October budget an early Christmas gift for advertisers
It’s early November, but Christmas has come to our television advertising breaks – and what a luscious, luxurious, austerity-free vision it is.
There’s a theory that it’s Michael Noonan’s doing. Not that the Minister for Finance is personally responsible for the explosion of red jumpers, fake familial cheer and turkeys the size of toddlers that popped up on our screens this week but, traditionally, the airwaves at this time of the year would be dominated by gloomy speculation around the upcoming budget.
It would have seemed nearly indecent to go all out with a cheery Christmas spend, spend, spend message when viewers were poleaxed with worry as to how the inevitable cuts would hit their wallets. Moving the budget from December to October has given advertising a free rein to get their message out early.
“There’s always a great deal of discussion on when to start the Christmas campaign” said Fenella Fay, head of marketing communications at Meteor whose “Get Christmassed” campaign kicked off early this week, first out the traps among the big spending telecos. In a change in strategy, the campaign has moved away from the traditional proposition of pushing the latest mobile phone as a gift to a promotion where €1 million of cash and credit will be given away before the end of the December.
The offer, backed by a humorous festive television campaign devised by Rothco, is open to existing customers and users of other networks. The 40-second advertisement will be shown on TV and in cinemas – the latter being good hunting ground for the target audience.
“As well as smaller prizes, there’s the chance to win €25,000 every week so we’re offering people something for free which is why we felt able to go early.” The sell comes later this month with a more traditional handset campaign.
The real big spenders in the run-up to Christmas are the retailers and such is the number of blockbuster campaigns this year, a round-up would fill the page.
There are some stand-outs though and for differing reasons. In a piece of mistiming, Marks & Spencer launched probably the most lavish advertisement of the season last week in a Coronation Street break, on the same day the company announced its ninth consecutive quarter of falling clothing sales. Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and David Gandy, it’s pure fantasy, with cinematic production values to match the calibre of the cast.
It touches on several fairytales from Alice in Wonderland to The Wizard of Oz and begins with Huntington-Whitely walking down an empty street and falling down a manhole into a magical wonderland. Best not to dwell on how nightmarish that would be if it actually happened – especially as she loses her clothes as she’s falling. It’s all about magical atmosphere, not product, in the two-minute advertisement and the fabulously gorgeous Huntington-Whiteley is seen twice in her underwear which, although it’s quite snowy, are not the sensible cotton pants that for generations Marks & Spencer built its retailing success on.