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Come the holiday season, it's easy for businesses to fall into the trap of over festi-fying their brand image, bombarding consumers with a barrage of anything and everything Christmas.
However, once every so often, businesses get their Christmas branding right; so right in fact that they have become part-and-parcel of what we associate as being Christmas time.
Coca-Cola is perhaps THE iconic Christmas brand. Over the years they've given us a near-endless supply of famous ads and campaigns. In many ways, Coca-Cola is responsible for providing us with the portrayal of St. Nicholas that we're so accustomed to today. Then there is the collection of famous adverts that have been running for 23 years now, featuring an armada of brightly lit trucks.
Coca-Cola's Yuletide branding has undeniably changed how we think of Christmas.
The idea of Santa has been knocking around for centuries, but it was Coca-Cola that gave us the plump, jolly man in a red and white suit that we know and love today.
In 1931, Coca-Cola commissioned Haddon Sundblum to create an oil painting of Santa drinking a coke. Sundblom's resulting illustration, based on the Santa depicted in 1823 poem 'A Visit from St. Nicholas', or as we know it today, 'The Night Before Christmas'.
Sundblom continued to craft and perfect his story of Santa over the next 30 years. During this time-frame, Coca-Cola's Santa was wholeheartedly embraced by cultures across the world.
Beyond the famous portrayal of Santa, Coca-Cola is also renowned for their 'Holidays are Coming' ads.
If the sight of Coca-Cola's Christmas trucks and accompanying jingle lighting up your TV is what it takes to get you in the festive spirit, you wouldn't be alone. The annual campaign was recently voted as the UK's favourite ad of all time, taking 32% of the public votes in research conducted by London-based advertising agency Impero in 2018.
For any advert to endure the test of time over 23 years and retain its appeal and relevance is an incredible achievement from Coca-Cola.
JOHN LEWIS & PARTNERS
Few companies have captured the public's attention over Christmas year-after-year quite like John Lewis with an annual release of iconic and endearing adverts.
In 2007, John Lewis released their first television advert in three years during the Christmas period, titled "Shadows". Although the 6 million pound campaign did not feature the trademark emotional denouement we now associate with John Lewis' Christmas ads, it signalled the start of what has become something of an annual tradition for the UK.
In the years that have followed, John Lewis has given us troves of iconic ads to accompany their Christmas campaigns. 2012's "The Journey", headlined by Gabrielle Aplin's rendition of 'The Power of Love', originally by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, hit number one in the UK singles chart while the advert itself was followed up by a children's picture book telling the story of the Snowman seeking the perfect gift for Mrs Snowman.
In many ways, 'The Journey" paved the way for John Lewis' success with Christmas ads over the coming years as the company amassed over 102.5 million online views between 2013 and 2016 for "The Bear and the Hare", "Monty the Penguin", "The Man on the Moon", and "Buster the Boxer".
More recently, John Lewis' "The Boy & The Piano" signalled somewhat of a departure for the brand in the sense that they've traditionally steered clear of featuring celebrities, instead opting for airy cover tracks to feature within their adverts. This time, however, John Lewis featured Elton John in an advert that went on to win the Visual Effects Society Award for 'Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial'. The ad centres around Elton reminiscing about his life, going back to the day when he received his first piano as a Christmas present from his mother.
Sticking to the high-street, another brand that nails its Christmas branding is Starbucks.
Year after year the coffee giant has capitalised on the good cheer of Christmas time with a plethora of festive-themed drinks and treats for customers. (Here's to praying that the delicious cranberry and turkey panini makes a return this year!)
Alongside the wealth of seasonal items on the menu, Starbucks releases a host of Christmas themed merchandise accompanied by their traditional packets of Christmas Blend coffee beans.
Another component of Starbucks' preparation for the Christmas holidays is the introduction of the famous Christmas cups. Year after year Starbucks fanboys, and girls, eagerly await the annual launch of the brand's festive-themed cups.
Think that's a bit sad? You'd be right, and speaking as an ex-barista for the company, I can confirm that it wasn't uncommon for people to come in and ask where the hell the Christmas cups were the moment Pumpkin Spiced Latte's hit the menu in early October.
Starbucks tends to focus its Christmas branding around the themes of diversity and togetherness. Undeniably this has proven to be a big hit for the company as Starbucks' adverts surrounding the Christmas season are incredibly successful. 2017's #GiveGood campaign highlights that success. The campaigns accompanying ad won more online views than any other in 2017, 76 million to be exact. Even more impressive is the fact that the #GiveGood campaign generated more than twice as many online views as H&M who took the number two spot for that year.
Let's be honest, brands going Christmas crazy can be exhausting. But, when brands get it right and create something truly memorable, it will stick in the mind of the consumer for a very long time and can cement the brand's prosperity heading into the new year.
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