When Is Too Early To Start Your Christmas Marketing

November 8, 2017

Is it just us that thinks that Christmas ads get earlier and earlier every year? It’s only the 8th of November and already the Christmas ads from M&S, Argos, and Asda, (just to name a few) have already dropped!

The M&S ad launched yesterday and features Paddington Bear, a clear nod to their target audience of young families. The ad links to 90 products and has a charity tie-in, echoing John Lewis’ tactic. Speaking of John Lewis, its eagerly awaited Christmas ad, is rumoured to be released either tomorrow (9th November) or Friday (10th November). Watch this space!

Argos was hot off the mark by showing its Christmas ad on Friday 3rd November during prime-time breaks on ITV (during Emmerdale) and Channel 4. Last year Argos' Christmas ads aired on the 4th of November during prime-time Channel 4 show Gogglebox, meaning the catalogue and digital retailer’s Christmas ads are getting earlier year on year.

Asda wasn’t far behind, showing its 60-second advert during an ad break on ITV’s The X Factor on Saturday 4th November.

By showing their ads during advert breaks of prime-time shows, Argos and Asda have ensured a large audience, but is it an audience who are genuinely interested in Christmas ads, this early November?

This isn’t the first year that Christmas ads are appearing what seems like far too early. Last year Harrods kicked off its festive TV campaign on the 1st of November, appearing before the infamous Coca-Cola truck advert.

Even earlier to the game was Morrisons. Its Christmas ad was shown on the 6th of November in 2015, which was five days earlier than its 2014 ad aired, on the 11th of November.


But, what do consumers think?

Andy Atkinson, interim marketing director at Morrisons, told Marketing Week in 2015: “Everyone is getting earlier and earlier. Last year we were one of the last ones and I felt that was inappropriate. We reflected on this throughout the year and wanted to make sure we are in line with everyone else to ensure our customers get the chance to see our advert at the right time.”

He added that while retailers respond to the demand from consumers who start to think about Christmas once Halloween and Bonfire Night are over. Marc Bolland, CEO at Marks & Spencer’s, said in the article that retailers are merely following consumers.

And, according to this article from 2014, apparently, most people don’t mind early Christmas ads. It seems that a year is just enough time to forget exactly when Christmas ads begin to appear.

In October 2014, John Lewis said ‘Christmas’ was the most popular search item on its website since the 3rd of September and a tab was already dedicated to the season on its site. Marks and Spencer’s said in 2015 that the most searched term on its website was ‘Christmas’ in the first week of September.

Data from the retail research agency Shoppercentric revealed that a third of those asked started their Christmas shopping in September. In 2015 Asda said it launched its Christmas advert at the start of November, as insights showed that around one in five people had completed their Christmas shopping by that time the previous year.


Is November too early?

We think that March is definitely too early to start advertising Christmas, but that didn’t stop Walsall Football Club displaying a huge billboard in the M6 advertising festive parties at its WFC The Venue. The ad appeared a whole 269 days before Christmas, meaning it was much closer to Christmas 2016 than Christmas 2017 for which it was intended!

In summer this year Boots brought out its summer ad as part of its #ItFeelsLikeSummer campaign. Despite it being hot out (well on some days, this is Britain after all), the ad featured a reworked version of Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday with lyrics modified for the summer season. Many people took to Twitter to complain.

In July 2016, the soft drink brand Oasis displayed some rather tongue in cheek adverts celebrating Christmas, crowning it the first Christmas advert of 2016.

Although it seemed far too early, it generated a lot of social media attention, with the advert shared on Snapchat and Twitter, and articles were written about the ad.


Our final thoughts

Although we do think that March and the summer are far too early to launch an advert related to Christmas, maybe November isn’t all that early, considering all the big brands are bringing out their adverts at this time. I mean, surely we’ve all thought about Christmas a little bit by the time November comes around!

In order to keep up with their competitors, brands should take note of when the ads are appearing, and act accordingly. In April this year, M&S revealed it begins planning for its Christmas ad 14 or 15 months ahead of time. Meaning that right now M&S are already planning their Christmas ad for 2018. Crazy!

However, Christmas isn’t just about a big flashy advert, why not use the season to interact with your customers as Caffè Nero has done. It has partnered with mobile payment and loyalty marketing platform Yoyo and aims to “surprise and delight” customers with digital Christmas Crackers. So over the festive period, every time a customer buys their usual hot drink, customers can shake or pull the cracker on the Caffè Nero app to discover what they’ve won. Prizes include gift cards, unlimited free coffee, and even a trip to Milan! The data collected from the app, will then be used by the coffee chain on follow-up marketing campaigns. How clever!


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