Marketers have a responsibility to spread goodwill towards all men this Christmas

The Lidl campaign this year has really struck a chord
The Lidl campaign this year has really struck a chord

Jo Arden, head of strategy at 23red, explains why brands need to do more than just sell stuff this Christmas. It's time to stop talking and start doing - these are the new authenticity rules.

There is much hyperbole being talked currently about the need for marketing to be meaningful and a force for good but, this Christmas, we need to stop talking and start doing. The world, for many, is a lonely and sometimes scary place as we approach 2016, so we should take every chance to make it less so where we can.

As marketers this means using the season of excess to do more than just sell more. With increased engagement with customers through almost every channel, Christmas provides a unique opportunity to delight and inspire. It’s a chance to bring humanity back to the festive season.

Help people see Christmas like a child

Even a shopping centre’s festive campaign can help to lift the collective spirits of the nation. That is why our mission in creating Bluewater’s Christmas campaign was to encourage people to leave their world-weary adult lives behind and see Christmas through the eyes of a child once again. We wanted to encourage people to wholeheartedly embrace the magic of the season.

Many a marketing guru has said that the best creativity comes from putting a part of yourself into the work and connecting to something bigger than the brief. That is what our philosophy "Do. Feel. Think" is all about, and certainly what we’ve done in this campaign.

A message isn't just for Christmas

And Bluewater is not alone in using this opportunity to send a message that lasts longer than the turkey. Sainsbury’s beautiful Mog the Cat ad is a campaign after our own hearts. This year they have partnered with Save the Children to inspire adults and children alike to be swept away in the Christmas story – and in a very practical way too by selling both the special edition Mog the Cat and the story book in store. Here’s hoping that households around the country are turning the TV off on Christmas day to read it together.

There could be more focus on what we could all actually do to reach a hand out to people in our own, non-lunar communities

John Lewis has caught the nation’s attention once again with the Man on the Moon – a compelling piece of film that reinforces everything great about their brand and reminds us that Christmas is not a happy time for many in this country. The web presence that supports the Man on the Moon has some great resources but perhaps there could be more focus on connecting people with the issue of loneliness at Christmas. It seems like an opportunity missed for the millions of people affected in the UK.

The range of fundraising products is great but there is a lack of any other direct action. The online moon resources for children are sweet but I wonder whether, whilst people are on there, engaged with the issue and to a degree, with the Age UK partnership – there could be more focus on what we could all actually do to reach a hand out to people in our own, non-lunar communities.

Igniting the feels

So if the aim is ask people to think of others – then that needs to be delivered really strongly across all channels, otherwise it starts to feel a bit disingenuous. And authenticity is crucial to continued consumer support – more so now than it has ever been.

Authenticity is crucial to continued consumer support – more so now than it has ever been

Which perhaps is why the Lidl campaign this year has really struck a chord. At the School of Christmas, all generations come together to work though some of the festive frustrations – from untangling lights to lighting a Christmas pudding. Doubtlessly fun to shoot and edited to feel as off-kilter and funny as the day itself, there is no doubting the retailer's understanding of what’s going on in the home’s of their customers at this time of year.

And finally, Harvey Nichols speaks to the inner child in all of us but in a totally different way. Maybe compared to loneliness and literacy, getting well-meaning but terrible gifts is not an issue we need necessarily to solve. But, everything has context and, whilst we may not admit it, we recognise a bit of ourselves in it. So wry smiles, or forced smiles aside, it feels kind of good.


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