Blog post

‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’

It’s been a couple of years since the last Christmas advert blog, so what’s new? Dr Charles Hancock, Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Derby, comments on the impact of Christmas advertisements this year.

By Dr Charles Hancock - 2 December 2022

Christmas 2022 has landed with a bang, the run up to Christmas feels like it started earlier this year. As soon as the Halloween pumpkin candles were blown out, the first twinkly adverts started to appear, notably the retailers pushing the message of spreading the cost of Christmas.

Using fun to soften the cost of living

We’ve had a tough couple of years, the covid 19 pandemic, political uncertainty and now the financial squeeze on our cost of living. However, Christmas is still coming and for many, that brings worry this year. Retailers know this, so their marketing and advertising campaigns tried to air before the John Lewis flagship advert, with a loud and clear message about giving value to you. The early start is to ensure that they compete for the reduced disposable income that you do have this year, as it’s highly competitive.

One approach at being a bit light-hearted and fun is Tesco’s - ‘Christmas Party’ themed adverts having a play on words after the political upheaval we’ve faced this year. It’s one supermarket who is embracing the storm and bringing a bit of cheer to the public through their upbeat tone. They’re also pushing the value message.

This is closely followed by Aldi’s return of Kevin the carrot, a familiar fun character at Christmas, whose saga continues to spread the message of a lower cost and good value Christmas. Another headlining advert that has taken consumers by storm is the Elf and Asda combination, bringing a fun Christmas celebrity to life and breaking the mould of Christmas advertising, instantly enabling people to recollect the film and associate it with the Asda brand.

Playing with emotions 

The John Lewis advert this year has taken a different tactic but combines some of the regular approaches such as storytelling, a slowed-down tune, and a main character. Where it differs, is that at first an element of comedy is embraced with a man struggling to get to grips with a skateboard, however, eventually, all becomes clear with a mood change, that he was learning to skateboard for the arrival of a foster child. The aim of the advert brings a sombre message home, to remember that there are a significant number of children in the care system. Amazon has taken a leaf out of John Lewis’s book and tried to use the emotional connection of a man ordering a shredder to create fake snow for the snow dome that he’s recreated for his child in the family greenhouse, I think this is a heart-warming advert and a pretty magical one too.

However, one advert that I think has stood out for me this year is the Lidl bear one, a good story about a child’s missing bear, who goes on an adventure only to be returned to the girl in their Lidl sweater. Once again tugging at many emotions of the heart and I have seen viewers numerous social media searches for a chance to purchase the Lidl bear as a Christmas gift. However, the Lidl bear was one of a kind, the official line on Lidl’s social media is that he’s been returned home to the rightful owner. In terms of marketing, he features heavily at stores in physical advertising and in a digital format, and he is the message to get people to donate toys in-store as Christmas gifts for charity. But have Lidl missed a trick this year, with the unknown demand of people wanting that Lidl bear in his cute sweater, with his slightly down-turned smile? Who knows… he could be a last-minute surprise appearing in store just before Christmas!

Time to tighten the belts and keep your spirits up!

The message, I guess is that many of us are struggling this year and that it pays to be kind to each other. Christmas doesn’t have to cost the earth, it’s about family time, good value food, fun, warmth and coming together. It’s a time to reflect on the year that seems to fly by so quickly, with TV markers such as Strictly, I’m a Celebrity and now unusually the World Cup arriving on our screens. Christmas adverts continue to bring a little bit of cheer, sparkle, and warmth to keep our spirits up.

So, get the trees up, hang the baubles, place the tinsel, and dig out your Christmas jumpers. It’s time to get into the Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas one and all!

About the author

Charles Hancock reading a book.

Dr Charles Hancock
Senior Lecturer in Marketing

Charles is the programme leader for MSc Marketing Management. He is an award-winning lecturer with a passion for inspiring students to achieve. He has research interests in discovering deep customer value through using a visual research methodology and is currently interested in exploring the future of the high street.

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