Reader's Round-Up: Christmas on the brain

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

The Drum Network's Reader's Round-Up, gives Drum Network members the opportunity to have their say on the hot topics featured in The Drum's fortnightly magazine.

The latest issue of The Drum explores the emotions behind the ads that signify that time of year again. Christmas ads, the new cultural commonplace, are on the brain as well as predicted trends for 2016. From selfie data, a show-down of Christmas ads, and personalisation, Drum Network members reply to the issues that are on the top marketer’s minds in The Drum.

The creative team, TLC Marketing

TLC Marketing’s creative team reply to the Christmas brief ‘Who Won Christmas?’

"I don't think I've seen Marks and Spencer this year" starts Art Director Helen Connolly, but as it starts to play, "Oh yes. I have…" Followed by a quick "Oh no."

A garish amount of products being shoved in our faces, does very little in telling us any sort of story. It is clearly a failed attempt at making the brand appear younger, is this really what people want from a brand everyone has grown up with? Marks and Spencer is a brand that has been built on quality and luxury so it is quite disappointing that this advert didn’t follow suit. This could have been a Debenhams ad.

In their defence art director Annie Gudeva points out "They haven’t tried to pretend to be something they’re not. They’ve simply reminded us that Christmas is a commercial entity focused around buying more ‘stuff’ and no matter how idyllic we think we want to feel, for most it is about finding the perfect party outfit and toys for the kids." It must be extremely difficult trying to think of something original for what is the most cliché event of the year.

Next up was Adam&EveDDB rendition of the Man on the Moon for John Lewis. The creative team loved the fact it was an ad with a beginning, middle and end with a perfectly casted girl, a great British song and composition. Regardless of the spoofs and jokes this is an advert that has got people talking and John Lewis have made sure it has been fully integrated in store and online.

TLC’s creative team concludes that the Christmas brief is a doubled edged sword. The agencies tasked with it must feel a combination of absolute joy vs. absolute fear. Rob Scott shares how he would tackle it, “For me real humour is in things going wrong because there is such a planted sentiment that at Christmas everything must be brilliant. Sainsbury’s and Currys PC World have nailed it. Christmas is never perfect, and what these two brands have done is inject the human element everyone can relate to.”

Luke Regan, managing partner, Make It Rain

Luke Regan comments on Tom Farrell’s piece in The Drum ‘Mobile in 2016- What’s Around the Corner?’

Tom Farrell states that 'The app ‘model’ is likely to extend outwards…and with it the requirement to manage the user experience…delivering marketing campaigns that are native to these environments.’

This prediction’s fruition will all hinge on 2016 trends in consumer sentiment on the issues of personalisation and privacy. 2016 looks like being the year of the mobile individual in marketing as the privacy pendulum swings toward the utility of personalisation. Barring a complete reversal of trends, gated experiences will continue to thrive and users will congregate around a handful of major players in each vertical.

Are we therefore about to live in a world where you no longer visit websites on mobile and a handful of apps act as your content portal? How retro, for those of us who can remember the on vs. off deck debates, a digital lifetime ago.

You can certainly now see the attraction for the consumer: why visit and trust countless travel websites if one can provide you with the content, inspiration and utility you need, all year round? This is a chastening thought for many marketers and the question will be who gets there first; traditional media, comparison websites or the bravest of brands?

Whomever gets it right is sure to cash in.

Nick Livermore, marketing manager, Digital Visitor

Nick Livermore replies to ‘Selfie Assessment’ in which Selfiecity analyses selfies from across the globe and highlights how we quantify ourselves through the data we produce.

The data within a selfie. It’s certainly not something I’ve considered before. I’m by no means an avid selfie-taker, but each time it has happened there has been no pause for reflection; “what personal data am I sharing with this selfie and is anyone interested?”

Am I in the minority? Probably not. A selfie is harmless, right? A selfie is simply a relatively indulgent, sometimes artistic, representation of myself, right? Apparently not. Clearly, a selfie speaks a thousand words. But does anyone consider it sharing data? No.

The other question, of course, is about the type of data contained within a selfie. One’s face aside, selfie data is relatively impersonal, especially compared to the mass of information shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Naturally, the more we do something, the less we think about doing it. But the rise of the selfie isn’t indicative of society becoming happier sharing data online. The data in a selfie is geographic and demographic in nature. If selfie takers don’t consider it, how can it say anything about the preferences of selfie takers?

Kulvin Kailey, data planner, Hugo & Cat

Kailey, data planner from London based agency, Hugo & Cat comments on the data we are happy to share with the world through selfies.

Selfies are perhaps the most inward portrayal of self on social media – the context of the selfie potentially reveals more about the person than the image itself. Selfies strengthened by brands now create another community layer which pushes brand advocacy a little further. A 'brand selfie' portrays your public, emotional partnership with a brand.

It’s a trend that began as something very personal and has now become an intrinsic part of modern society. The resulting data will help guide brands on how to talk to their audiences by being able to match demographic information with an 'engaged' segment of consumers. So, using this data to target engaged and socially active segments should trigger a wealth of highly-performing campaigns, right?

If we hypothetically split a brand’s consumers into three groups – the selfie takers (highly engaged), the socially active and the less engaged – the characteristics of what makes each group ‘tick’ will vary. Brands can’t afford to apply the needs of one segment to all, so they need to cater for specific requirements. Selfie stats may be able shed light on the highly engaged end of the market, but not the other (which may represent an uncontested corner of the market). Dove’s Selfie-drive as part of their campaign for Real Beauty encouraged people to dismiss unhealthy portrayals of women in media, but may have alienated this ‘other’ segment that still feels under-represented. Arguably, narcissism (in this form) is becoming more and more acceptable, but it’s still not for everybody.

So how do we engage these ‘other’ users? How about turning a self-facing cultural trend outwards? Use selfies as a way to promote another instead of one self. In doing so, you may capture a corner of the market that doesn’t identify with gratuitous self indulgence, and instead grab the attention of a previously unengaged segment.

As a fairly young cultural phenomenon, Selfie data will feed into different areas of marketing and advertising – from the subtle to the more profound. Campaign imagery showing an individual, taken from the right, with a 12-degree head tilt and a mid-level smile may garner more engagement from selfie-takers, but this is not representative of society as whole. For now, anyway.

Craig Brown, account manager, NMP

Craig Brown of NMP, comments on BMW's plan to use more customer engagement metrics. It’s good to see large international brands starting to consider more metrics than just the traditional ones, especially given the longer sales cycle for high ticket items such as cars. However, there will be many retailers surprised to hear this is only the beginning for BMW. Metrics are beyond the traditional clicks and impressions as this gives a higher indication of the quality of traffic being driven to your website. It’s also important to remember, especially for pure play retailers, that even if you have high customer engagement and low bounce rate on your website your ultimate goal is still to drive conversions. As an advertiser you have to truly understand the benefit and value these metrics have for your business and be able to tie them back to performance.

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