While Christmas time gives many the warm and fuzzies, it restricts an agency’s creative juices, reckons creative director at Campaign Edge, Dee Madigan.
“Christmas doesn’t generally let you be edgy, it’s kind of in that real feel-good space,” she said, “which is a little boring creatively.”
Creative director at M&C Saatchi, Andy Flemming said because it’s summer in Australia during Christmas, brands tend to focus on that rather than big Christmas work, unlike his homeland of England, where you’ve got nothing else to do besides sit inside and watch TV because it’s so bloody cold.
“It’d be nice if people did throw caution to the wind a little bit more and come out with some big work,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s ever really going to reach the scale of the England thing simply because of the seasonality…and because there’s already so much work that’s celebrating the season that to do a big Christmas ad just feels like another spot celebrating summer.”
For brands that do tap into the surfing santas, red-nosed reindeer and holly galore, trying to do something not cliché or cheesy and still on brand is a fine balance.
“Trying to get brand in can feel really contrived, unless it’s a really natural fit,” said Madigan. However, she noted her clients are more the unions and political parties, joking “none of them are clamouring for me to do Christmas campaigns for them”.
You can’t completely steer clear of clichés though, believes James Crawley, creative director at agency Common Venutres, as it’s a time of year that everyone is covering the same ground.
“If you’re obsessed with avoiding cliches – you’ll quickly realise you’re killing every idea in an instant,” he said.
“The best creative directors I’ve been lucky enough to work with are the people that champion a concept if it’s strategically right, regardless of what other brands have done. It might sound like the most basic and knee-jerk idea in the whole agency – but if it’s what’s right for the brand and the business problem they’re facing – you can’t ignore it. You just need to find a way to execute it differently.”
Campaign Edge’s Madigan does pin point Jeep’s Christmas ad from last year, created by Cummins&Partners which saw Santa finish his present delivery early because he bought a jeep, worked well.
“It was a really good tie-in with the existing campaign, with Christmas and it was funny.”