20-11-2013

Battle of the Christmas ads: Magic & Sparkle or The Bear and the Hare?

Author: Alexa Mills

It’s that time of year again when the big retailers introduce their Christmas TV ads and we begin to hear the soundtracks seep through the airwaves – ones that we will, no doubt, forever associate with the ad.

Author: Alexa Mills

AttributionSome rights reserved by donnierayjones

It’s that time of year again when the big retailers introduce their Christmas TV ads and we begin to hear the soundtracks seep through the airwaves – ones that we will, no doubt, forever associate with the ad.

I don’t know about you but I love it – it’s a great opportunity to analyse why they work, what affect they will have on consumers and what new creative ideas are behind the wider campaigns.

So, this year we have the M&S ‘Magic & Sparkle’ ad – that takes us through all the movie greats from Alice in Wonderland to The Wizard of Oz – and John Lewis’s animated ‘The Bear & The Hare’, bringing a tear to our eye as Lily Allen serenades us through the story of a bear who is woken out of hibernation in time for Christmas.

Where do I begin?

One aims to capture the attention of both sexes with attractive protagonists and sparkly products (available to purchase in-store of course!), and the other depends on the strapline of ‘Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget’, to sell the idea of luxury and exclusivity – perfectly aligned to JL’s target consumer demographic.

The wider campaigns of the ads this year are really exploring the realms of cross-media well, and moving consumers on a journey that glides from platform to platform seamlessly. John Lewis takes us from the YouTube video to the company’s website where we can create Christmas e-cards to share via social media, buy soft toys of the iconic characters, read the story of ‘The Bear who had never seen Christmas’, and even provide Twitter handles so we can contact @JohnLewisBear and @JohnLewisHare themselves. The Bear’s cave is also available to visit in 11 stores nationwide.

M&S, although more sales-push focused, is clever in its execution of taking customers to products with ease. Although the conclusion of the video on YouTube doesn’t seem to want us to go directly to the corporate website necessarily – instead it wants us to view interviews with the stars and see ‘behind the scenes’ footage – when you do go to the M&S site it all ties in with the ad campaign perfectly. 

From here we can meet (and buy!) ‘Sparkle’ the dog who appears throughout the campaign, find products depicted in the TV ad as well as exploring other clothes and accessory ranges linking back to the overall theme including ‘Into Wonderland’, ‘The Hatter’s Tea Party’ and ‘Yellow Brick Road’. And, Helena Bonham Carter – great choice (if not type-cast once again!).

Whilst both firms have created beautiful TV ads, I must say that M&S have lost the battle for me by resorting to the defeatist tactic of paid-for ads on YouTube to hijack the search phrase ‘John Lewis Christmas Advert 2013’. This means that if you enter this phrase in the YouTube search function, the first video you will see is M&S. This may have been seen as being clever once upon a time – now it just demonstrates a total lack of imagination. Quite ironic really when the ad itself is the epitome of creative thinking.

John Lewis, in my eyes you take the Christmas ad campaign crown every time!

Which one is your favourite?