Christmas is the season to be jolly. It is also a time when some of us enjoy the challenge of working out which festive TV ad campaign belongs to which retailer.
As a recent episode of Channel 4’' 'Gogglebox' confirmed, I am probably not alone in playing this game of "guess the brand". But whilst viewers may be confused, they are also bound to be delighted with the ingenious campaigns marking the festive season.
The multimillion-pound John Lewis 'bear and hare' animation is proving to be a real tear jerker. But it faces stiff competition from Sainsbury's poignant ad revealing snapshots of people celebrating Christmas.
Increasingly, what used to be festive ads are evolving into short films which have the power to make headlines in their own right. Indeed, I would not be surprised if D&AD create an awards category specifically for these amazing endeavours.
The social sharing which these ads stimulate also helps to justify their large price tag and brings a great TV ad into the realms of an effective overall communications strategy. But, whilst the emotional aspect of these campaigns is clear to see and felt by even the hardest-hearted of media folk, we have to ask the question about effectiveness.
Can we really be sure these epic ads are really driving sales forward and returning adequately on investment?
Despite the growth which the economy has recently been experiencing, the vast majority of British shoppers who have suffered financially since the crash in 2008 are now firmly in the discounting mind-set. Some wonder whether, as a nation, we will ever feel comfortable paying full price for anything again.
Interestingly enough, amongst the 4.5 million readers of the Mail, over half are prepared to travel further afield to shop at a store which is offering an attractive promotion or discount.
Our research shows that they want value for money more so now than ever before and also that they consider advertising in newspapers to be their most important source of information about retail deals and offers, outperforming both TV and on-line as an information source.
It is also worth remembering that despite tough times, newspapers still attract huge audiences – in fact, 20p in every pound spent in British supermarkets is spent by a reader of Mail Newspapers. And our readers have always been experts at sharing, as they are typically the central hub of close-knit families, enthusiastically spreading the word about offers and promotions they find valuable.
Whichever way brands choose to engage consumers, let's hope that consumer spending this Christmas continues to fuel the first signs of economic growth and gives real momentum to the start of 2014.
Rosemary Gorman is group ad director at Mail Newspapers