Hark The Herald Adverts Sing

If you spot me doing a robo-dance today it is because I am getting into the spirit of ‘Cyber Monday’. Yes, today is the day when – with the last payday before Christmas safely stashed in our bank accounts – a record number of Christmas shoppers are predicted to scroll and click their way to the busiest day ever in the history of online shopping.

That’s ever, until next year.

But while a mountain of media attention is focused on this impressive – and highly visible – online effect, spare a thought for the causes, which are primarily offline and not always so instantly obvious.

There are lots of pre-Christmas cultural-commercial ‘events’ now; we’ve just had Black Friday and now we’re knee deep in Cyber Monday. And another big festive milestone is of course the Christmas advertising – in particular, the TV advertising – which we know fuels so much of the online activity. And this year it feels as though the Christmas TV campaigns have been more culturally significant and have caught more of the public and media imagination than in previous years. From Today to the tabloids, everyone went big on the Christmas ad campaigns this year – so much so that some have likened the Christmas TV advertising to a ‘Superbowl moment’. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I know what they mean.

One of the clear trends this year has been the move towards big emotional advertising. Lots more advertisers seem to be going for the heart over the head – and nothing does emotion like TV.

hark the herald ads sing killer charts 5slide2

This isn’t a case of everyone ‘doing a John Lewis’ but John Lewis was in the vanguard of smart advertisers tapping in to the proven superior effectiveness of emotional advertising as revealed by the mind-bogglingly clever econometric studies by Binet and Field with the IPA (we’ve produced a film with the IPA which looks at the development of John Lewis’s Christmas campaigns called ‘Making the nation cry…and buy’).

This year we have had more emotional campaigns than I can remember. Marks and Spencer’s ‘Alice in Oz’, Tesco’s ‘A Family Christmas’, Sainsbury’s ‘Christmas Moments’ and John Lewis’s ‘The Bear and the Hare’ to name a few (you can watch them here). And this outpouring of emotion has coincided with Christmas TV advertising becoming a cultural landmark like never before – amplified by the social media sharing and commentary that now accompanies the ad campaigns.

Whatever your opinion of whether Christmas starts too early – and personally I’d like to have it all year round – the TV advertising has become its cultural starting point. It isn’t really approaching until the ads are on.


10 ‘people watching’ TV picks

From people dating, to people travelling the world, to people… watching people on TV. Check out our 10 TV picks.


Signalling Success: the event

Tune in from 9.30am on Thursday 5th November for a deep dive into our newest research, plus sessions with Richard Shotton and Rory Sutherland.


Highlights from ITV

The Million Pound Cube begins, presented by Phillip Schofield. Celebrity Juice is back on our screens. The Real Housewives of Cheshire open up about motherhood. Famous faces compete together in The Chase Celebrity Special.