Christmas: British Adland’s Super Bowl

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Last month, I had the chance to interview planning superbrains Toby Harrison and Les Binet of adam&eveDDB.

That’s the agency responsible for Christmas ad hits from this subversive online-only spot for bag brand Mulberry…

To the ongoing series of sentimental, lushly-produced spots for John Lewis: a rare example of an ad that becomes part of the national conversation.

“It feels like Christmas advertising is where it’s hot now,” Binet said. “It’s the area where everyone wants to compete.” To Harrison, “it’s become almost an arms race among advertisers – not necessarily to deliver amazing sales, but to deliver on their own brand ambition to ‘win at Christmas’.”

The John Lewis ads in particular point the way for Christmas creative approaches. Forget focusing on product benefits, it’s all about emotional branding. “It’s not a case of any one of our clients aiming to go out there and making the biggest, most indulgent thing,” Harrison added. “We believe in the power of emotional advertising. The fact that other agencies and brands are trying to up the ante on that is interesting.”

Fair enough. But with Bloomberg reporting this week that airtime for the typical 30-second spot for this year’s Super Bowl is going for $4m apiece, it seems that Monty the Penguin and his friends have a way to go before the UK Christmas ad market becomes an event of comparable size.

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