The launch lowdown: which brands enjoyed the best pre-Christmas product launches?

The Tesla Roadster was recently unveiled by Elon Musk

The run up to Christmas is a tricky time to launch any product or service. Still, as lists for Santa were being meticulously drafted, some brands found a way to cut through the Black Friday and pre-Christmas clutter. Here Martin Flavin, creative director at Five by Five, runs the rule over the best brand launch campaigns from the last month.

H&M and Erdem launch new collection

This is a retailer’s dream: overnight queues at your door, social media hysteria and a near instant sell-out collection. The latest in a long line of luxury collaborations, H&M’s new range launched with British fashion house Erdem, bringing the catwalk to the high street – at high street prices.

It’s a tried and tested formula for H&M, but what’s really interesting is that the launch campaign didn’t really focus on shifting the collection. Yes, the brand got people talking with its star-studded launch event, glitzy Baz ‘Moulin Rouge’ Luhrmann ad and PR campaign, but that was pretty much it. Still, the collection sold out by day two of its November launch.

So if the purpose of the launch campaign isn’t about driving sales, what is it about?

These partnerships are a clever way of making H&M shine against high street competitors while also appealing to more affluent, slightly older consumers who wouldn’t normally shop there; it also offers the chance for reappraisal among customers who’ve ‘grown out’ of H&M. It’s about brand-building. Attracting a new audience. And it’s worked.

Tesla’s Roadster and/or Semi

It’s hard to surprise with automotive launches nowadays. They’ve all become a little predictable…

‘Hold my beer,’ says Tesla.

The States’ most valuable car-maker was launching a heavy-duty Semi truck, which was already event enough itself. It’s about as cool as a truck can look and, for Tesla, it’s surprisingly competitive at £150,000. It’d been teased online, the launch event actually delayed by two months, Elon Musk citing Model 3’s long-fraught production as an excuse.

But then, as the presentation drew to a close, the Semi unloaded something unexpected: Tesla’s new Roadster, a £152,000 model that’s allegedly the fastest ever car in general production. The brand took a leaf out of Apple’s book with its own version of ‘One More Thing’. It’s so difficult to surprise people these days, but when you nail it like Tesla, that can be incredibly powerful.

The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal

Every year the Poppy Appeal defines November. As we’re gearing up for Christmas, it’s impossible to ignore the work the British Legion does, and the challenges soldiers face on a daily basis across the globe.

Bigger isn’t always necessarily better, but the Legion’s work on 3 November was a display of extravagance on a mass scale. With around 1,500 volunteers and a slew of uniformed personnel and famous faces – including Dame Barbara Windsor and Shane Richie – the Legion hit the streets of London in a bid to raise £1bn.

It’s the biggest one-day street collection of its kind in the UK, and with its introduction of contactless payment as a means of donation, it’s a neat combination of the oldest form of fundraising with technology. So much so, that it actually embraced the old – the public were encouraged to donate out-of-circulation £1 coins.

And with Strictly Come Dancing stars throwing their weight behind the campaign’s launch by taking to the streets themselves and dedicating the show’s opening routine to Remembrance Day and the forces, this year’s Poppy Appeal was an absolute triumph. A reaffirmation of the human spirit, as cheesy as that may sound.

Björk’s new album – complete with cryptocurrency

Iceland’s biggest enigma geared up for the launch of her new album, Utopia, with the usual promotional materials: a single, pre-orders, etc. But being Björk, she partnered the release with AudioCoins. You buy the album and you get AudioCoins, a form of cryptocurrency. Simple.

Streaming is king now, and blockchain is one way of taking the power back. Having a credible artist like Björk throw her weight behind it shows that it’s a legitimate thing, that it actually is currency.

Many cite Radiohead’s 2007 In Rainbowsas a watershed moment in fan/artist transaction, where listeners paid what they wanted for the album; while this did reinforce the mindset that you don’t have to pay for music, it also cut out the middlemen.

Likewise, Utopia’s launch is bigger than just the album, because it reaches beyond Björk’s fanbase. Cryptocurrency's value is measured by widespread use and belief in the system, so everyone stands to be a winner if it succeeds – Bitcoin veterans might not all be Björk nuts, but her involvement saw AudioCoin value skyrocket.

The music business never truly recovered from file-sharing – Metallica don’t look so silly for suing Napster now, do they? – but if more artists and fans buy into blockchain, the business could completely relaunch.

So there you go: a review of the last month’s launch activity that didn’t involve a monster under your bed. And they said it couldn’t be done!

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