Music is as intrinsic to Christmas as mince-pies, turkeys and crap cracker jokes. From carol services to number 1 singles and school nativities to brass-band-buskers, sound never fails to whet our festive appetites year after year.
And in this particular year, where brand sound has dominated the industry headlines, it’s no coincidence that 2019 is shaping up to be ad-land’s most music fuelled Christmas ever.
What has stood out since the deluge began, is the sheer amount of campaigns that have put their soundtrack right at the heart of the creative idea.
We’ve seen dad and daughter drumming duos, carrots reborn as Robbie Williams, household items spitting lyrics and of course, the fighting of feelings by flaming dragons. All of this has happened alongside huge cast choral numbers including Visa’s singing high-streets, Amazon’s singing boxes and Walkers getting Mariah singing the notes she’d never dared sing before.
But has it worked?
Kantar’s study which came out last week saw Aldi’s ‘Christmas Spectacular’ crowned the most powerful of 19 major festive ad-campaigns. And Robbie has indeed entertained you; taking Kevin to dizzying new heights with reports over the weekend that the cuddly-toy merchandise had sold out in hours with resellers already appearing on eBay.
And it’s also no surprise to see the joint campaign from John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners voted as the most enjoyable ad and the campaign that best celebrates the joy of Christmas in the Kantar study too.
Elsewhere, Unruly reported Very.co.uk’s emotional festive version of Rudimental & John Newman’s ‘Feel The Love’ has driven 40% of viewers to have a strong emotional response to the campaign, twice as intense as the UK norm.
At such a competitive time for retailers across the UK and around the world, it’s currently the brands using music and sound to heighten consumer emotions in the run up to Christmas that are standing out in the polls.
Hopefully the public reactions to the Christmas ads this year will give retailers a loud signal that music and sound play a fundamental role in brand identity. Whilst the power of sound is nothing new, brands (and specifically retail brands) have at times been slow to fully embrace it. As audio continues to play a powerful role in 2020 and beyond, it’s time for retailers to put sound right at their core. Not least because, unlike many other businesses, they can capitalise on the physical environments where they connect with their consumers.
Sound’s power to drive purchase intent in-store environments can be significant. A review of the effects of background music in a retail setting, published by Garlin and Owen, demonstrated that a liking of music in store has a positive effect on spending, while a field study of music in service environments by JD Herrington found that shoppers who liked the music they heard spent significantly more time and money in the store. In simple terms, music in harmony with a target demographic increases the number of purchases and dollars spent.
Whatever the polls say, the winners this festive season will be those who can convert the sound of their campaigns into the sound of ringing tills. But the champions will be the brands who manage to find a sound that carries them through the mulled wine, into the New Year and beyond.
Max de Lucia is the co-founder and client director of the specialist sonic branding agency DLMDD.