'Twas the Fight Before Christmas

  • Date 17th December 2015
  • Author Mark Clayton
'Twas the Fight Before Christmas

“So this is Christmas”, to quote John Lennon. Although as far as advertising is concerned, the Christmas period seems to start immediately after Halloween these days and is quickly turning into a brand battle played out on YouTube.

It’s now become a trend for the shopping giants back home in the UK to unleash their blockbuster ad campaigns around the start of November. Splurging millions on mini-movies, it’s developed into a sort of UK Christmas version of the American Super Bowl, with brands all competing for the most loved spot.

The intent is to generate content so watchable that the common folk will actually seek out and watch the ads of their own volition. Not having to rely on that old-fashioned thing known as ‘TV’ and placing your chips on social media seems to be a strategy that’s paying off.


Case in point: John Lewis’ ‘Man on the Moon’ has clocked up over 21 million views on YouTube alone. It’s had plenty of hits on Aussie shores too – and John Lewis is barely even a thing over here. That’s powerful content.

‘Man on the Moon’ is basically a distilled version of The Martian – only this old codger lacks some of the astrophysics and botany skills of Matt Damon’s character, having to rely on a small child for basic comms alone.

But even I, a cold hearted and soulless excuse for a human, have to admit it’s a beautifully shot and heartfelt story. Well done, JL. 


Currently topping ‘Man on the Moon’ with over 23 million views is ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ from Sainsbury’s, proving that people care more about cats than old people stranded in space.

Children’s book character Mog the cat has been brought back to life (spoiler alert: it died in the last book) for a Christmas caper seeing Mog destroy her owner’s house on Christmas Eve. Slap a suitable charity link on the end and you’re done, because otherwise it’s just nasty old advertising, isn’t it.

Although featuring some nicely choreographed slapstick, the kitty itself has the ten-years-ago CGI look of those horrible Garfield movies, making it an almost uncomfortable watch for anyone over the age of two. But with viewing figures like this, who cares?


ALDI, Harrods, Cadbury…everybody’s had their crack at Christmas this year. 

Most disappointing for me, though, was Harvey Nichols with its ‘AVOID #GIFTFACE’ campaign – when someone receives a bad gift. I guess that’s what happens when you set the bar so high in previous years. Harvey Nichols’ 2013 campaign ‘Sorry I spent it on myself’ picked up a raft of advertising awards across the world, so we’ll always be expecting better from them.

On another tangent, one of the oddest campaigns for me this Christmas lead-up would have to go to Curry’s PC World featuring Jeff Goldblum. I’m guessing Jeff is either the brand manager’s cousin or he’s still waiting on that juicy Independence Day 2 pay cheque to come through. Either way, the ads have had a relatively high amount of views – and made me chuckle too.

So as the Christmas ad hype dies down for another year and the shopping begins, what will you be popping in your basket? How many views translate into sales anyway? Creating and building brand connections through big brand ads still have their place. But true effectiveness comes after you gain attention. So how will these big brands follow up their investment with a continued strategy all the way to the cash register? We’re looking forward to when the trees and decorations come down in January, to see which brand has truly won the battle of Christmas.


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