With restrictions on mixing households and social distancing, the world is now a very different place since marketers planned their last Christmas campaigns. However this year’s festive period remains a vital communications period for brand building, perhaps more so than ever before, and for many companies the most crucial sales period of the year. We ask three marketing experts for their advice on Christmas campaigns during a pandemic.
Good campaigns capture social developments and implement them creatively and emotionally in their advertising, says Oliver Dietrich, Global Marketing Director at fashion brand Tom Tailor.
2020 is a unique year - an unexpectedly unique year. Nothing that happened this year was imaginable previously for most of us. Suddenly everything was different, the world, the future, our plans, the reality. And now Christmas is just around the corner, and this holiday will also be different in 2020, probably lonelier, more troubled and more uncertain for most of us.
Christmas has always been a holiday for the economy, and it is not without reason that we speak of Christmas trading. For many brands and companies November and December are the relevant months of the year. This is where the big campaigns start, where investments are made in media across all channels. So far this year in many commercials and campaigns we have seen Christmas being celebrated as if nothing has changed - grandpa with grandchild on his lap, the extended family sitting around a table, even singing Christmas carols together across generations, in reality a superspreader event, not challenged but used as an emotional element. These are just a few examples.
But it can be done differently - and it should be. The strength of good campaigns is to capture social developments and implement them creatively and emotionally in the spirit of the brand, media-neutral and channel-specific. This has never been more appropriate and necessary than this Christmas. No, campaigns are not documentaries, but they should not completely ignore the social context and leave out exactly what people are currently concerned about. This is where brands have the chance to rediscover their true sense and show affinity - not uniformly, but individually. By understanding and showing people and their needs and sensitivities. Christmas will be different than ever before, so it is only logical that campaigns should be too.
Because reacting quickly to changes is what marks out the good campaigns from successful brands. Let’s see who makes use of this opportunity.
Leo Gammler, Creative Director Commercial Production at Seven.One AdFactory, says that while this year provides fertile ground for a moving Christmas story, approach Corona with care in your advertising.
Corona has changed lives across the world and has turned our usual habits on their heads. 2020 has challenged all of us emotionally, so much so that a touching story at Christmas time will probably fall on fertile ground like never before. For the creation of a Christmas commercial, the effects of the pandemic naturally offer plenty of stories that can touch us emotionally. I think it makes sense to address the effects of social distancing. There are so many beautiful, sad, funny, touching stories here. Nevertheless, it can also make sense to make a Christmas commercial without any corona reference. Many people can no longer hear the word "Corona" and are looking to escape this topic completely.
But I would strongly advise against using a Christmas campaign to warn or educate about the need for social distancing. What was nice at the beginning of the pandemic is now annoying, because we all know how we should behave, even if it is difficult. You see so many signs outside shops saying: "You are by far our best customers". That used to be original, now you can't see it anymore. And even a simple "stay healthy" now has a subliminally aggressive effect - especially since the power to stay healthy isn’t necessarily within someone’s control.
What I definitely don't want to produce anymore are celebrities filming themselves with their mobile phones demonstrating their humanity. That was a great idea at the beginning of the pandemic, but now we need something new.
Tell your customers how you can support them to make Christmas something special this year, recommends Christopher Menke, Head of Marketing at drinks delivery company flaschenpost.
In terms of content, we want to show the customer that we support them in the best possible way to ensure that their Christmas remains a positive and emotional event despite all circumstances. We offer different thematic focuses - be it the delivery of Christmas trees or suitable boxes to build your own DIY Christmas market for your home. For us as a logistics company it is also important to continue to focus on a general service USP during the Christmas season.
The touchpoints have largely migrated into people's homes and online. We are therefore focusing more and more on online and in-home channels. Interactive content is also gaining in importance. Especially in recent weeks we have also seen a strong increase in interaction rates in the social & CRM area.
In general, advertising should be appropriate to the times and continue to address health and social distancing issues. However, this should not be the focus of communication. If, for example, one of our drivers is photographed for an ad, he will of course wear a mask and gloves, as this reflects the current reality and should be the norm in everyone's everyday life. In terms of content, however, an ad like this will have a seasonal or action-related focus. Neither the brand nor our customers need a direct advertising message which, at its most extreme, refers to current political regulations.