Is Emotional Marketing at Christmas Emotional Blackmail?
The run up to Christmas is marked by the annual onslaught of emotional TV advertisements. This year has been no exception with both the John Lewis and Sainsbury’s adverts going viral. People have different views on these adverts, of course. Some say the Sainsbury’s advert misfired. It certainly divided opinion. There’s also an argument the John Lewis advert is as manipulative as any, no matter how cute Monty is. He retailed at £95 by the way and sold out fast. Sainsbury’s chocolate bar tie-in costs £1 with all proceeds going to charity.
On some level all advertising is emotional at least for branded products. It’s what a product makes you feel that counts. People pay more for branded goods, whether it’s baked beans or toys. Whether a business’s adverting should go into overdrive during the festive season depends on the business with B2C businesses more likely to run Christmas campaigns and offers. Adding extra emotion to advertising and marketing is fine if you’re in the business of advertising consumer brands but it has to be appropriate for the product or service. In my view it’s easy to overstep the mark, especially around Christmas when much advertising is aimed at children and teenagers and therefore ultimately parents. That said, if injecting more emotion, makes an advert memorable for the right reasons, and adds the feel good factor it has to be a good thing.
Seasonal advertising campaigns, certainly TV advertising, is out of reach for small businesses but there’s plenty of opportunity to run promotions on social media and these should be part of your planned marketing. Everyone is susceptible to special offers. Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers work well for a range of my clients but you won’t find many B2B service companies announcing offers.
John Lewis’s corporate brand is a well-known – its customers know what it stands for. Its Christmas adverts have become a seasonal landmark. Sainsbury’s advert works because it found a large positive audience although a minority of the press and some social media users questioned its taste. You could argue they didn’t ‘get it’. But it still found its audience. Small businesses can’t afford to create polarising advertising. Cranking up the emotional level has to be handled with care.
Your customers don’t want to feel strong armed at Christmas. It is after all the season of goodwill. An example helps to clarify what I mean. Coca-Cola’s “Holidays are coming” TV commercial – you know the one with the convoy of red trucks, has been a Christmas stalwart for years. In fact, the appearance of the ad on TV pretty much heralded in the start of the festive season the way John Lewis ads do now. Compare that with the new “Give a little happiness” Christmas commercial that’s doing the rounds. Some might suggest the whole “Open Happiness” campaign is over-stating the product’s benefits.
Effective advertising whether for Christmas or otherwise should always be part of an overall plan. Like any marketing it comes down to knowing your customers/ audience. If you don’t know the persona to target you do risk alienating your audience.