Christmas TV Advertising – taking the right approach.

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Advertising on TV at Christmas

Christmas TV Advertising

Many companies undertake TV Advertising at Christmas, but how can this be done response and cost-effectively and when is the right time to start planning?

TV Advertising is the most powerful and influential advertising mediums.  There is no question that internet search based advertising delivers outstanding conversions and unparalleled metrics.  However, internet advertising is still a long way short of creating the initial inspiration needed to inform people that your product exists which leads to that search.  TV creates the initial desire, the internet brings the consumer seamlessly to your shop or product.

Christmas is the busiest retail period of the year for most businesses.  In some cases, businesses depend on a substantial increase in sales as part of their annual strategy and cash-flow forecast.  Whilst the economy continues to satisfy only the sceptics and doom makers, it is more important than ever to push your business in the face of the buyers.

So, to improve the chances of a positive season, TV advertising can be used in conjunction with other media to create desire and guide it to a sale.  TV Advertising should form part of a consistent marketing communication.  It’s about creating a marketing ‘flow’ – so overall strategy is important.

For business marketers and entrepreneurs looking to create a strong cross media campaign, we recommend you look create an overall strategy that identifies budgets and helps schedule activity for the most effective result.  A great read is “The Savvy Entrepreneur’s Toolbox” by Del Thomas available from Amazon.  it’s a Kindle ebook that helps marketers create a targeted strategy to identify and schedule the mediums that deliver responses and inspire your prospective consumers.  With a hands on “How-To” approach, it’s perfect for those experienced and in-experienced with some of the available tools.

In essence, a complete strategy should select the appropriate mediums, determine the communication style and define how the brand and message should be presented.

You should establish the type of TV Ad that you need when planning your overall communication.  The options available for a Christmas TV Campaign are broadly as follows:

  • Branding – “Feel Good” seasonal awareness communication.
  • Gift Inspiration – creating desire for a specific gift.
  • Time limited offer – asserting a brand as the point of purchase for a ready-established product.  Often based on pricing and tied to Christmas and new year dates.

Traditional TV advertising campaigns have more options, but when it comes to TV advertising intentionally placed at Christmas, your ad should fit into one of the categories above.

How to make the right Christmas TV Advert…

  1. Production Values vs. Budget. It’s important to consider production values.  There is little point in creating a branding ad if the budget will not afford a production capable of delivering the right emotions.  Likewise, when the goal is to generate specific income and where you will be comparing spend to directly attributed sales, the ad created for an offer should be afforded within a specific marketing spend.
  2. Keep your message simple and obvious.  Whilst it’s tempting to pack as many offers and details in to your ad, remember that people switch off when being bombarded and that they have the internet.  If they like the principles of your offer, they will investigate it further.  Once you’ve made the point, it’s about getting them to your web site or in to a retail store where any other information can be provided, if required, before a sale is concluded.
  3. Less is more.  Don’t exhaust your audience with a long ad if a short 30 second ad will do.  Even better, consider a mix of 10 second slots and 30 second slots.  This will establish your message and remind your audience more frequently with the same media budget.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be Christmas-sy.  England is a multi-faith society.  Residents of the UK recognise Christmas in multiple ways.  Some see it as a religious time, some as a  consumerist experience, some as time off work, whilst some do not recognise it in their lives at all.  You can mention Christmas without needing to directly appeal to, or risk offending anyone, regardless of how they view Christmas.  In fact, you are far more likely to offend someone by referring to Christmas as “The Holiday Season”.  We recommend that Christmas TV Adverts do contain a “Christmas spirit” in their presentation to take advantage of the positive engagement that occurs.  If your organisation is concerned with associated political statements, refer to Christmas instead of owning it.  Eg. use “This Christmas, why not try xyz…” or “…a brilliant gift this Christmas” instead of “…a brilliant Christmas gift”.  On similar terms, it is also perfectly reasonable to refer to other religious festivals and notable dates if it is relevant to your promotion, noting an appropriate degree of sensitivity if required.
  5. Ensure promotion deadlines are clearly communicated.  Offers work when they appear as a special event.  Open-ended offers do little to inspire action – so people that would otherwise engage choose to bide their time.  Give people a reason to engage now and reap the rewards both in terms of sales and in terms of accountable media buying.
  6. Allow plenty of time to plan, clear, produce and broadcast.  None of us want to be singing Christmas carols all year round, but it is essential that your ad is ready in time and in order to buy the right TV Advertising space.  We often start talking to companies about their Christmas TV promotions around May / June time, although most really get under-way in August.  Although deals are not finalised, we engage at an early stage and take our time to get it right.
  7. If your Christmas advertising activity is last-minute, move quickly and be decisive.  As a full service TV Advertising company, we are not strangers to last-minute campaigns.  They are possible, but should start broadcasting in November to ensure good time to inform and persuade the bulk of the buying public.  Typically, heavy Christmas promotion ends by close of the second week of December, with most TV Advertising space afterwards being ‘low cost’ or ‘included’ or intended for the January Sale.  Assist us in the production and booking of your campaign by being decisive about options.  We can guide you through the process, but aspects of production such as Clearcast will require quick resolve if you are to achieve broadcast when desired.
  8. Avoid blurring the boundaries between Christmas retail and January Sales; if you need to cover both aspects, produce two TV adverts and commence the latter on or after Christmas Eve on the 24th December.  If you blur those messages, you are blurring ‘premium’ with ‘discount’ and consequently de-value your offering.  Worse, you are likely to simply encourage consumers to wait until you drop the price!
  9. Check that you have the stock!  Unless you intend to create value by having limited or restricted stock, always ensure you have sufficient stock to meet demand.  With the explosion of social media, you risk causing brand damage if stocks are not available to consumers in time.  Also be aware that you may struggle to sell a ‘late shipment’ of stock after a Christmas disappointment.  If you do ‘intend’ to run with restricted stock, ensure it is part of a very carefully planned strategy that keeps you legal by Trading Standards and ASA terms and in a way that does not damage reputation.
  10. Want to try Christmas TV Advertising next year? Speak to us now!  Whilst you may not be starting to plan next year’s activity yet, there is nothing wrong with picking up the phone for a friendly, no-obligation chat.  We can help you identify key dates when things need to start happening and even identify any issues which could possibly arise during the Clearcast broadcast approval process.
Finally, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year!
Paul Emerton.