Ho Ho Ho – Christmas goes Digital

26 Nov

This Christmas is seeing digital marketing come of age. That is not to say that the big retailers are not using the traditional tools for communicating their messages, after all Christmas revolves around tradition, but digital is now mainstream too.

Marks and Spenser is a tradition, an institution, part of the British culture, more than a store. When they decided to launch their Christmas campaign where did they start? Outdoor, TV, Radio, Press? No. They launched their fairy tale ad through social media channels to be viewed on laptops, tablets and mobiles. They pushed out teasers through Instagram and the ad was shown on Facebook and YouTube (over 800,000 views on YT to date, nearly 1.5 million likes on FB) while they also updated their mobile app, all before putting the ad on television (See the ad here http://youtu.be/O7Xw1IL3oh0). Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, the retailer’s executive director of marketing and business development told Marketing Week:

“Brands are all about interaction and conversation and the role of digital at large is to create conversations. Social media gives us a voice to our consumers, letting us engage with them through the journey.”

They are not alone. John Lewis (http://youtu.be/XqWig2WARb0) has got over 7 million, yes 7,000,000 views on YouTube. All those people have chosen to watch an ad. Think about how much more valuable those views are than the TV audience.  Next, Argos and many others are now using content marketing as a core part of their activity, pushing more information out to inform and persuade people to shop with them.

Using technology, brands are encouraging sharing on social sites, thereby getting their customers to do some marketing for them. The M&S customer is often an advocate as well, and has an emotional brand attachment that makes them want to share with their friends.

The social channels make the investment in the production of the ads much more justifiable. Spending a few million on making the films can be set against the number of people that see it on television but also through the social channels. A share has huge value as it is a third party endorsement, friends saying “Hey – Look at this – I really like it!”

As shopping itself diversifies, the marketing is chasing hard to keep up with the customer, being where they are, not where they used to be. If I have one quibble it is the ads themselves. They are derivative, with echoes of Harry Potter, Disney and others running through them. The media channels are advancing, but the creative needs to rise to the challenge too.

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