creative christmas campaigns

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Putting a different spin on the usual holiday marketing

Christmas is coming. You might have noticed the tinny jingle of Christmas tunes already, or a sparklier-than-usual shop window display.

Image: Christmas Jumper Day

Image: Christmas Jumper Day

It’s around this time of year that charities also tend to amp up their marketing, releasing campaigns that tug at the heartstrings a little more at this most wonderful time of year.

We’re all so distracted by different screens and buzzing notifications that the traditional charity tactic of guilt-tripping has become much easier to ‘switch off’ from. The most effective campaigns are clever and creative, cutting through the Christmas noise by using interesting ways to grab viewer’s interest, ultimately driving awareness and donations.

Our attention has been grabbed this week by this advert for the supermarket Iceland.

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The animated short film, originally produced by environmental charity Greenpeace, shows a young girl who has an orang-utan causing havoc in her bedroom. She asks why it’s there, and finds out the shocking truth about the devastation of its rainforest habitat, all in the name of palm oil. The ad closes with the promise that Iceland are removing palm oil from all their own label products. However, the advert has been banned on TV for taking a stance that is deemed too political.  

It’s a stark contrast to the saccharine output of most retailers at Christmas - imagine a world where the John Lewis Christmas advert hype machine lent its weight to a hefty global issue.

But there are plenty of imaginative charitable campaigns that play on our festive feelings. This simple digital advent calendar from Action for Happiness reminds us that giving is in the true Christmas spirit, and rather than a personal treat, reveals one daily act of kindness on social media.

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Another campaign bringing a colourful burst of fun to the Christmas run up is Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day. A remarkably easy way to get entire offices and workplaces raising money by wearing their festive jumper on December 14th and donating a few pounds, the campaign is now in its fifth successive year and shows no signs of slowing down. Featuring promotions and ads full of energy and humour, it shows that Christmas fundraising can be fun and exciting, while raising money for a great cause.

Taking that dressing-up-for-charity concept further, the NSPCC have launched Get Your Sparkle On! This campaign isn’t set to a certain date, instead allowing people to pick their own time and place to get as glittery as they like with a donation of £3. It’s a clever way of tapping in to the Christmas party glamour that young professionals may be seeking anyway at this time of year.

Other organisations have come up with innovative, eye catching Christmas campaigns that totally spin expectations on their heads. Advertising agency BBD Perfect Storm partnered with Evelina London Children’s Hospital to create a great physical and digital talking point. They built DeFrosty - a real snowman - in a freezer compartment in a London window and challenged the general public to keep him frozen using the hashtag #KeepDeFrostyAlive. They donated 10p and an extra 10 minutes of power for every Tweet, along with live streaming his condition and how much power was left.  

The Dogs Trust completely changed gear on their famous tagline ‘A dog is for life… not just for Christmas’ when they released this shareable video that mirrored the style of memes and clickbait, titled ‘These Break Up Reasons Are So Awkward!’ The video featured real reasons people had given for no longer wanting a dog, from being too hairy to not looking right in selfies. Deftly blending humour and a serious message, it was a fresh take on the organisation’s 30 year tagline.

Again, trying to keep viewers attention is never easy, so Christian Aid decided to combine pop culture references with a hard-hitting message in this imaginative retelling of the Nativity, titled ‘A Stranger Christmas’. The stop-motion short film featured animated characters from Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things, capturing attention before highlighting that 65 million people across the world are displaced by conflict and disaster.

There are so many amazing causes that need help around Christmas time, but a truly great marketing campaign is bold enough to strike a different tone - to make sure it stands out as truly memorable long after the tinsel has been packed away for another year.