Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive Through Ads in 2020

If this year has taught us something, it’s the unpredictability of our customers during a pandemic. With the upcoming Holiday season, coming up with the ideal Christmas ads that increase your sales numbers seems more difficult than ever.

Is COVID-19 going to be the Grinch that steals the Christmas spirit among our customers?

Back in 2019, research conducted by Kantar proved that advertising is the key to getting our clients into the Christmas mood – and a big part of that mood involves hitting the ‘Shop now’ button. This year, companies such as Unruly and Tremor Video are trying to predict which type of advertising might work best during a pandemic.


How Christmas ads are working

In a normal world, marketers should start planning their Christmas strategy about one year in advance. However, this year most advertisements may not be equally effective since the world has a much more depressing view on the Holiday season.

Rapp UK strategist Matt Davis confesses that there is no key rule to success in such uncertain, unprecedented times. However, our best shot is to continue to promote positivity and make sure that people can still get into the festive spirit. Concepts like togetherness, family and peace should still be evoked through ads – just differently.


Can we go big…and stay at home?

The current safety measures such as social distancing definitely make advertising more challenging since we can’t rely on filming family gatherings, for instance, as much. Giants such as Amazon or John Lewis are renowned for taking huge sums out of their budget for blockbusters that increase their Christmas sales.

However, recent data from the Advertising Association shows that this year even the biggest brands might tighten their purse – up to 10.5% less, they say. This research comes at no surprise after the past few months where almost ever marketer became more cautious in their ads investments.

Lynne Deason, head of executive excellence at Kantar, agrees that brands will spend less in 2020, but it doesn’t mean they won’t try to go big:

“A decline in media investment doesn’t have to lead to a decline in impact. The smart money will be on those brands who invest in effective advertising, that works across connection points.”


Addressing the elephant in the room

If we look at the most recent campaigns released by giant companies, they’re basically a mix between distracting clients from the pandemic and directly focusing on the biggest issue right now: COVID-19.

Amazon, for example, is applauded by experts for its brilliant way of addressing the elephant in the room by sending deeply emotional, relatable, ultimately positive vibes. Their most recent campaign entitled ‘The Show Must Go On,’ does exactly that:

On the other hand, brands such as Argos opted for skipping the pandemic topic altogether this Christmas, while Quartermain has never even seen including COVID-19 in their ads as an option. According to these companies, they feel that their role is to help people escape from the current depressing situation by delivering a healthy dose of nostalgia.

This decision is backed up by a study taken between March and May where 30% of respondents said they’d rather watch ‘funny’ ads over ‘sentimental’ ones.

Both tactics are logical and may be effective in increasing sales numbers; however, only time will tell how well they truly work.


For now, we know one thing for sure: Christmas 2020 will be one to remember. As history is written, where are you standing?

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