Do aliens sell perfume? I’d rather have a Bounty.

Mid-November and the majority of this year’s festive ad spots are on screens and YouTube sidebars already. We are ramping up to a much-anticipated BIG CHRISTMAS, according to Argos.

From consumers watching at home through to adland colleagues huddled around laptops, everyone is ready to judge the contest. A Roman Amphitheatre filled with tinsel, baubles and…an alien.

Here’s a thought on three that do their job.

The well worn formula is a seasonal cocktail of heart-warming sentiment, product placement, script, soundtrack and the leveraging of wider consumer passion points. And of particular interest to this article - opportunities for activation across broader brand channels.

These masterpieces are, we may sometimes forget, supposed to drive impact in the way of not just awareness and brand perception but also purchasing decisions. It is Christmas after all.

THE WARM HUG – John Lewis Unexpected Guest

After this long in the game, expectations for the ad itself are almost out of control. You could forgive the brand for taking the approach of presenting something close to the template, which they have done.

The launch, fine. An IRL spaceship landing stunt in London and Newcastle. Doesn’t seem to have been a significant coverage magnet or to have blown up social. We’ve seen it before.

The ad, fine. A solid Christmas story and nostalgic sountrack is what they studiously delivered without seriously hoping to surprise the audience or alienate any part of their customer base. Anti-woke brigade aside.

The experience, interesting if not really that exciting. Gifts across social channels, interactive AR, virtual world, downloadable toys and activities.

It’s a digital happy meal. And who doesn’t love a happy meal.


Whilst a Lidl Christmas jumper might be funny at a work party, if your core audience expect their content to be built just for them – do that. An array of relevant talent and channels that reflect a lifestyle.

JD built the content in multiple formats for relevance across concentration spans and platforms. The ad in 2 mins, 60s, 30s and several 10s cut downs. A mockumentary film if the festive spirit isn’t for you – Dapaah does it justice. Special shout out to the various shop sign branding. [fire emoji]

A production partner committing to ‘diverse talent’, focusing on crew and young trainees from Manchester, Liverpool and London. The Manchester brand roots again figuring in the launch moment of the Premier League’s local derby on 6th November.

Outdoor media for all locations, a mobile game and a fully shoppable version of the ad. Point of sale that continues the story. Even a featured track from Toddla T ft. Shaybo taking the campaign onto Spotify and Apple Music.

THE PR CHAMPION – Bounty Return

Product at its heart. Based on humble 2,000 respondent customer research. An amnesty ‘swapping’ mechanic. Influencer amplification AND a retailer partnership to bring activation into the real world…


Chapeau to the team that delivered it. And the clients that approved it. I’d love to see comparative production budgets and impact side by side with the cinematic heavyweights.

In fact - if we’re doing Christmas wishes - I’d love to see the continuation of editorial-first content translating to channels traditionally the preserve of ad agencies. Especially at Christmas, a time when a good old-fashioned call to action should be embedded right in the middle of brand campaigns.

Come and chat to us at The Playbook Grotto. We’ll buy you a gingerbread latte.

Thinking by Leigh Ireland