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How powerful can branding actually be?

It won’t be long now until Christmas—even though the way we shop for gifts may be different this year, with most retailers closed until early December due to the second national lockdown (and whether they’ll be able to open back up at that point, we shall see).

Christmas is the time of year when the vast majority of retailers pull out all the stops with their marketing, but how much can a brand actually influence the general public?

Think about the Coca-Cola holiday song…’The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming…’ Some people assert that Christmas doesn’t even start until this advert is broadcast on the TV. If that’s not influential, we don’t know what is. There’s even a long-held belief that Santa’s suit is red and white because early advertising from the Coca-Cola stable deemed it so.

Over the last decade, we’ve become invested in seasonal adverts, the most prominent being the one John Lewis broadcasts during December. Featuring wholesome, heart-warming scenarios and popular music, adverts from John Lewis and their rivals, such as House of Fraser and Sainsbury’s, are even ranked like television programmes in the eyes of the public, who all look forward to seeing which one can rightly claim that year’s number one spot for best TV advert.

One brand uses Christmas to detail the comings and goings of their mascot, who has become so famous in his own right that he even has his own character merchandise sporting his cheeky grin. Aldi’s ‘Kevin the Carrot’ has enjoyed some fabulous adventures during the last few years; parents struggled to buy the plush Kevin that Aldi put on sale last December; some resorted to paying vastly inflated prices on eBay as demand for a Kevin rocketed, rather than seeing their children disappointed.

Companies such as Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero and Starbucks influence our tastebuds during the Halloween and Christmas periods, with a range of seasonal flavours, such as pumpkin spice and mulled wine.

Whilst this may not seem particularly influential, it does see coffee lovers switch allegiance from their favourite drink during the rest of the year to consume the specialist flavours the holiday season brings.

Whilst it was practically unheard of a few years ago, Black Friday, an American import, is now firmly rooted in the UK. Few brands shy away from advertising Black Friday deals nowadays, which tends to fall on the last weekend in November. This influence has quickly become ingrained in our culture, and shoppers now flock to the shops for what they believe are ‘crazy deals’, despite consumer experts claiming that some promotions are not quite as fantastic as they may sound. Though it’s not as prominent, many people also look out for Amazon Prime Day, which tends to be two consecutive days towards the end of October where Amazon presents its own money-saving deals on everything from electronics to gifts and books.

Though it’s not as much of a tradition in the digital age, Argos was a staple part of many people’s childhood. Their autumn catalogue influenced Sunday afternoons in the run up to Christmas as the children of every family pored over the many pages of toys and gifts to compile their Christmas lists for Santa.

Boots has influenced shoppers over many years, with its hugely popular ‘3 for 2’ promotion on Christmas gifts. Any product with a green ‘present’ sticker was part of the deal, which ran happily until 2019, when the company decided to swap the scheme in favour of a flat 25% discount off selected products. After a huge backlash from the public, the firm reinstated 3 for 2 deals just a few weeks later, and they’ve already confirmed that the popular scheme will be in place for shoppers in the run up to Christmas this year.

That’s certainly one way to see how influential your brand’s Christmas marketing is—if you remove it and there’s an almighty uproar, you can safely say it’s become something of a tradition.


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