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Emotions aren’t just for Christmas

Wednesday 22nd November

skynews-paddington-marks-and-spencer_4150215It’s that time of year again. Pumpkins are barely removed from doorsteps and fireworks are still exploding when they arrive – heart-warming, festive, and inescapable. I’m, of course, talking about Christmas advertisements.

This year, Asda takes us on a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style journey through their Christmas factory, Marks & Spencer has teamed up with the release of the Paddington 2 film for a spin-off adventure, and Aldi has given Kevin the Carrot another treacherous table to cross. And that was just the beginning!

There’s one thing these ads have in common: they all understand the importance of emotions.

None of them include a direct call to action; in fact, the content of the ads often seems entirely unrelated to the offerings of the advertiser. Instead, they’re all trying to sell a feeling. To position themselves as an essential part of Christmas and everything that comes with it; to put themselves into not just the minds, but the hearts, of consumers.

And why spend millions on feelings? Well, because it works.

John Lewis in particular has proven that you can get it all back and more, with a substantial YOY growth ever since starting this form of “emotional advertising”. And this momentum hasn’t slowed – in fact they estimate that their sales increased more than 35% between 2012 and 2016, due to their Christmas advertising. This growth doesn’t purely come from a boost to short term sales over the Christmas period, but from the longer impact it has on the brand as a whole. In a world where people are bombarded with advertisements everywhere they look, creating emotional connections is the real key to long-term profitability.


Of course, while TV plays a huge role in all of this, to really ensure this connection, the campaigns are much bigger and wide-reaching. When out of the handful of words that appear on screen during the video ad, about half is a hashtag, it is clear how important the digital element is in supporting this. For their “Buster the Boxer” campaign last year, John Lewis sponsored a Snapchat lens and filter, released Twitter stickers, and created a VR experience in store. This year saw false leaks and a teaser Twitter account, meaning that the conversation had already begun even before their ad aired. It continues in stores as well – Moz the Monster merchandise is sure to fly off the shelves, along with Paddington paraphernalia, and cuddly carrots.

It’s no secret that emotional advertising is affective, but it can often be forgotten by many in favour of short-term revenue targets. However, while most advertisers don’t have the £7m+ that John Lewis spend on their Christmas campaign to spare, that doesn’t mean that their efforts can’t strive for success in the same way. Through behavioural targeting and well-planned strategies, brands with a smaller budget can efficiently reach the right audience in the right way at the right time – increasing the likelihood of building an emotional connection with their customers.

One of the ways we do this for our clients is by targeting people by their mood or mind set, which, though it may seem trivial, can have a huge impact on the consumer’s perception of a brand and subsequent interaction with it. This is because people make decisions emotionally, and then rationalise them logically – so if we can target them on this hidden, subconscious level, then research shows our advertising will be attended to more, processed more, evaluated more favourably, and remembered more.

While emotional advertising certainly comes to the fore at Christmas-time with these large-scale campaigns each vying for our tears and laughter, it’s important to remember that emotions aren’t just for Christmas. To make people click more, call more, and buy more, we first need to make them feel more – and that’s something that can be on all of our New Year’s resolutions lists.

Article Written by

Hannah Moody

Media Assistant, Total Media

Hannah is a fresh face in the UK Client Services team, after recently graduating from Trinity College Dublin

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