Unordinary Thinking No.30 – The thrivers, the survivor and the Christmas striver

Christmas means many things to many people. And brands are no different. Some peg their hopes on Christmas making up for the rest of the year whilst others demonstrate seasonal good will through acts of corporate kindness – whilst some even go a little crackers with their sale strategies. I came across three examples this Christmas which illustrate how varying states of mind mean brands can get more or less out Christmas.

The Thrivers

Picture1With the extraordinary summer in the rear view mirror, Christmas found itself for once needing to go the extra mile to keep the top spot.

But with the white bearded super-fast man of the people leading festivities (that’s Father Christmas and not Richard Branson to save confusion), brands such as Next, Sainsbury, John Lewis, Debenhams, House of Fraser and The Entertainer posted great or best ever sales results.

It wasn’t all ho, ho, ho on the high street though with many traders citing it as a poor one.

The Survivor


Other retailers took drastic measures to survive. I visited my brother in Staffordshire and found this notice in a restaurant. The wording assumes customers would be empathetic to the eatery’s plight and travel 100 yards up the high street to get cash. And I am sure some did.

For me this rather uncomfortable message suggested the restaurant had an inefficient operating model, for which I had to compensate. But what the restaurant didn’t realise is that I was now considering where else they may be making ‘savings’ if they were prepared to share this one with customers before they sat down! Perhaps the quality of the food, the staff training, health & safety?

I did leave the restaurant and walk up the high street, but because I have a choice as a consumer, rather than an obligation, I went past the cash point and on to another restaurant. Whilst I understand their stance, it impacted my perception of the customer experience too greatly to any longer contemplate the restaurant. Who said humbug!

The Striver

But featuring one of the most recognised philanthropists in the world this communication for me captured the important ‘fun’ attribute of Christmas so well.

In the back of Marketing Week in December I saw a full-page ad in the recruitment section which made me smile, feel warm towards the brand and feel compelled to show to a few people, before I wrote this blog. I haven’t been involved in buying ad space for recruitment for over 15 years, but even I know that a full-page ad is not one you waste. You post your best/most high-profile appointments on it. So when EMR used the ad for 100% brand building it stopped me in my tracks.


The ad was for an appointment. So how can it be brand building you are probably thinking? Because the ad was for a position they didn’t have to advertise. In fact. for a position that doesn’t exist full stop (don’t share this with anyone under the age of 12). Even though when I saw the title I knew exactly what it was for.

The recruitment ad promotes ‘global head of distribution’, with 364 days holiday, elf insurance, a jolly professional and the ideal candidate will have a good working knowledge of the international toy market. Yes, it’s an ad for Father Christmas.

This ‘once a year opportunity’ ad said to me EMR are looking forward to the Christmas season. Making the most of the oldest seasonal marketing opportunity around, EMR has fully optimised the this space with a compelling message, relevant to their market and engaging to all – utilising the most recognisable icon in modern times.

If you can see the text, please read the ad, you’ll love the copy. If not email me and I’ll send it to you.

It shows brands look at Christmas in different ways, depending on where they are coming at it from (financially and understanding of how their customer’s enjoy the season too). In EMR I see that striver. If I have one corporate new years resolution it is to approach all brand awareness opportunities like them.

EMR are on now my Christmas list for 2013.

Posted by Christ(mas)opher Brooks.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information please contact , or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. And you can follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris

Who we work with…

clients mar 2013

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