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How UK Retail Stores’ Christmas Campaigns Have Shifted Over the Past Decade

Dodgy jumpers. Dry turkey. Repeats on TV. Christmas has always been a season of constants. But what about Yuletide marketing campaigns? Have they changed over the past 10 years at all? To investigate this, Experts at BANC looked at Christmas ads from the top 13 UK retail stores from both 2013 and the past three years, and noted down their themes to see how they compared.

Christmas Adverts From 2013

So, what did we find? The 2013 Christmas adverts tended to depict the buying and receiving of gifts, shopping for Christmas preparations, and the promotion of products (sometimes through celebrity endorsements). There were some outliers though. Waitrose’s effort showed the more charitable side of shoppers, while Sainsbury’s ‘Christmas in a Day’ campaign looked at different families’ experiences on the big day itself, showing the joy and importance of family time together at Christmas.

Christmas Adverts From The Past 3 Years

Turning to adverts from the past three years, there are differences. Consumerism and product promotion still featured, of course. But we saw that brands now used gifts, food and drink in a more meaningful way or as part of a wider, more engaging piece. Recurring themes we noted were family values, happiness/joy, and the eschewing of typical traditions.

Certain campaigns paired with charities, while others focused more on the season’s light-hearted side. Even those with a consumerist bent highlighted quality and cost-saving aspects. Overall, brands seemed keen to emphasise deeper meanings in their ads compared to 10 years ago.

Christmas Campaigns

Co-Op, in particular, was a total anomaly. For the past three years, the brand has chosen to shun the usual Christmas advert to instead highlight issues like reducing food waste, the power of community and working with charities.

Changing Trends in Advertising

So, despite there not being an outright shift in trends and tone over the past 10 years, we can still see that Christmas campaigns have moved away from being purely focused on consumerism. Christmas Campaigns with messaging that focuses on family values, spending time together and deviating from tradition have become more popular.

This is certainly interesting. Despite consumer spending rising in recent years (an effect of social media and influencer ads, perhaps?), it seems that shops and brands are now turning towards appealing to the deeper feelings of consumers rather than more materialistic aspects.

Why might this be? Have we become more aware of ethical and moral issues both at home and abroad in recent times? It can definitely be suggested that, as the protection of minority groups comes to the fore, and discrimination is actively fought against more and more, we’re increasingly compassionate as a society.

Or could the cost of living be the reason we’re seeking satisfaction and enjoyment in other ways beyond material possessions now that we have to be less frivolous in our purchases?