Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio, Shopper Communication

Breaking the Christmas Script

Are you differentiated enough at Christmas?

Picture the scene…

It’s April and people are gathered in a funky meeting room. “OK, here we go then, this years Christmas ad.   Have we all got a copy of the Christmas ad checklist?”

Point No 1 “Must have snow”. “Err, but it never snows at Christmas”. “Doesn’t matter, we’ve got to have snow falling outside”. Check.

Point No 2 “Must show kids”. “Yes, but only about 30% of households have kids at home”. “Doesn’t matter, Christmas is about kids. Get the kids involved”. Check.

Point No 3 “Must make dreams come true”. “But we sell grocery products don’t we?”. “Not at Christmas we don’t. At Christmas we sell dreams”. Check.

Point No 4 “Must have moving music”. What about something a bit up tempo?” “You’re joking. It’s strings all the way. Get the orchestra booked”. Check.

Apparently, over half of us are moved to tears by Christmas ads. So, that means half of us are too busy reaching for the tissues to see who, or what, the ad is actually for. But, what are the ads competing for – tears or sales?

Last week we talked about ‘Breaking the Script’. Doing things in a different way. This is important all year round, but particularly important at Christmas. Why? Well, firstly because it is a key sales period. But secondly, when most companies do the same things at Christmas it becomes even harder to stand out.

We’ve jokingly described it above for advertising. But, it applies to other activities – for instance, packaging. The main decision is whether it is the sprig of holly, snowflakes or cartoon Santa that goes on pack. Or what type of Christmas pun you can come up with. “Berry Christmas”, “Ho, Ho Honey”, “Christmas Treeselets”. The first two were made up.

It is easy to follow a standard Christmas script. But, following it means that you will often do what everyone else is doing. And if you do what everyone else is doing you won’t stand out.

So, how do you break the Christmas script?

Be Relevant. Do you have a strong and relevant link to Christmas? The character on the cereal box with a Santa hat is tenuous. The Kellogg’s 24 variety pack linking to an advent calendar is much more relevant. If you can find a relevant angle, go for it. If you can’t, don’t try to shoehorn something in. Save your resources for something that is relevant.

Be on Brand. Is the activity something that reinforces what your brand stands for? For instance, if your brand is all about new, different, quirky flavours, then the limited edition seasonal flavour could work really well. If you are all about giving shoppers ideas and solutions, then seasonally relevant solutions could work really well. Marmite Christmas packs with different names like “Rudolph” or “Mrs Claus” and a supporting message of “For being nice” are quirky and being positioned as a stocking filler gift. Do something because it is the right thing to do for your brand. Don’t do it just because you can do it.

Be Differentiated.  Are you doing something only you can do? Or doing it in a way that only you can do? This means not just differentiated versus other brands in your category. But, differentiated versus other brands across the store. Be the signal in the Christmas noise. The Coca Cola Christmas truck and supporting activation in store is a great example of this.

Be Repeatable. Doing one off things is hard work. You create this year’s idea. You execute it. Then around April time you have to come up with something new. What if you had one idea you could repeat? We don’t mean exactly the same activity, but the same core theme. This is effectively what John Lewis has done with their advertising. It is what Starbucks did with their red cups. If you have an idea that can be adapted and repeated, you give yourself a head start – with shoppers and versus competitors.

Christmas is, of course, a traditional time of year. Most of us will follow a traditional Christmas script on 25th December.

But, that doesn’t mean our activities should follow the traditional script.

Fewer tears. More sales?

Feel free to forward.  Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.