How brands are getting smart to get noticed at Christmas

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Team Curious



Ah Christmas, truly the most wonderful time of the year, and the time every brand is trying to harness customers’ feel-good festive cheer to improve their results.

The competition between brands to capture consumers’ attention has pushed Christmas advertising spending to over £6B in the UK alone. In such an overcrowded landscape, let’s take a look at how brands are using technology and ingenuity to be noticed, particularly how they are using the 5 senses to do so. 

Just as no Christmas wish list is complete without the latest gadget, no Curious post would be complete without many advertisers’ new favourite toy; AR. 

The Business Fairy Digital Marketing Agency
 are selling Christmas Cards this year which have an extra AR message when viewed through your smart device. One example they show is of a greetings card with a cartoon of John Lennon and Yoko Ono under mistletoe but when the card is viewing through a phone, a video of Lennon’s Imagine plays over the top.

This has exciting implications for wider advertising, especially when it comes to the sensory experiences, as we have been showcasing this Curious season.

The main criticism of AR is that it doesn’t quite feel lifelike, however by putting it on a physical card which customers can touch and smell, AR adds a new way to use sight and sound for your advertising, without sacrificing the other senses. Perhaps advertisers can start making use of the 900+ million Christmas cards sent by Britons each year as a new media channel.

Many other advertisers have also been combining other senses with touch in order to stand out. Royal Mail have launched four carol-singing postboxes around the country, which serenade customers who put a letter into them, giving them free digital advertising every time a customer posts a video on social media. Additionally, Swarovski have used digital to create surprising new OOH instillations called ‘Sparkling Boxes’.

Hijacking physical spaces for extra advertising doesn’t require the latest technology or expensive digital creations though.

These boxes, styled as giant-sized Christmas presents, let customers interact with them differently on all 4 sides, including taking a GIF of themselves and taking a virtual tour of the must-have Swarovski products this Christmas.

Hijacking physical spaces for extra advertising doesn’t require the latest technology or expensive digital creations though. With the knowledge that thousands of customers would be seeing Fenwick’s famous Christmas window display in Newcastle (and sharing it on social media) the Gregg’s store opposite had a custom mirror-image sign made. Meaning every picture of the famous display prominently featured the Gregg’s logo in all its glory, flipped back the right way round in the reflection.

Some effective ways to make ads stand out this year have been through innovative media buying. John Lewis created a stir before unveiling their latest Christmas ad by changing the theme music to Coronation Street and Good Morning Britain to piano music instead. This then linked to the piano-themed Elton John Lewis advert, released the next day. Waitrose also messed with ITV’s scheduling in preparation for their ad. To promote their ads, featuring people being too impatient for various Christmas tropes because the food is too tempting, Waitrose had the TV programme announcer pretend to be distracted by food, and forget what shows were up next. 

Finally, Poundland have decided yet again to make their content stand out by just using good, old-fashioned outrage. In a direct contrast to the millions spend on big-budget Christmas ads à la John Lewis and Partners, the high-street budget retailer have continued their controversial campaign from last year, showing an Elf-on-the-Shelf toy in various outrageous positions. Poundland then brag that their Christmas advertising cost merely £25.53, fitting nicely into the company’s image as a money-saver for customers.

Whether through AR, or outrage, brands are continually thinking of new ways to stand out from the crowd, particularly around Christmas time, and 2019 is sure to have much more innovation in store. But for now, we wish you a Merry Christmas from the whole Curious team.

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