Christmas commercials this year fall into two main categories – the typical emotional family scenario using humour or sentiment and those which take a more darkly comic approach with a nod to the stress the season can bring.
QUT Creative Advertising lecturer Michael Klaehn said unlike regular ads, people want to watch Christmas ads as they are made to entertain. Many go viral through social media shares, with ‘new releases’ eagerly anticipated. His pick for the best of 2017 is the Air New Zealand offering which cleverly focuses on the unique Kiwi accent.
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“The most popular ads are viewed many millions of times on YouTube and are capable of spawning spin-offs including ‘making of’ videos, teasers, vision of people reacting to the new ad and parodies, all of which also attract views,” Mr Klaehn said.
“My favourite Australian ads are Lego, Arnott’s, Officeworks and Target with the best being Aldi featuring Doug the 40 year champion of Xmas cricket. You can’t play that in the snow. It’s a great Australian Xmas ad and so relevant to Australia where we have such a different Christmas culture; a fact which gives our brands a licence to depart from tradition.”
Mr Klaehn said most of the action was online and the format allowed for longer commercials.
“We are still seeing ads on television and in Australia that does still seem to be the main market for them but in the UK, it’s all about a multi-platform approach led by online. This trend can only grow locally as television audiences continue to decline,” he said.
“Online is where ads can go viral and it’s where brands can target videos at select markets based on region, behaviour, search history or site visited.
“The most hotly anticipated ad is the annual John Lewis offering and before it was unveiled, a mystery Twitter account named @UnderTheBed2017 tweeted a video teaser.
“Although I think the Australian Aldi ad is better, John Lewis’ #MozTheMonster Christmas ad has had more than eight million views. Parodies of it feature the likes of Donald Trump or Kevin Spacey under the bed.
“I also prefer the American Audi ad. It’s an exciting departure from the sentimental white Christmas, family coming together motif and shows the challenges of negotiating carparks at Christmas. We all know Christmas can be a very stressful time - it’s not all reindeers and rosy-cheeked children unwrapping presents under a pretty tree.”
Mr Klaehn said other brands had used star power or employed acclaimed directors to create mini movies. The Spanish Lottery ad ‘Danielle’ is an 18-minute affair from Oscar winner Alejandro Amenábar. In contrast, Old Spice has given the world a one-hour Ye Olde Exploding Yule Log with actor Terry Crews.
“Debenhams has gone for a clever modern take on Cinderella that incorporates the power of social media and features actor Ewan McGregor. This one is proving a favourite of critics,” he said.
“After a slightly odd ad last year featuring Frankenstein, Apple has also pumped for romance with Sway, starring New York dancers Christopher Grant and Lauren Yatango-Grant, who are married in real life, and a soundtrack from Sam Smith.
“Another for Marks & Spencer stars Paddington Bear voice by Ben Whishaw, includes a cameo by British newsreader Angela Rippon and is a lovely and funny little story.”
Mr Klaehn said another trend was the continuation of stories from past years by brands including Heathrow Airport and its #heathrowbears, and Myers, which brings us Angel, Elf, Mouse and Reindeer for a third year.
“What all the good ads have in common is a mix of human and emotional triggers coupled with extremely high production values and the brand almost an afterthought,” he said.
Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151, email@example.com
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