Industry Updates

Advertisers can take inspiration from worldwide Christmas campaigns

28 Dec 2015

The festive season is once again upon us, and while most of us are thinking about what to cook for the family feast, marketers are facing something scarier than an overcooked turkey – the fear that their marketing messages will fail to grab consumer attention over the busiest commercial time of the year. Those who manage to achieve this run innovative campaigns that are eye-catching and memorable.

With Christmas just a few days away and the IAB Digital Summit and Bookmark Awards following in March, it’s a good time to give a nod some of the global IAB award winners who created brilliant Christmas campaigns for their clients.

“In addition to all the clutter created by a host of competing messages, many people switch off when they go on holiday during this time and do not consume media the way they would normally do,” says Josephine Buys, CEO of IAB SA. “This means that they don’t buy the newspaper or access content online through their work computers anymore. However, most continue to go online through their handheld devices, which is why the importance of digital marketing is increasing every year, particularly with regards to season-specific marketing.

One of the most innovative campaigns to date was launched by Havas Worldwide Sydney. The campaign actually managed to influence Christmas shopper behaviour. The eBay Xmas Gift Engine campaign involved a redesign of the search algorithm from an items search to an interests search. Essentially, by simply knowing two things that the person they were purchasing for liked, users were able to create a highly personalised gift guide of items available on eBay. The campaign was aimed at providing inspiration and putting the joy back into gift giving around the Christmas season.  The campaign went further to create an innovative Facebook app that also incorporated the new algorithm, which tapped into the user’s Facebook likes to translate the information into great, personalised gift ideas. The number of buyers grew by about 10% year on year and, over the peak of the campaign, eBay had its biggest three weeks on record, including the highest number of buyers in a single week. Watch the advert here,

Another stand-out campaign came from UK-based web design and development company Torchbox. They sent a link to clients and friends with a picture of the entire team. Each person in the team sang one note to create a Christmas carol soundboard that allowed people to choose between a number of carols to listen to. They also created a number of non-Christmas tunes, including a Knight Rider theme that even caught the attention of David Hasselhoff, who mentioned it in a tweet. The campaign communicated that the agency cares about its clients, left everyone with a warm feeling, and considerably increased its visibility due to the exposure it generated. See it here,

Another IAB-awarded UK campaign underlined how the right approach can achieve results for clients, even during the Christmas marketing noise. Online retailer tasked agency Somo with devising a mobile campaign to make their Christmas offers stand out from a slew of competitors from both fronts, online and physical. The mobile channel was chosen because the majority of the retailer’s traffic came from smartphones and tablets. In partnership with Shazam, mobile activity was triggered by the advert soundtracks of both and its competitors to extend the reach of the television advert. Shoppers on the busiest streets received highly geo-targeted messages to inform them of a stress-free online shopping alternative. This was supported by a digital countdown on Twitter that created shopping urgency by informing potential shoppers of the last day of guaranteed Christmas delivery. The campaign was a massive success, with total Christmas sales increasing by 23% year on year.

Watch it here

On the local front, Where Rainbows Meet, a constructive NPO from Vrygrond in Cape Town, launched its clever crowd-funded Adopt a Child for Christmas campaign for a second year in a row.

The simple and cost-effective campaign encourages people to make donations towards Christmas presents for impoverished children in the community, some of whom have never received a gift before.

Last year, through the power of social media and ordinary people’s incredible generosity, the NPO surpassed their fundraising goal of R10 000 by more than 10 times.  Where Rainbows Meet managed to raise over R100 000 allowing the organisation to provide not only food, clothes, and medicine to over 2 000 children, but also toys, hygiene and education materials. To top it off the organistation decided to use the additional money to host a safe and fun community event for Vrygrond residents to enjoy.

This year the NPO again exceeded its fundraising target of R15 000, to find out more about this innovative campaign click here:
Keeping in line with Christmas gift giving, local company Tidy & Co also offers an innovative approach to the path to purchase. Their online store allows you to enter demographics of who you are buying for (mom & baby, child or tween, teen, young adult, etc), how they identify, how close you are to them and how they are best described. From these results the site gives you it’s top suggestions for that person. What’s more, the results include food and beverage ideas, trips and adventures rather than strictly material gifts. Visit the site here,

Christmas campaigns often give advertising agencies headaches because all their competitors are also targeting this time of year to launch large, hard-hitting campaigns. The best ones find ways of running innovative and integrated campaigns that get noticed, no matter how loud the competing voices are.