Christmas isn't just the busiest sales period for the UK's retailers, it's also the time when they unveil their biggest, brightest and most expensive-to-make ads. And, according to Toby Harrison and Les Binet of adam&eveDDB, the festive period has become British adland's equivalent of the Super Bowl in the US. "It feels like Christmas advertising is where it's hot now," Binet said. "It's the area where everyone wants to compete." To Harrison, "it's become almost an arms race among advertisers – not necessarily to deliver amazing sales, but to deliver on their own brand ambition to 'win at Christmas'."
And they should know. The agency has made many of the past few years' most memorable Christmas ads – most famously for department store chain John Lewis. These TV-led campaigns took the 2012 IPA Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix, having generated over £250m of incremental profit for the client over the years.
As the office winds down ready for Christmas – we're on a skeleton staff next week – here's the latest set of #WarcFavourites2014.
1. V/Line Guilt Trips
Jess said: " I think it was a clever strategy to use guilt and social media to publically shame people for not visiting home enough, something that everyone can relate to, in a light hearted way and get such a good result for the brand. And the two sheilas in the hairdressers always make me laugh – total pros at guilt trips."
Last week we released our International Ad Forecast for December, outlining expectations for advertising expenditure in 12 key markets across 2014 and 2015. We anticipate growth in global adspend of 4.8% in 2015, a downgrade of 0.5pp since our last forecast in June. This follows expected growth of 5.5% in 2014, which is on a par with our previous outlook.
There are a number of reasons for the revision to next year's growth expectations, but chief among them are a variety of risks to the economic growth within our key markets, including stagnation in the eurozone, an economic slowdown in parts of Asia, and continued tensions surrounding Ukraine.
The 2015 outlook for all our key markets – with the exception of India and the UK – has been downgraded from June. However, all 12 markets are predicted to record an increase in overall advertising expenditure next year at current prices, although in real terms – after factoring in inflation – only half of these will demonstrate growth.
This post introduces Warc's new article series 'New Perspectives on Indian Youth'.
India is a young country, both demographically and economically. More than half the population of 1.2 billion is under the age of 25 and if one stretches the definition of young to 35 that encompasses two thirds of the total population. The contrast with other Asian countries is stark: by 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan.
As several of our contributors to this series note, India in its current incarnation was born in 1991, when the then prime minister PV Narasimha Rao initiated reforms to liberalise the country's sclerotic economy, opening it up to trade and investment and dismantling state monopolies, a process that continues today.
For five years, every digital and marketing conference you went to had the same slide circulating. You know the one. The one with the crown image. And the text 'Content is King'. Well it's the slide that will not die. It's had a reboot. Now, everywhere I go it reads 'Context is King'.
It's a no-brainer that if you get the context right, your messaging will be better. More powerful. More engaging. It'll probably sell more stuff too. But most discussions on context focus on the promise of context. Instead of how you get there.
Marketers are already sold on the importance of context. The commuter who gets a coffee voucher as they walk past the coffee shop on their way in to work. Smart devices that will tell you when you're getting a cold so you can stock up on medicine.
Last week we started sharing our favourite Warc content from this year – each piece chosen by a member of the Warc team. We've carried on this week, with five more great pieces making the cut.
We'd like to know which pieces stood out for you this year too – share them on Twitter with the hashtag #WarcFavourites2014.
1. The Programmatic Primer
Stephanie thought this webinar – based on a report of the same name – was great: "My favorite webinar was definitely The Programmatic Primer. Ted managed to explain it so well and in such an interesting way.".
Earlier this week, we announced the results of this year's Warc Prize for Innovation at an event in London. We set up the prize to recognise standout examples of innovation in advertising, and the (deserved) Grand Prix winner was 'Clever Buoy', from M&C Saatchi Sydney for Optus, a telecom brand.
For the campaign, the agency helped create an ocean buoy that warned of shark attacks that was informed by Optus data – a dramatic demonstration of the value of the client's service that eventually reached 19m people on social media. And, when I spoke to him after the prizegiving, M&C Saatchi's chief digital officer Christian Purser pointed out that the campaign was a good example of how ad people can innovate to solve client problems. "It's a state of mind, it's about doing new things," he added. "Innovation is simply about seeing the world in a different way."
Four years ago, my friend Peter Field came to New Zealand. He was here to talk about his research on creativity, and he mostly spoke to our agency and clients about creativity's ability to supercharge the effectiveness of good strategy. But something that he quickly touched on in an early slide kept coming back to me in the years that followed.
He made a point that seems obvious and unremarkable: that if you increase your sales by 10%, a small amount of that extra money trickles down as profit (once all the business costs associated with producing that extra 10% are accounted for). But if you increase your price by 10%, all of that money flows directly to the bottom line.
When he'd looked at the campaigns that had created large profit growth, the majority were campaigns that'd somehow impacted price sensitivity and allowed the price to increase. He showed that the biggest chance marketing has of contributing real value to an organisation is by enabling the price to rise (while of course maintaining sales).
On Monday we started sharing our #WarcFavourites2014.
All the pieces have been selected by people who work at Warc because they stood out in some way – an interesting idea, eye-catching campaign or something we noticed clients really loved.
We will be sharing a Warc favourite every weekday in December, and we want to hear from you too! We'd for you to share your favourites on Twitter including the hashtag #WarcFavourites2014 and tweeting @WarcEditors.
Here's another look at this week's:
Recently, we were asked to help an ailing brand. After dominating its category for decades alongside a very similar competitor, recently the brand lost the top spot to its rival. What had gone wrong?
We immediately noticed something striking. Yes, our brand had lost market share to its doppelgänger. But more surprisingly, for years, both brands had been losing market share to a host of smaller competitors which now accounted for a bigger share of the market than either 'market leader'.
Further analysis suggested an explanation. The two big brands had followed identical marketing strategies. In an effort to increase RoI and efficiency, each had reduced marketing expenditure. Each had cut emotional brand advertising in favour of harder selling stuff focused on 'new news'. Each had replaced expensive broadcast media with cheaper digital channels, tighter targeting allowing both brands to reduce 'wastage'.