Great Christmas ad from Boots – so why do I feel alienated?

Lucy Handley is a key member of the Marketing Week features team and has also worked in advertising agencies so can bring a unique perspective to client-agency relationships when writing on this topic.

Boots recently launched its great Christmas 60 second TV ad, featuring women plotting for the festive season, Mission Impossible-style. But I’m put off by its over-packaged gifts.

I love the Boots Christmas ad: it taps into the truism that women are the ones who are usually in control of gifts and organising at Christmas, plus it’s an uplifting and funny spot with lots of small touches like the woman who has to use a stamp of her husband’s name in cards.

Boots packaged gift

Some might say it goes a bit over the top, but I think it gets the right balance between funny and a bit silly. It’s the latest in a series of ads that hit the nail on the head for me, including the one where women have all the products to sort out office ailments and the ad where everyone rushes outside at the slightest glimpse of summer sun.

I’m also a fan of the brand in general, always miss it when I go abroad and am impressed by its relevant Advantage Card vouchers and four points per £1.
So why does the brand alienate me at Christmas? Because I really object to the over-packaged toiletries and beauty gifts it sells on 3 for 2, which also feature in the Christmas ad.

I know that these gifts will fulfil many customers’ needs, confirmed by research and the creatives from Boots’ agency Mother who attended a screening of the ad last week, but I’m afraid they turn me off the brand for the festive season.

It’s not just that there is too much packaging, the bottles are too small and there’s always one that never gets used. Plus, they are just a bit naff.

I know that all retailers are screaming about deals right now, which can make their brands seem downmarket – Selfridges even opened its Christmas shop in July – but I’m more likely to look for gifts which are a bit more premium.

I’m also put off going into the Boots shop itself: the nearest one to the office actually has physical barriers preventing people getting in easily.

Not security staff protecting the Chanel and Lancome products as you walk in, but promotional stands taking up much of the floor space, causing stroppy Londoners to behave as if they are fighting to get on a Tube carriage.

I’m a faithful Boots shopper, but tacky deals and a bunfight to get in means it won’t be on my consideration list for buying gifts this year.


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