Christmas TV ads: A cherished tradition or tacky consumerism?

FORGET the switching on of the Christmas lights in Scotland’s cities, or the beginning of panto season, we are on the verge of what has become the official start of the festive season for many people: the unveiling of the John Lewis advert.

Already social media and the internet is abuzz with speculative chatter. Will a George Michael song be used in tribute to the late singer-songwriter? Is the alleged leak that the main protagonist will be “a cross between the Gruffalo and a huge cute teddy bear” actually true?

Source: Christmas TV ads: A cherished tradition or tacky consumerism?

Susan Swarbrick and Mark Smith

Are the mysterious clips appearing on Twitter in recent days with the hashtag #UnderTheBed sneaky trailers? What is that furtive-looking creature with the shifty eyes? And, yes, I hear you hecklers at the back: why should we even care?

Either way, it is unlikely we will need to wait much longer. Last year John Lewis ran a teaser on November 7 with a 10-second clip (hashtag #BounceBounce) showing a boxer dog watching a little girl play on a red spacehopper. The full commercial, Buster The Boxer, aired three days later.

Every year I unabashedly lap up this sentimental schmaltz. A lovesick penguin? Cute! The unlikely friendship between a bear and a hare? Squad goals! A snowman going to the ends of the earth to find that perfect knitwear-themed gift for his snowlady? Hello! I’ve got goosebumps, people …

On paper it’s a deceivingly easy formula: soppy cover song, tear-jerking subject matter and the effervescent joy of finding the perfect present for that special someone. Get it right and voila, you have the biggest yuletide talking point since Dirty Den served Angie with divorce papers in 1986.

The fact we are even discussing it is a win for the department store chain. Although does it have me hotfooting it to John Lewis? Nah, I’m more a Lidl gal. But it means I can start humming Christmas tunes under my breath and eyeing the boxes of decorations in the loft.

I imagine that there have been a few sleepless nights for the team involved in coining this year’s theme. The stakes are high because, to be fair, things have gone a little off the boil since their big 2011 triumph (aka The Long Wait when a young boy was avidly counting down the days until he could give his parents their present).

Call us Goldilocks meets Scrooge, but 2015’s offering with the telescope-wielding Man On The Moon was too sad (and a tad creepy), while Buster The Boxer hogging the trampoline last year was not sad enough (and the spoof featuring a gleefully bouncing canine Donald Trump far funnier).

German supermarket Edeka produced a masterclass in pulling the heartstrings two years ago. An elderly man is seen spending several Christmases alone with his grown-up children providing a raft of excuses not to visit each year. Time passes and there comes news of his death.

Each of his offspring laments not having spent more time with him. As they return to the family home to attend the funeral, their father – very much alive – appears in the dining room and says: “How else could I have brought you all together?”

As for this year’s offerings? M&S have plumped for Paddington Bear teaching a naughty (possibly sweary?) burglar a lesson, while Aldi have pinned their hopes on a heroic carrot called Kevin.

Lidl pays tribute to a series of kooky characters: the Cavalier Carver, Mince Pie Maverick and Double Dipper, and Tesco captures the theatre of a turkey roasting in the oven (vegans and vegetarians look away) set to a pared-back cover version of Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone.

Dud of 2017? Sorry, Asda. But the little girl and her grandfather sneaking into a Willy Wonka-esque factory for a peek at the supermarket’s festive food ranges just isn’t rocking our world.

By Mark Smith

It’s a kind of test, a little way to check whether you are a sensible, intelligent, well-adjusted human being or an emotionally maladjusted adult/child and the test is this: have you ever, to the best of your knowledge, cried, or welled up, or in any way gone moist-eyed, at a Christmas television ad?

That famous advert for John Lewis from a few years ago, for example. The one about the little boy who’s over-excited about giving his dad a present. It really got to you didn’t it? Or the one about the cartoon carrot. A cartoon carrot! So cute. You’re probably welling up now at the thought of it. Let me pass you a tissue for the tears in your eyes. But only if you pass me a bag for the contents of my stomach.

The point is this: feeling in any way moved by a Christmas advert, or shedding a tear at them, is like feeling teary-eyed at a cash machine or feeling moved by the profits of a fat-cat corporation.

Christmas ads are about money, profits and consumerism, disguised in the most cursory way by a tatty bit of tinsel. Not only that, they are about something worse: they are telling you how to behave, they are keeping you in your place.

This year’s ads prove the point. The Argos one for example. It’s set in Santa’s factory. But oh no! One of the workers has forgotten to load a cute robot puppy onto Santa’s spaceship! The little boy who wants it for his Christmas won’t get his present!

Fortunately, the plucky member of staff saves the day. Get real. A plucky member of staff who didn’t meet their targets in modern Britain would have their zero-hours contract canceled, fall into a depression, start relying on illegal drugs, and then finally kill themselves. Put that in an advert.

The Tesco effort is just as depressing, mainly because it seeks to underline the conservative conventions of Christmas, especially the one that says we should all gather round on a certain day with people who are linked to us by an accident of genetics and eat the flesh of another living creature.

In an attempt to look a bit edgier, they have put a gay couple in the ad, but gay men in adverts have become as conventional as straight ones: it’s a way for advertisers to look progressive without really trying.

And surprise, surprise: is that a woman doing all the cooking in the Tesco ad, as they do in pretty much every other ad? There’s an old TV commercial from the 1960s that features a woman cooing over a vacuum cleaner her husband has bought her for Christmas and ends with the tag-line “a Hoover is a gift for every woman to treasure”.

And here we are 50 years later and we haven’t really moved on. Like her mother in the 1970s and her grandmother in the 1950s, the woman of the 21st century is still doing all the work.

But that’s what Christmas ads do. They show us a cuddly penguin, or a cartoon carrot, and try to make us feel warm about something that is as cold as hell: the process of selling consumer products, unchanging gender roles, personal debt and the shallowness of thinking that Christmas adverts have any depth at all. It is depressing and sad. It’s enough to make me cry.


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Gen Z has a completely different shopping preference from millennials — and it’s good news for retail

Dennis Green, Business Insider     7.10.2017

Gen Z still likes the in-store experience, and that bodes well for retailers.

Source: Gen Z has a completely different shopping preference from millennials — and it’s good news for retail

When they want to go shopping, Gen Z-ers prefer to go to the store, according to a new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Members of the “millennials on steroids” generation told PwC in a survey forecasting holiday shopping habits that they prefer the in-store experience to shopping online.

PwC surveyed 2,395 national consumers — and, separately, 301 young Gen Z consumers — for its annual Holiday Outlook survey.

The survey defines Gen Z as those between 13 and 21 years old, while those between 13 and 16 years old were considered “young” Gen Z.

In the survey, 81% of young Gen Z respondents said they preferred to shop in stores, while 40% said they will only shop in stores.

Shoppers over 17, on the other hand, said they preferred to split their shopping evenly between online and in-store.

Their store of choice makes them different from millennials, too. 60% of young Gen Z respondents said they prefer the mall for shopping. According to PwC, malls are three times more popular than other types of stores — including outlets and downtown stores — with these shoppers.

Struggling malls have been diversifying their portfolios to include food offerings and other things that wouldn’t traditionally be called a “mall store,” and it seems like young teens still appreciate the mall as a place to get together and hang out.

When Gen Z-ers in the survey were asked what they loved about stores, they described the in-store experience as a motivating factor. “Fun experiences” and “live events” were mentioned, as well as in-store specials.

child shoppingYoung shoppers told PwC in a survey they prefer the in-store experience to online shopping.Getty/George Frey

It’s important to recognize that Gen Z’s preference for in-store shopping doesn’t mean that the US doesn’t have too many stores, or that the in-store experience doesn’t have to adapt to changing tastes. Most of what Gen Z says they like about stores is the unique experience they can provide when compared to online shopping — seeing items in real life. For a generation with limited life experience, it’s easy to see how this would be useful.

It’s possible that Gen Z prefers to shop in stores because they often don’t have their own credit or debit cards, though they also prefer to pay with their phone or wearable devices more than other generations, according to the PwC survey.

It’s also possible that Gen Z shoppers’ preferences will look more like millennials’ as they get older and busier, and start desiring convenience over experiences.

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11 Unknown Facts & Stories About The World’s Biggest Brands

by Joshua Moraes

The truth behind the brand.

Source: 11 Unknown Facts & Stories About The World’s Biggest Brands

How we came to be, what we did to get to where we are and what we’re called. For each one of us, it’s a different story. Some boring as hell, some interesting enough to be written about. And with some of our most well-known brands, the same is true. Here are a few of the lesser known stories and facts of some the biggest brands in the world:

1. A lucky weekend in Vegas saved FedEx

In the early 1970s, just a few years after FedEx was formed, the fledgling company was already in dire straits, losing up to a million dollars a month, At one point, it looked like they wouldn’t be able to meet their financial commitments. While waiting for a flight, Fred Smith, the founder of the company, impulsively hopped on a plane to Las Vegas, where he won $27,000 playing Blackjack. The company was saved and Fred Smith had one helluva story to tell.

2. Lamborghini sports cars exist because of Enzo Ferrari’s pride

Lamborghini was originally a tractor manufacturer. The owner, Ferruccio Lamborghini, had an interest in luxury automobiles, especially Ferraris. While doing a routine check, Lamborghini found that the clutch in his Ferrari was broken and he discovered that the car used the same clutch as his tractors. When he asked Enzo Ferrari for a better replacement, Ferrari dismissed him saying he was a tractor maker and did not know anything about race cars. I guess we all know how that turned out.

Source: Yahoo

3. BMW became a car manufacturer because Germany lost World War I

BMW originally started off as an aircraft manufacturing company. After Germany’s defeat in WWI, all airplane manufacturing companies had to cease production, one of the many terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. With the company facing bankruptcy, BMW shifted to motorcycle production, soon followed by the manufacture of cars in 1928. Their current logo is a tribute to their aviation heritage.

4. Coca-Cola wouldn’t have existed without American prohibition

Coca-Cola was originally created by John Pemberton, an injured Confederate Colonel, who wanted a substitute for his morphine addiction. He called it French Wine Coca, a nerve tonic. When Atlanta passed prohibition legislation in 1886, Pemberton had to redo the formula, basically to make a non-alcoholic version of his tonic. He named the drink Coca-Cola, the drink we all know and love.

Source: Amazon

5. The McDonald’s logo is based on the shape of the stores and not the word McDonald’s

The McDonald’s logo is one of the most widely recognized in the world, probably only behind Coca-Cola. ‘M’ for McDonald’s and all that. But the truth is, the logo wasn’t inspired by the name of the company. The original store’s architecture had golden arches on either side. The owner wanted it so that people could recognize a McDonald’s outlet from a distance. So when they were redesigning the logo, they decided to take inspiration from the restaurant’s iconic architecture.

Source: Wikipedia

6. The Nike sign isn’t a tick or check mark

Originally called BRS (Blue Ribbon Sports), the company was renamed after Nike, the winged Greek goddess of victory. The famous “swoosh” symbol that’s been its logo ever since represents her wings and speed.

Source: Pichost

7. The Apple logo isn’t a tribute to Alan Turring

Although it would have been apt, the truth is far from  poetic. The most accepted theory is that Steve Jobs’s favourite fruit was the apple. Which explains why their first computer was named after his favourite McIntosh apple. Oh, and this was the first version of the Apple logo.

Source: CelebrityNetWorth

8. UPS was founded by 2 kids with a cycle and $100

United Parcel Service, or UPS as it’s better known, had extremely humble beginnings. In 1907, 19 year-old James Casey founded the company with $100 borrowed from a friend and a bicycle. The teenager also served as president, CEO and chairman. Today, the company is the world’s largest package delivery company. Not bad for a kid with a cycle.

Source: IndianaPublicMedia

9. Virgin got its name because its founders were exactly that: virgins!

This is a case where the popular story is actually true. The name came about during a brain storming session when someone suggested “Virgin”. The reasoning? Well, since they were all just starting out, they were virgins when it came to running a business.

Source: HotelManagement

10. Fanta was created in Nazi Germany

During the height of World War II, Nazi Germany was subject to a number of trade embargoes. Because of the lack of raw materials and ingredients, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland. Max Keith, decided to create a new drink for the German market, using whatever they had – “the leftovers of leftovers”. The name comes from the German word for imagination (Fantasie), and they had to stretch every bit of it to make this drink.

Source: Tumblr

11. Puma and Adidas exist because of a family feud

In the 1920s, brothers Rudolf and Adolf “Adi” Dassler were running a successful shoe manufacturing company, Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. However, during World War II a growing rift between the two widened due to a misunderstanding. Later, after the culmination of the war, Rudolf was picked up by American soldiers and accused of being a member of the Waffen SS (he wasn’t). Rudolf was certain it was his own brother who turned him in. The two split, with Rudolf forming Ruda (later renamed to Puma), while Adi formed Adidas. The two never reconciled and are buried in the same cemetery, but as far away from each other as possible.


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Web 2.0 – Consumer Psychology Research


via The Impact of Web 2.0 on Process of Brand Management — BOTH BRAINED

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Is Brand Loyalty Dead?

Source: Is Brand Loyalty Dead?

By Published on .

Attention marketers: If you think 50-plus consumers are customers for life, think again.

The numbers paint a startling picture. Hundreds of CPG brands have lost 20% or more of their Boomer business, according to recent data from GfK MRI, and are now waking up to the fact that they need to reconnect with this enormous market segment.

Consumers over 50 control 51% of all consumer spending—and 70% of our country’s wealth. Marketers can make a huge impact on their bottom lines simply by re-engaging just a fraction of this demo.

How Did We Get Here?
One of the big differences between today’s 50-plus consumers and previous generations is that Boomers are willing to try new brands throughout their lives. This decline in brand loyalty is due to a variety of factors, including:

1. Traditional categories are being disrupted. Consumers over 50 can remember not too long ago when there was only one way to purchase a product or service. Today consumers don’t need to hail a cab because they can Uber or Lyft a ride on-demand. Airbnb expands the number and types of housing options for travelers. Choices are endless. In the food category alone, 21,435 new products were introduced in the U.S. in 2016, up from 17,143 in 2015, according to Mintel.

2. Technology is reinventing shopping. Retail used to be the place where brands appealed to consumers through fancy displays and packaging. Thanks to online brands such as Amazon, Zappos and eBay, for example, a drive to the store is unnecessary in many cases. Plus, recent news from Amazon demonstrates how the retail category will continue to evolve. Now that it owns Whole Foods, expect Amazon to reinvent supermarket shopping with features such as cashier-free checkouts. Other tech innovations are also making visits to brick-and-mortar stores less of a necessity. A Gap app, for instance, lets consumers try on clothes at home. Olay’s Skin Advisor online tool uses AI to provide a personalized skin-care routine, saving a trip to the cosmetic counter.

3. There are more opportunities to influence the market by sharing opinions on brands. With nearly 31% of Millennials living at home, 50-plus consumers’ lives intersect more than ever with their children’s and grandchildren’s, which exposes all generations to new products and brands. In addition, many Boomers are offering shopping opinions on social media. While people share their positive experiences, not surprisingly they are more inclined to post about a brand when they’ve had a negative experience. United Airlines and Pepsi found this out earlier this year when both became the subject of scorn in social media.

Reclaiming Boomer Loyalty
Simply put, brand loyalty isn’t what it used to be. But the good news is that marketers can win Boomers back.

Here’s how:

    • First, create a sustained marketing effort that is relevant across the life stages of consumers 50 and older. Consider the Boomer mindset. Boomers are known as the Sandwich Generation because they often support both adult children and aging parents. They are working longer because of financial obligations, as well as for added income, autonomy and fulfillment.In other words, Boomers are active and have huge responsibilities. Make sure you create informed marketing that speaks to their values, priorities, needs and interests.
    • Second, create cross-platform marketing campaigns that go deep within each medium to develop the frequency necessary to have an impact. Boomers are digitally savvy. Smartphone penetration in this group is now 73%, and most Boomers are on social media. Utilize these platforms to reach and develop relationships that influence.
    • Finally, use relevant, positive language and back up your message with action. Take a cue from Allure magazine and AARP, which recently phased out the term “anti-aging” because they recognize that aging isn’t a negative experience. Additionally, offer shoppers rewards for loyalty, provide top-notch customer service or give back in some way.

What’s Next?
Brand loyalty as we have known it is dead. In their zeal to chase the Millennial market, advertisers have overlooked the fact that the over-50 market isn’t content to stay with brands for the long haul—unless those brands are willing to continue communicating with them and addressing their specific needs. Now is the time to work on this relationship before it’s too late.


Shelagh Daly Miller

Shelagh Daly Miller, VP, Group Publisher, for AARP Media Sales, has defied publishing industry trends as well as Madison Avenue’s infamous focus on youth, achieving new levels of success across all platforms. Since joining AARP Media Sales in 2001, Shelagh has consistently driven sales growth. During the last five years under her leadership, revenue in AARP Media Properties, including AARP The Magazine, AARP Bulletin and AARP’s digital proprieties, has increased by 50%. Her success is all the more remarkable considering the overall state of the publishing industry.

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Beautiful mannequins that ‘push buttons’ may hurt sales: UBC study | Metro Vancouver

Consumers with low self-esteem reacted negatively to mannequins, according to a new marketing study.

Source: Beautiful mannequins that ‘push buttons’ may hurt sales: UBC study | Metro Vancouver

Displaying merchandise on a perfect mannequin could actually discourage people from buying the clothes, a new UBC study has found.

Marketing professor and co-author of the report Darren Dahl found that consumers with low self-esteem had a negative reaction to products when they were displayed on a mannequin. As a result, those consumers were less likely to purchase that product.

It’s something that could affect anyone, said Dahl.

“A lot of us experience low self-esteem to some extent. We all have bad hair days,” he said.

“Those consumers actually have a negative reaction when they see beautiful mannequins on display.”

The findings, based on a series of studies with 430 participants, showed that even men had the same reaction to the female mannequins in the study.

“We think [the mannequins] trigger the importance of beauty and the importance of looking beautiful, because even men had a reaction to it,” he said.

“What that means to us is it isn’t just a social comparison. [It’s] not a woman saying oh she’s thinner than me, or she has better curves. It’s about the notion of beauty.”

Other researchers have found magazines, billboards, and other marketing material with images of beauty have a similar effect on consumers. Dahl says his study simply shows that mannequins are yet another item businesses need to be aware of when marketing their products.

“It’s just another example of something in the retail environment that can push buttons, for some people.”

Marketing professor Darren Dahl say most mannequins exemplify society’s high standard of beauty, with long legs and thin waistlines.


Marketing professor Darren Dahl say most mannequins exemplify society’s high standard of beauty, with long legs and thin waistlines.

Most mannequins exemplify society’s high standard of beauty with long legs and thin waistlines. But Dahl also wanted to find out what happens when the mannequins are imperfect.

He found that incomplete mannequins – those without a head or those without arms, for example – did not have the same effect on participant’s reaction to merchandise.

“When you mark the mannequin so it wasn’t perfect, or you use just the torso and don’t have the complete mannequin there, it takes away from that beauty symbol,” he said.

That detail could help retailers market their product more effectively and some businesses are already on the right track, said Dahl.

“The use of torso mannequins has grown over time. It’s cheaper and it represents the clothing item reasonably well and it’s less threatening to consumers.”

Businesses need to understand that some consumers are sensitive to beauty messaging and at the end of the day, it helps their bottom line, he said.

But consumers have a responsibility as well, Dahl added.

“On the flip side, as consumers, be aware that these things do impact us – and to be an informed consumer, means you are empowered.”

The paper, called Standards of Beauty: The Impact of Mannequins in the Retail Context, was written by Jennifer Argo and Darren Dahl and was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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How Stores Trick You Into Buying More Things

People like to think of themselves as savvy shoppers, but are still vulnerable to these common psychological tricks.

Source: How Stores Trick You Into Buying More Things

Oct 11, 2017

Video by The Atlantic

How do consumers decide what to buy? The truth is that stores know you better than you do—both online and offline. The Atlantic writer Derek Thompson reveals how retailers consistently manipulate customers into shelling out more money than a given item is worth. In this video, Thompson details three major psychological biases that retailers exploit and offers lessons on how to counteract each one.


Authors: Derek Thompson, Alice Roth, Tynesha Foreman, Sophia Myszkowski

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