If you’re about to embark on a career in marketing or advertising, know this one thing: you will NEVER look at advertising in the same way again. Gone are the days of sitting in the cinema, blithely stuffing popcorn while 15 minutes of ads for banks, beauty brands and booze wash over you. Forget strolling past shop windows and bus stops with your brain in another world, or checking Instagram on the tube platform. You’ll begin to absorb and analyse everything, and before long every strategy or creative meeting will begin with a download of all the interesting things you’ve seen this week.
Christmas comes with bonus gifts, as festive campaigns begin to roll out from early November. By now you’ve probably seen your first ‘Christmas All Wrapped Up’ campaign, soon to be followed by a snowy flurry of lazy advertising tropes about love, family and tradition. ‘Tis the season, after all.
So, if this is your first Christmas in the magical world of marketing, prepare yourself to analyse those famous festive TV ads in an entirely different way. Ten years ago, big budget festive TV ads didn’t even exist. They’ve crept up on us, along with Black Friday and £150 advent calendars. But right now, I’m picking apart two or three a day, asking important (but deeply unfestive) questions about how it makes me feel, whether it ladders up to the wider brand purpose and what the role of the product is. After all, Christmas ads aren’t just about making you cry. They’re about making you shop.
I’m not going to give you a full run down of this year’s runners and riders for the festive TV ad prize. Plenty of other marketers are already on the case. And anyway, the big guns are yet to declare (I’m looking at you, John Lewis).
But I did want to draw your attention to one that caught my eye today, from leading high street beauty retailer Boots. Entitled ‘Gifts That Get Them’, where an eye-rolling teenage girl has that moment of realisation that her mum is not just her mum, but also a woman with dreams and talents who loves a touch of glamour and sparkle.
The accents are sporadic, and the dubious re-write of Robbie William’s ‘She’s The One’ doesn’t really scan or rhyme, but I loved it; partly as the mother of an eye-rolling teenage daughter, but also as a marketer. It perfectly captures Boots’ brand purpose around how beauty makes you feel, and the insight is timeless – that a gift that shows you ‘get’ someone means so much more than splashing out on designer labels. In this case it’s a bright red No. 7 lipgloss (£10 in Boots stores). The festive thread in a perennial tale that is perfectly, exclusively Boots.
It won’t be the most talked about festive TV ad of the year. Nor the one that cost the most. But it might be one of the few that reminds people that thoughtful gifts are often the most treasured. That beauty products are a great way to make someone feel special. And that Boots is the place for value, inspiration and exclusive brands. If an ad can do all that 90 seconds, that’s a festive job well done.