And they’re off. Christmas is in sight

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And so it begins, the onslaught of Christmas advertising campaigns. Boots, Marks & Spencer, HMV, Littlewoods and Tesco have all launched their seasonal campaigns this week and there are undoubtedly more following hot on their heels. This year, however, there is something decidedly different about the approach retailers are taking.

Coca-Cola’s “Holidays Are Coming” Christmas ad campaign has long signalled the start of the festivities, but this year retailers have a head start.

Every year the marketing build up to Christmas starts well before consumers start to feel festive, and the Christmas period is extended to take full advantage of the peak trading season.

M&S has taken a dance-themed approach drawing on the current penchant for all things Glee with a musical approach that gives a nod to a number of iconic music moments.

While in my opinion its ad campaign this year isn’t quite as slick as its effort last year, it does offer something for everyone with its popular cultural approach.

The Britney Spears inspired scene highlighting its children’s clothes, A Saturday Night Fever scene shows Twiggy boogie on the dance floor, a scene from Grease features Dannii Minogue, Lisa Snowdon and VV Brown, heads adorned with curlers, and a Beyonce inspired scene starring Brazilian Ana Beatriz Barros modelling its raunchy underwear collection, topped off with a troupe of dancing Santa’s will no doubt do wonders for M&S’s Christmas trading.

Littlewoods has Coleen Rooney leading a pack of women on a present hunt to evoke the childhood magic of Christmas and Boots has gone for the feel good factor.

Its series of ads shows a group of women dealing with everyday Christmas scenarios such as feigning surprise at the rubbish gifts handed over by husbands only to have the situation saved by products from Boots.

HMV’s Get Merry campaign highlights seasonal promotions and must-have releases this Christmas, underpinned with its PureHMV reward scheme.

What is different this year though is that the emphasis isn’t just on the TV spots.

Boots, M&S and HMV’s campaigns are their most integrated yet. Spanning TV, digital and social media, and extra value content such as planning advice and tips as well as in-store.

M&S and Boots have both included behind the scenes footage of the making of the ads themselves on YouTube and social media channels. This implies that companies believe that consumers are getting more interested, and involved in the marketing process.

Watching how the ads came to be on their screens is something that consumers haven’t had access to before and reveals a new side to the brands.

These integrated campaigns have shown that while the aim is of course to bleed every last penny from shoppers Christmas coiffeurs in the run up to the big day before the inevitable sales kick in, retail marketing is not stuck on transmit.

There is interaction, and a helping hand for consumers in the ever more frantic festive season.

M&S has even launched a “size detective” service designed to help shoppers anonymously ask their loved ones what size they take in various items of clothing in a bid to help avert disaster with over or undersized garments being unwrapped on Christmas Day.

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