The best Xmas 2015 ads can offer a few good lessons to marketers and advertisers.
Let’s look at the top ads, see how they stack up, and dive into some top takeaways and lessons you can apply in your marketing.
Duracell – Star Wars
This year’s Duracell ad features a pair of children diving straight into the Star Wars universe.
After a battle with the Empire’s forces, we return to reality, watching the kids playing with toy lightsabers. The voiceover declares, “Never underestimate the power of imagination,” then follows with a Duracell battery and a quick Star Wars plug.
- Brand names are powerful. Star Wars lends significant credibility to the Duracell name. Partner with non-competitors whenever possible.
- Never underestimate the power of imagination. Many people’s lives don’t involve fantastic adventures, so offer an escape. However unrealistic the tie to the brand, it can sell a point or a product.
- Pay attention to time limits. This ad clocks in at 1:00 exactly, which works for two reasons. For one thing, it’s short enough for the majority of viewers. For another, the time limit is round, even, exact, and visible as soon as viewers hit the page…this number itself was clearly calculated to go down smoothly.
BBC One – For Christmas Together
In this ad, which also clocks in at exactly one minute, a sprout wanders lonely and lost. The ad follows him as he meets a few characters, none of whom “love a sprout.” After several rejections, he finds himself at a dinner table surrounded by BBC One celebrities, such as Doctor Who and Sherlock. At Christmas, “everyone loves a sprout” and “For Christmas together, BBC One.”
- The 1:00 ad length applies here again. Studies have shown that video length and the thumbnail are two key factors that determine whether audiences will hit the play button or not. Videos longer than 2 minutes tend to lose views and decrease engagement quickly, which may be why the 1:00 ad is followed by a 1:00 montage of shows, making the YouTube video 2:00 exactly.
- Celebrity boosts recognition. The ad is narrated by the actor who plays Doctor Who, and the final selling point is a table surrounded by BBC One celebrities. This virtual, celebrity family appeals to the viewer as an extension of their family – so even if viewers identify with the Sprout Boy, they can find comfort and warmth with the BBC One family.
Coca Cola – A Bridge for Santa
This Brazilian short film opens with a boy asking his father about Santa Claus…who has apparently never visited this town. During the ad, the town comes together to build a bridge that will give Santa access to the town. Coca Cola’s well-known, illuminated Christmas trucks then roll into town and the boy finally meets the Christmas figure.
- Marketing isn’t limited to traditional ads. This ad is actually a short film, which was screened at theaters across Brazil. It clocks in at almost 5 minutes, requiring more attention than the other ads we’ve looked at so far. However, this longer format adds more complexity, depth, and emotion – which, in turn, increase brand awareness and presence.
- Heartstrings are meant to be tugged. The caravan rolls into town and brings Christmas and Santa to the boy who has never experienced them. The Coca Cola brand, then, redeems Christmas for this young boy.
- Technology is just a platform for the story. This story itself, written by a well-known journalist and moviemaker, is the real meat of the campaign. The story itself will be told throughout Brazil via the real-life Coca Cola caravans. And for those who can’t experience the parades in real life, they will be able to vicariously experience them inside Google Cardboard.
Lloyd Bank and Apple Pay – Love You to the Stars
In this ad, a young girl narrates her efforts to find a gift for her mother, who says she already has all she wants. The girl wants to buy her mother a star, but her dad says there are some things money can’t buy. The elf, however, reveals that you can buy a star. Thanks to Apple Pay and Lloyd Bank, she bought her mother the rights to name a star.
- Christmas stories are emotionally driven stories of loss and redemption. These ads tend to focus on a problem that stands in the way of familial love. At the close of each story, the problem is resolved and family prevails. This ties closely in to the spirit of Christmas, so brands would be wise to follow similar patterns in their advertising efforts.
- Brands are heroes. The story arcs follow characters who run into an obstacle that threatens the spirit of Christmas. And brands are always the catalyst that save the day.
From these ads, we learned that stories are the most powerful vehicle to convey emotion and sell brands. Not all Christmas ads follow the same story arc, but with these, we see the same underlying pattern. Brands rescue the spirit of Christmas and enable families to experience the full joy of the holidays.