take a look at how TV advertising can still support this year’s festive season.

Sweeping the snow from production paths

The pandemic has no doubt disrupted the usual timeline for Christmas ads, from planning through to post-production. While most brands lay the groundwork for their end-of-year ad campaigns in January, the unexpected whirlwind of 2020 will have altered their initial concepts and ongoing schedules. So, between budget constraints and logistical workarounds, how can brands balance their current challenges with the need to create impactful ads – doing more with less resources?

Some CMOs feeling the pinch may have thought about cancelling Christmas, but in the midst of an economic downturn, “going dark” is only a short-term solution to managing reduced ad budgets. Advertisers that cut out TV spend risk their ‘brand use’ dropping 24%, a critical misstep when some brands generate 80% of their revenue over the festive season. To take advantage of this prime time for driving sales, advertisers must get savvy when choosing the right channel, tone and message. Even without huge, cinematic-style ads, TV can still lead the advertising sleigh through the 2020 snowstorm and deliver returns this Christmas.

Lighting up Christmas creative

Consumers will be a captive audience this year and with a second wave of lockdowns occurring this winter, 47% of viewers are looking to seasonal ads for a little merriment, while 31% are hoping for a nostalgic vibe. From touching on the realities of lockdown living to celebrating NHS workers, brands can leverage Christmas as the crucible for creativity that it is, bringing festive cheer to their consumers. From putting a man on the moon to seasonal Coca Cola truck tours, ad land has the talent and flexibility to respond to shifting consumer behaviours in a creative capacity.

For example, take a look at Boots’ innovative 2019 campaign with Ogilvy, which invested over half (55%) of its budget in digital. It kept TV as an essential element of its marketing mix, but used it to communicate value and drive consumers online, where interactive creative transformed interest into conversions with highly personalised, shoppable ads. Linear and OTT alike have witnessed significant spikes in consumption following the nationwide lockdowns, opening a wide door for advertisers looking to roll out highly creative, multi-channel ad campaigns.

Making seasonal campaigns sparkle

TV advertisers can overcome the impact of a difficult year by making smarter investments in creative ad placements. Half of consumers will be spending all of their Christmas budgets online, so brands need a clear view of how TV ad creative influences their digital success. To do this effectively, advertisers must construct an ongoing, comprehensive picture of their customer bases through always-on attribution tools. With data-driven insights, they can build an in-depth understanding of audiences, their response rates, and how both their viewing and buying habits shift over time.

This will lay the true groundwork for effective Christmas campaigns in 2020. By feeding these insights into an adaptable, test-and-learn strategy, advertisers can guarantee their Christmas creative is best placed to reach and engage target audiences. Whether through exploring different days, dayparts, or genres, brands can identify the factors that drive the strongest consumer response and maximise ROI. The ability to deliver informed, flexible ad campaigns transforms TV into a cost-effective channel – one that will generate high performance and continuous value over the festive period.

The winter months won’t be gloomy for smart TV advertisers. Restyling Christmas ads for increasingly online shoppers – and monitoring creative performance through sophisticated attribution techniques – will allow brands to maintain their market presence and reconnect with consumers. By deploying advanced strategies for their TV ad creative, brands can get the highest return for their festive campaigns.

By Marlene Grimm, Head of International Customer Success, TVSquared

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