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A variety of approaches have been taken towards Christmas advertising. Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and others have plumped for mini-films, while Tesco and Asda have chosen to create short pieces of content focusing on specific moments in the preparations. But they all contain an injection of emotion to generate that warm festive glow in viewers.

Tactical advertising is important to highlight offers but Christmas is a time when customers expect (dare we say look forward to) more sentiment. This is an opportunity for value to triumph over price, and with the knowledge that emotive advertising underpins brand-building and is a long-term investment.

Recent research based on the IPA’s database of advertising effectiveness studies underlines the value of building brand equity to strengthen loyalty. Businesses that have an emotional connection with their customers are better positioned to ride out a downturn. Report authors Les Binet and Peter Field highlight that video is uniquely suited to drive emotional advertising: “Online video increases the effectiveness of advertising, offering broad reach and allowing deep involvement with brand.” The ability for video to directly link to purchase activation so viewers can act in those moments that matter is seen as a particular strength.

A great example comes from Tesco with its TrueView shoppable ads campaign for its toys. The Tesco Toy Testers campaigns feature kids putting the retailer’s toys through their paces and give parents the opportunity to click through to purchase. The technology gives Tesco the flexibility to run multiple versions of its ads to promote different toys. TV and video together deliver more bang for a marketer’s buck thanks to their combined reach. The partnership is especially potent when you realise that fans of festive ads turn to online video for first peeks and repeat viewing of Christmas campaigns. Many brands debut their campaigns or offer teasers online first or simultaneously with TV. Online also allows amplification and extension of campaigns with parodies and tributes, such as the heart-warming John Lewis Christmas pastiche made by a student.

One last thought - it’s important to remember that a campaign is not just for Christmas. Brands need a strong relationship with consumers year-round. Lay the groundwork now but make sure the media plan contains a brand-building element active across the year.

Tesco’s fictional family that debuted last Christmas appeared in its video campaigns through 2016. This aims to create a bigger emotional bond with characters whom they are used to seeing all year round.

Martijn Bertisen is UK sales director at Google

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