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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 01-Dec-13


Sunday 01-December-13

Christmas Adverts

It's Christmas and advertisers are going into overdrive as they try to get people to buy their products for Christmas presents. And unsurprising really, as many retailers take a large proportion of their profits in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

So perhaps it would not be unusual to expect some hard selling techniques. Yet, in the UK at least, many retailers take an opposite approach. Rather than say 'buy here, now!' they go for the warm fuzzy feeling, with pictures of smiling people, hugging and having fun, all accompanied by nice, friendly music. These adverts are seldom short and often employ such as animations or multiple celebrities, making them very expensive. Often, they are like little movies all of their own. They are particularly popular with big stores and chains such as Marks and Spencer, and John Lewis. Coca Cola also gets in on the act with illuminated trucks jingling through the world like an urban santa's sleigh. Interestingly, just who they are advertising is not always clear even until the very end.

What is happening here is that the advertisers are tapping into the emotions of Christmas, including happiness and family closeness. They are putting a lot of effort into making you feel good, then (and only then) connecting into the brand. Perhaps also they are creating a reciprocal obligation where you feel so grateful to them for being nice, you want to give something back by shopping with them.

For a collection of UK adverts this season, an easy place to start is in the Metro's Battle of the Christmas Adverts. Note that several are over two minutes long!

Your Comments

  I read your "Wooing Journalists" piece under the 'Analysis' tab, as well as this article.  You mentioned 'reciprocal obligation', which is the mechanism at work for both articles.  I once worked for a national (U.S.) builder that bought most of it's lumber from one corporation.  The account was worth $millions.  Each year, the lumber corp. awarded free trips to Las Vegas where the builder's employees were treated lavishly.  We reciprocated by continuing to buy from that lumber company.  The thought occurred to me that our U.S. politicians are treated the same way by lobbyists.  While the practice is supposed to be illegal, they still find ways to get around the law.  Politicians are no strangers to reciprocal obligation.  They woo the voters and journalists alike, just as they are wooed by the lobbyists.

 -- Eric

Dave replies:
Indeed, Eric. Back scratching is alive and well around the world. While democracy and civilization should minimize it, human nature (including simple greed as well as obligation) fights for it.

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