An Alternative Look At Christmas

How some agencies are playing with the codes of the festive season in innovative ways.

by Mark Tungate , Adforum

For some time now, Christmas advertising has meant big budget films designed to warm the heart. Those are always entertaining, but there are other ways of using the festive season to communicate brand messages.

Take Aldi in France for example. The retailer is already famous for its amusing price comparison ads. Here it takes the idea a step further by asking consumers to take part in a taste test. Which of these Christmas treats is the most tasty – the cheapest, or the most expensive? As the title “The Real Surprise of Christmas” suggests, there’s a little twist at the end. And it doesn’t involve a guy with a beard.

Now let’s go to Denmark, where the inventive agency Robert/Boison & LikeMinded had an idea that would add some extra excitement to Christmas on behalf of its client, the Danish National Lottery. Based on the insight that most Danes ask for the same old boring Christmas presents – and yes, we do mean socks – the agency has created The Lotto Christmas Collection. Boring presents, but with the addition of a genuine lottery number. Suddenly, those socks look a little more sexy.

In a certain part of the United States, Christmas started early this year. Really early. Back in July, in fact, when Burger King and David The Agency decided that Americans couldn’t wait for 2020 to end – so wound the calendar forward a bit.

Talking of kings, what do you do if you’re not particularly associated with the holidays, but want to stand out anyway? That was the task facing Spanish agency PS21 and its client KFC. They decided that a conventional TV campaign wouldn’t cut it. So they launched a PR initiative that had the entire country betting on whether King Felipe VI would say the word “chicken” in his annual speech.

By now, the streets are full of blazing Christmas lights. So why not use some of them as media? Here are two quick films from last year that show agencies doing just that – and for good causes too.

Singapore is one place you wouldn’t necessarily associate with a traditional Christmas. But in fact the multicultural hub embraces the festive spirit, as this next clip shows. More interestingly, the spot identifies archetypes of local Christmas shopper. (Look out for the influencer.) The tone of the piece by the agency Iris is refreshingly comic and upbeat.

Okay, at the beginning we promised you an alternative to big-budget films. But as a grand finale we couldn’t resist adding this gem from Goodby Silverstein & Partners for Comcast’s Xfinity service. Partly because it features Steve Carrell in the role of, you guessed it, the guy with the beard. Christmas is still Christmas, after all.