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Cost of living crisis sees scaled-back Christmas ads

December, 2022

As Christmas fast approaches, brands are vying for our attention more than ever but with the cost of living crisis a real concern, this year seems a little different. Rachel Knight, Director at Kent-based PR, marketing and public affairs agency Maxim, takes a look at what the season has to offer.    

A lot of companies seem to have scaled back and also made more of their charitable connections – which feels only right. The much-anticipated John Lewis ad is no exception and the reception to a middle-aged man learning to skateboard seems to have been overwhelmingly positive. 

It’s only in the last few seconds that we realise that his efforts have been an attempt to welcome a young girl into their home while the caption reads ‘Over 108,000 children in the UK are in the care system’, alongside a commitment from John Lewis to support the futures of young people from care. It’s a tearjerker and doesn’t feel extravagant – just right for 2022.

In our house, we look forward to seeing the adventures of Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot year after year. We’re a marketeer’s dream and have several large plush carrots sitting around the house, ready to join us at Christmas. This year’s ad is split into two parts – the first centres around the FIFA World Cup and features characters such as Macarooney, Beth Swede and Marrowdona. It was a clever move to mention the unusually timed football tournament but I did see some people complaining it wasn’t festive enough.

Those people were soon appeased when the second half was released – an homage to the ever-popular Home Alone film where Kevin is left alone at Christmas. Again, it’s clever, funny, heart-warming and refers to Aldi’s charitable work. The social team have also been hard at work getting #KevintheCarrott trending – admittedly including some paid-for promotion, not to mention the memes and parodies that are constantly appearing.  

Of course, most of us don’t have a multi-million pound budget to spend on advertising but earned media can be just as, if not more, effective.

A recent brilliant example was a press release from Mars Wrigley stating Bounty bars would be removed from tubs of Celebrations this year after 39% of Brits said they wanted them banished. There was wall-to-wall coverage in news bulletins and online but aside from that, numerous very well-known people were talking about the decision on social media and on TV and radio. 

Piers Morgan tweeted to his eight million followers that it was ‘a diabolical decision as Bounty Bars are the best chocolate in the world’, while Good Morning Britain discussed ‘the national outcry’ that had occurred. 

The story was based on a survey of just 2,000 people and was followed up with an advert showing a sad looking Bounty (or rather a man dressed as a Bounty) watching protests on TV to #BringBackBounty. He’s soon reunited with his friends Malteasers and Snickers around a Christmas table and all is well again. 

It all worked incredibly well, especially as there was never a danger of them being permanently removed in the first place. In fact, the press release clearly states that ‘No Bounty Celebrations tubs’ will be available at just 40 stores between 8 November and 18 December. 

I don’t know why the story captured the public’s imagination but perhaps it had something to do with the level of doom and gloom around at the moment – a bit of light-heartedness can go a long way. 

I take my (Santa) hat off to the team behind the campaign, and will also take this opportunity to remind everyone that the press release is not dead, as is often claimed.

En route to the office (L-R): Rachel Knight, office dog Alice Knight and Kevin the Carrot. 

This article originally appeared in Kent Director.


Rachel Knight - Director

Rachel Knight

Maxim / Director

posted in: marketing, media relations,

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