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The naughty list: three brands getting coal for Christmas

5th December 2019 |

From the 1st November, bubbling cauldrons and eerie pumpkin carvings take a backseat as countless Christmas campaigns take over our screens. For the most part, they’re just as cliché as you’d expect: adults driving back to their childhood home; children tearing open presents under an exquisitely presented tree; families gathering around the dining table for a festive feast. So, it’s all about incorporating original storytelling with an unexpected twist – plus a dash of familiarity for good measure. 

Since 2007, John Lewis’ Christmas adverts have topped the leaderboards when it comes to the public’s favourite TV adverts. But this year, there’s a new kid on the block – and they’ve well and truly stolen John Lewis’ crown. Ikea have just launched their first ever Christmas advert, ‘Silence The Critics’, and they’ve received praise from critics and the general public alike. Their quirky concept and seamless execution make this an ad that’s memorable, attention-grabbing and right on-brand for the furniture retailer. 

Unfortunately, not all brands are quite so lucky – in fact, most aren’t. For us, there were three brands that didn’t quite hit the mark. 

Iceland

Last year, Iceland’s banned Christmas ad didn’t actually make it on to our TV screens as it breached advertising regulations, but it did cause a stir online. On YouTube it reached over six million views, and environmentalists took to social media to share their support. Although Iceland’s 2018 campaign didn’t quite go as planned, there was certainly a lot of user-generated content and audience engagement for them to capitalize on. 

And, yet again, this year it seems like Iceland just can’t get it right. Their marketing team must’ve been delighted to hear that the much-anticipated release of Disney’s Frozen II would co-incide with the festive season. Doesn’t it just tie in perfectly with the tagline of their 2019 Christmas ad – ‘discover the magic of frozen’? Well, no, not really. In all honesty, a £1 bag of frozen carrots or broccoli florets isn’t all that magical. 

During their 40 second ad, just 15 seconds of their own footage is used – with the rest being made up of animated clips featuring characters from Frozen IITheir social media presence is equally lacklustre, with muddled messaging on Instagram and a repetitive, relentless stream of tweets promoting the same money-saving deals and gifs on Twitter. 

Amazon 

For the third time, the singing cardboard boxes are back. While the tabloids call it ‘merry’ and ‘full of yuletide cheer’, many of us simply wanted to see something new in Amazon’s 2019 Christmas ad. This time around, Lucky Generals, the agency behind the campaign, have decided to shift the focus to the all-singing, all-dancing consumers.  

But following recent complaints about working conditions for Amazon employees, it’s left many viewers labelling the ad as ‘commercial propganda’ used to glamourise the way the business operates and how staff are treated. Amazon position themselves as a friendly, family orientated business – but in reality, they’re the world’s largest online retailer with a number of unfortunate headlines to their name. 

Tiffany & Co 

We’ll admit, Tiffany & Co’s festive ice rink in Covent Garden is tempting us to get on the ice and make a complete fool of ourselves, but we’re struggling to see how it’ll boost sales. Sure, the photogenic scenery will attract plenty of bloggers and Instagrammers who will take plenty of snaps to share on their blogs and social media… but is a free ice rink really the best tactic the marketing team could muster up? 

Previously, we’ve seen Tiffany & Co fill the streets of London with taxis painted in their iconic shade of duck egg blue and set up pop-up shops to personalise new purchases with monogrammed initials. For a 180-year-old luxury brand that oozes sophistication, this is a move that’s more cliché than classy.

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