Are we witnessing the death of the Christmas TV ad?

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Is it RIP to the Christmas TV ad?

It starts with a little controversy.News filtered out online that Iceland, the frozen-food supermarkets, Christmas advert had been ‘banned’ from TV. The ad wasn’t banned from UK TV but, was instead, not allowed to be aired as Greenpeace, the environment campaign group, originally produced it.

There are strict rules around broadcasting anything that potentially has a political nature. The ad simply didn’t meet well-known broadcasting rules and therefore couldn’t be aired.

However, this hasn’t stopped a wave of online out-cry and conversation discussing the ads banning from UK screens. This has helped drive huge buzz for the ad which has then been picked-up by mainstream media, including the Guardian, BBC and Daily Mail.

A good story well told

However, this controversy wouldn’t benefit the brand if the ad itself wasn’t a good story well told. Thankfully the tale of the cute orangutan who has lost his home is a touching, well-paced ad that tactfully deals with the issue of deforestation and the destruction of the rainforest.

The ad ends with the sombre fact that we lose 25 orangutan’s every day. This is a shocking statistic and Iceland have committed to removing palm oil from all of it’s own-label products.

In the age of purpose-driven marketing, this is a smart move from a retailer with just 2.1% share of the UK Grocery market. The move will appeal to a customer base that in the past has not considered Iceland, despite the fact that the issues around palm oil production are complex, and reports suggesting than less than half of that caused by soybeans (a favourite of vegans) and just one tenth of the effect caused by livestock and beef production.

The power of social sharing

The video so far has had over 4.4 million views on the official Iceland YouTube account and 15 million views on Facebook. Numerous media outlets and celebrities have shared the video on Twitter, which has now garnering over 17 million views.

The announcement post on the official Iceland Facebook page has been shared over 660K times to date, whilst the announcement tweet has had more than 195K engagements on Twitter. This tidal wave of social sharing and online conversation has led to over 670K people signing a petition to get Iceland's Christmas advert shown on TV.

Does it need to? With all those online views the ad has surely had more eyeballs than Iceland could have hoped for with a Christmas TV ad buy. Added to this, the mainstream press coverage from the ad’s supposed TV ban and the brand couldn’t have hoped for more.

The question now must be should others follow suit? Do you need to spend big on a Christmas TV ad buy when the power of social sharing can shape public opinion and gain mainstream media attention at a fraction of the cost? Does this mean the start of the end for the big Christmas ad buy?

As we say, smart brands join a conversation; smarter brands curate a conversation their fans actively join.

Tom Jarvis, founder, Wilderness

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