Posted 18th November 2014 | By ExtraMile

The Coca-Cola van appearing on our screens used to be the TV advert that signaled the beginning of Christmas. Now all the big players are spending big bucks on a Christmas campaign that will get everybody talking.

But which retailers have come out on top in 2014? And what was the secret to their success? We'll give you a clue – it's down to a little something called Digital Marketing.

Traditionally the television has always been centre-stage for retailers to show-case their Christmas advertising. Now, mobile devices provide retailers with a platform to launch their campaigns, connect with their audience wherever they are and of course provide those important quick links to buy products.

Like any time of the year, the population will be clutching their mobile devices 24/7. And the top retailers have made sure that they're targeting the increasingly digital population, by getting creative with social media. In 2014's Best Christmas Ad poll by City Numbers, it's Marks & Spencer's & John Lewis that top the list. Let's take a closer look at what makes these digital-friendly campaigns so successful.


John Lewis – Monty the Penguin

Watch the John Lewis advert here



The hashtag - #MontythePenguin – took over our Twitter feeds way before the advert was even released, combined with teaser trailers and posters of Monty in the London Underground. John Lewis built up the advert like it was the release of the latest big film – to get people talking on social networks and sharing the advert . And it wasn't a disappointment: like every year, the John Lewis ad pulls on our heart strings. This time we watch Monty the Penguin's quest to find companionship at Christmas.

We can also learn some content marketing tips from John Lewis' ad. Content that generates an emotional response will get everyone talking about it. Of course, more positive stories are likely to be shared, but even those that responded negatively to John Lewis' offering contributed to it going viral.

The YouTube video has had nearly 16 million views at the time of writing. The fact that it overtook last year's Bear & Hare advert in 24 hours shows just how much social media has progressed in only a year – quite incredible.


Marks & Spencer – Follow the Fairies

Watch the M&S adverts here



The other anonymous hash tag that infiltrated our feeds was Mark's and Spencer's #followthefairies. The hashtag was related to the @thetwofairies Twitter account, which generated more than 130,000 followers before the advert was even even released!

With over 3 million views, the YouTube video is nowhere near as watched online as the John Lewis advert. However, M&S stand apart in the fact that they are making the effort to reply to the comments on the video – a nice touch of personalisation that might just convert a large proportion of viewers. Although not as emotional as Monty's story, the M&S Christmas fairies encapsulate the Christmas spirit of giving very nicely, as they spread joy around the UK with random acts of kindness to Twitter followers.

They've been generating plenty of chit-chat on social media with unbranded events. The M&S fairies made it snow outside a primary school and also created fairies made of lights above Newcastle's Tyne Bridge. It's worlds apart from last year's M&S advert featuring celebrities David Gandy and Rosie Huntington-Whitley, which lacked meaning and digital strategy. This year M&S make their customers feel special by treating them or making them smile. What better way to encourage brand loyalty.


Whichever advert is your favourite, digital wins this Christmas

Big brands are putting more and more of their marketing budget into digital, specifically social media. It's a reflection of the shift in consumer behaviour, as well as recognition that user-generated content is a brilliant way to engage a wider audience.

If you do make it to the shops this year, you'll see that retailers have supported their online strategies with relevant in-store activity: a vital thing to marry offline and online marketing strategies. Although you'll be disappointed to hear that the Monty toy is out of stock already!

Which is your favourite Christmas TV advert this year? Tweet us @extramilecomms.


Written by Annabel Ross, SEO Specialist at ExtraMile Communications.

At ExtraMile we try to take an hour out each week to look around us at what others do and to gain inspiration and to admire people's creativity. Each post in this series is one staff member's take on the world of web, design and things online. We hope you enjoy it.



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A digital marketing agency with international capabilities