How to stand out from the marketing crowd at Christmas

The long-awaited festive John Lewis ad is out today. Here's how your business can break through the noise too.

by Alexander Garrett

Crimbo is nigh, and with it the battle to win over consumers and get to the top of everyone’s pressie list. So how do you make your brand stand out in the blitzkrieg of festive advertising and marketing?

Plan early. ‘Supply lines for Christmas are very long,’ says Jacques de Cock, a faculty member at the London School of Marketing. ‘So you need to have ordered your key product lines by the end of the summer break. You can’t be spontaneous because supply lines will become jam-packed.’

Get talked about. It’s a fact: the media is obsessed with Christmas campaigns and this is the one time of year when advertising consistently makes the news. Make yours the attention-grabbing one, and you’ll get a whole lot of free column inches. ‘If you’re a significant British retailer and the trade and consumer press aren’t anticipating your campaign before it breaks then you’re already behind,’ says Alice McGinn, a planning partner at Grey Advertising. ‘Like it or not, it is a part of UK Christmas culture, signalling the kick-off to the season.’

Embrace the festive spirit. Wrap your marketing in tinsel, daub snowflakes over your website, partner with a charity and share the goodwill of the season – even if it is a bit tacky. ‘Avoid anything negative or dismissive,’ says de Cock, ‘and never make fun of Christmas. This is the one period in the year when the whole of society doesn’t want cynicism – people want a bit of make-believe.’

Give it feeling. Emotion is the trump card of Christmas advertising. McGinn says: ‘At Christmas emotion is disproportionately important because – corny or not – it’s a time when we get together to enjoy each others company and have a good time. It’s also important because when giving a gift you want what you’re buying to have an emotional impact on the receiver.’ But try to look beyond the tear jerking.

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