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Christmas campaigns on a budget

You have a fraction of the budget of the big-name brands but you want to create a Christmas campaign that will reach your customers on a grand scale. What can you do?

Get inspired

We’ve all witnessed the rise of emotive Christmas ads from the likes of John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and M&S that sell through storytelling and by tugging at our heart strings. There was Sainsbury’s 2013 advert ‘Homecoming’, which tells of a soldier who surprises his children by coming home for Christmas. This year Sainsbury’s have animated well-loved children’s book character, Mog the Cat, who nearly ruins Christmas for the Thomas family, but the community gathers together to make it wonderful once again.

Signalling the start of the season, these ads have become something of a pre-Christmas ritual to look forward to and see what advertisers can come up with next. There’s no reason why you couldn’t start a smaller scale campaign that customers will ask for each year and want to share by word of mouth and on social media.

A perfect example is this year’s Ballymena Bear ad, made for just £5000. It promotes the Northern Irish town’s shops in a time of recession using the tale of a lost bear hunting for the owner he was destined for through its streets and malls.

Be memorable

It doesn’t all have to be emotive though, and many of the leading brands are this year moving away from tales of the hero’s journey to ads that will get us excited about the joy of Xmas. This is a far easier route to emulate in small-scale campaigns. You can also create an emotive reaction without being gushy, as people will warm to something that is creative, humorous or tells a story in another unique way.

Aldi’s parody of this year’s tear-jerking John Lewis ‘Man on the Moon’ ad is a brilliantly funny alternative to the norm. It fits in with Aldi’s past adverts (even featuring Jean Jones, the star of their 2011 advert) and is completely on-brand for the budget supermarket. The ad’s certain to have been produced at a fraction of the cost of the John Lewis advert — and also in a fraction of the time.


In order to make your Christmas promotions more memorable and shareable, why not try your hand at recreating one of your favourite Christmas campaigns with your colleagues and sending it out to customers?

Be playful and purposeful

Christmas is a perfect time to show your customers how much you value their business and capitalise on the goodwill factor, as well as showing the personal side to your business. If you don’t want to emulate something already done, simply creating seasonal-themed videos of your team singing Christmas carols would do the trick.

To keep customers interested in the Christmas build up, you can create an online advent calendar with prizes, tips, offers or just silly pictures and videos behind each window. Be careful not to bombard your client base with emails. Promoting it on the 1st December and once or twice after – whenever you have the best deals – will be sufficient. If you’re supporting a charity this year, the Christmas Eve window could be a perfect chance to promote your company’s giving nature.

However you’re looking to reach out, targeted campaigns with tailored content work best, including gathering customer data so you can say ‘we thought you might like…’. Retailers could send Christmas present ideas, gift guides and promotions, with Christmas extended opening hours included. A restaurant could provide menu specials or availability of last-minute Christmas party slots. If you’re a service provider, Christmas is an opportunity for your clients to get to know staff members better by seeing them in their favourite festive jumper – and let them know when you’re closed over Christmas and New Year.

Get them hooked

A competition is a great way to get people involved, particularly on social media. If you’re using Twitter, create a hashtag and put it on all your promotional material before the campaign is launched. You can even lure people in by saying ‘Coming soon…’. The hashtag should make customers want to take part, rather than being too literal or simply intended to get your name out there. For example, #myperfectxmas, where people can tweet with answers to what makes their Christmas special for a chance to win a prize or voucher. Or get them to send in festive pictures with your products. On Facebook, running a festive prize draw can boost your follower count and increase engagement, for only the cost of the prize.

Roll your campaign out across channels by adding Christmas banners to your website and social media which fit in with your seasonal theme. Increasing numbers of people will be shopping and accessing content on the go, so make sure your website and emails are mobile-friendly.

You really don’t need to have a huge budget to make an impact this Christmas. With a bit of imagination and an understanding of how to connect with your customers, you can spread the festive cheer frugally.