Christmas creativity: How Kiwi retailers' ads stack up to their foreign counterparts

  • News
  • November 10, 2015
  • Erin McKenzie
Christmas creativity: How Kiwi retailers' ads stack up to their foreign counterparts

We've all seen Whitcoulls’ latest campaign, in which two shop assistants sing the stores Christmas product offerings. Though the ad could be considered a success as the jingle remains in the viewers’ head well into the next ad break, research shows likeability is more important for an ad than its earworm.

Traditionally, advertising has been considered a rational process, but research by ThinkTV suggests it is in fact our subconscious that's in charge. The more emotional the ad, the more it’s recalled.

Hotfoot's chief executive Juanita Neville-Te Rito wrote a post a month or so ago asking why Kiwi retailers weren't taking the opportunity to wow consumers over Christmas like brands overseas do. John Lewis' annual Christmas campaign is widely regarded as the gold standard, with previous efforts like Monty and the Penguin and The Bear and the Hare getting plenty of love. And its newest ad has already received over 10 million views on YouTube—and reduced some in our office to tears.

The UK department store's ‘#ManOnTheMoon’ advert tugs at heartstrings as a little girl missing her front teeth tries to make contact with an adorable old man alone on the moon. With a telescope and a few helium balloons, John Lewis tells the audience to "show someone they're loved this Christmas".

Even PayPal managed to put some magic into the Christmas shopping season with their ad ‘No Presents’. When mum and dad fail to go out and do Christmas shopping, two little boys brace themselves for a tree minus the presents. But, like magic, PayPal becomes the modern day Santa as presents can be ordered and delivered while the children sleep.

Closer to home, The Warehouse’s campaign is a continuation from last year’s ‘What if we let kids do the family Christmas shopping’, by DDB group, where children are given free reign in the store to find presents for the family.

Traditionally, The Warehouse communications have focused on pushing prices but for Christmas, shots of little girls waddling in high heels and little boys picking out handbags for mums and aunties are used to draw in the shoppers. The Warehouse Group’s spokesperson says the team was keen to add another layer to the story.

“Christmas is about bringing people together, reuniting families, celebrating and rewarding each other. You’ll still get a bargain, and now you’ll remember the joy of these kids while shopping for one.”

Countdown has moved away from emotional brand ads in recent years (RIP The Coleman family) and focused more on price-led communications, but that's changed slightly with its Christmas spot. Tempting the tastebuds is Countdown’s aim, as always, but the Christmas shopping list cannot be collected from the ad. Again, the look of joy on children’s faces is employed in the ‘Food Glorious Food’ campaign to bring in the season without any specific product information.

Other UK retailers have taken a more cynical view of Christmas and the difficult (often competitive) art of gift giving. Harvey Nichols suggests frequenting its store to avoid gift face, while Curry's employed the services of Jeff Goldblum to teach people how to respond in difficult situations. Mulberry riffed on the nativity scene this year to follow up its explicitly competitive #WinChristmas campaign from 2014. 

Briscoes still tends to favour the hard-nosed retail ads, but, like its stablemate Rebel Sport, it has moved in a slightly more creative direction in recent years. And its Christmas ad is well-shot and has a similar family-friendly vibe to Countdown's effort. 

However, Skinny Mobile’s ‘The Gift of Gigging advert’ and Yamaha Motors’ advert featuring men and children dressed as blue Santas riding motorbikes suggest advertisers have not given up on appealing to our rational decision making methods. Product-pushing can’t hide behind a Santa costume in these ads.

But it’s not all about the jolly man in red during the ad break this year. Unlike the UK and US, we won’t have a fairytale white Christmas, so Rebel Sport’s ‘#100 Days of Sport’ promotes summer rather than Santa.

While the John Lewis and PayPal ads may provide a guilty Christmas pleasure, you can’t beat the sight of some summer sports and a beach. Just maybe without the speedos.

​ ​

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