As the much-anticipated John Lewis Christmas advert airs to mixed reviews, branding experts Champions (UK) plc say that for any brand to win hearts, minds and money in the Christmas campaign battle, they need to be simple, significant and sensitive.

Through a clever combination of tactics that tap into their audience’s subconscious, Christmas TV adverts have become part of the Christmas tradition narrative in their own right, and for many, mark the start of the festive period.

However, not every campaign hits the bullseye. A strong, integrated campaign that hits the three S points will help see brands maximise opportunities at the busy shopping period by building awareness, moulding opinions and boosting sales.


Making the overall concept simple and easy to understand is essential, with research* showing simple messaging results in 5-10% more engagement. Some have criticised Moz the Monster for being difficult to follow, with the likes of YouTube star Zoella saying she didn’t “get the storyline”


In today’s market, consumers expect brands to demonstrate social awareness and responsibility as well as financial viability. By acknowledging the issues that affect their target customers, brands are showing they are in touch with the real world and care about what is happening. Asda ticked this box with their themes of inclusion and diversity this year.


Targeting consumers’ emotive responses is key to influencing their buying behaviour, especially when it becomes a talking point. Sainsbury’s campaign three years ago centred on the Christmas Day Truce in the trenches, a highly emotive, human story with poignant connections to the centenary. The campaign was arguably one of the most socially motivated Christmas campaigns ever, and was watched more times than John Lewis’ 2014 festive offering.

As Managing Director of brand agency Champions (UK) plc Matthew Hayes explains, getting a Christmas campaign that hits all the right notes is a crucial part of every retail business’ yearly activity.

“Christmas is a vital time for retailers, with consumers in the market to spend money and receptive to advertising. Last year, John Lewis reported 40% of their festive sales were online**, but competition is stiff, so a strong presence on every channel, not just broadcast, is essential. With the increasing influence of social media, a good campaign needs to drive engagement both in the real world, and the online world. It’s about coming up with a theme that touches people, and one that is shareable.”

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