Festive Inbound Marketing Campaigns That Resonate And Generate Sales
Festive marketing campaigns are one of the key features of the Great British Christmas, with household brands competing to produce engaging adverts to resonate with their customers and generate seasonal sales. Let’s look at a few of our favourite examples from recent years.
1. John Lewis Christmas Adverts
John Lewis is known for its heartfelt and cleverly written Christmas advertising campaigns, releasing a new advert each year that tells a story related to the Christmas season. Many people actively look forward to these campaigns, and they are so well-designed that they frequently stick in the memory for years after their initial release. Without promoting any product in particular, these campaigns often deliver significantly increased online engagement and increased sales for the department store chain.
Lesson: you don’t have to overtly push sales to give your Christmas revenues a lift. Simply embracing a festive aesthetic in your marketing materials, content, and online channels – and telling a story while doing so – can be enough to keep your brand front of mind when customers are making Christmas purchases. Importantly, you don’t have to be strictly traditional and predictable in telling your Christmas story. John Lewis’s 2023 Christmas advert, which tells the humorous story of a giant Venus Flytrap, is about as far removed from the school nativity plays you can get, but somehow still works.
2. Marks & Spencer’s ‘Percy Turns 30’ Campaign 2021/22
To mark the 30th anniversary of its popular Percy Pig sweets in 2022 – an annual staple in the Christmas stockings of all my children – Marks & Spencer launched a festive campaign in 2021 featuring a range of limited-edition products, interactive games, and supporting social media content, leading to increased brand engagement and sales. The Marks & Spencer’s 2021 Christmas advert, voiced by Tom Holland and Dawn French, gave viewers a guided view of a Marks & Spencer’s shop showcasing a wide range of festive food products – and not just the iconic sweets.
Lesson: Percy Pig has grown into a strong and perhaps unlikely brand icon for Marks & Spencer, with the potential to promote the overall brand, and not simply a limited product. For smaller businesses, it’s also worth thinking about particular products or services that you are best known for among customers – this may not be obvious, so it’s worth asking around – and leveraging the brand recognition of this product in your Christmas content to promote your business as a whole.
3. Aldi’s Kevin The Carrot Campaign
Supermarket chain Aldi are a glowing success story of how money can be made by any business during an economic downturn, and their recurring Christmas character, Kevin the Carrot, has become a huge hit among consumers. From TV adverts to social media campaigns and even in-shop merchandise, Kevin has become one of the most effective elements of Aldi’s festive marketing strategy each year since 2016. Check out this year’s festive advert here, which partners Kevin with an expanded cast of festive plant life, including ‘William Conker’.
Lesson: Marketing doesn’t have to be all straight faces and seriousness, even for quite straightforward and no-nonsense brands. There is room in any business model and value proposition for fun and a bit of silliness, especially at Christmas. The important takeaway is to gauge what your audience wants and expects around Christmas and look at creative ways in which you can incorporate this style into your Christmas and festive content.
4. Sainsbury’s Christmas Gravy Song 2020
Christmas 2020 will forever be remembered as the year in which families couldn’t be together. Sainsbury’s Christmas Gravy Song advert from that year was one of the nation's favourite Christmas adverts, as it dispensed with all the frills and expensive production to present a real and down-to-earth expression of a normal family celebrating Christmas in difficult times. It’s a beautiful and very raw concept. Without even mentioning the business by name or any of its product lines, Sainsbury’s managed to showcase the central place of food in our experience of Christmas, and I’m sure it won quite a few customers by doing so. For comparison, Sainsbury’s more traditional 2023 Christmas advert, featuring Rick Astley, can be viewed here.
Lesson: whatever your line of business, people are people, and Christmas is a deeply personal time of year. Don’t be afraid to speak from the heart in your Christmas content, thanking people for their time and business throughout the year, and engaging them in an honest and transparent way.
Adopting The Lessons Of Successful Festive Inbound Marketing Campaigns To Your Business
John Lewis, Aldi, and Marks & Spencer have deep pockets and dedicated teams to plan and execute their festive marketing campaigns – which are big business in their own right. Campaigns such as these are beyond the scope and budget of most SMEs, but nor do smaller businesses need to try to replicate these large national campaigns. What small businesses can do is take the principles that make the campaigns successful and apply them to their own festive inbound marketing strategies.
By embracing the festivities of the Christmas season, being generous in your promotions and offers, and taking the time to engage with your customers on a personal and emotional level through social media, your blog content, and even in your advertising, you can strengthen brand recognition and loyalty throughout the year and generate valuable festive sales for your business.
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