Which retailers' Christmas campaigns are crackers and which have proved turkeys?

PRWeek UK's Robert Smith and his panel of consumer PR experts are keeping a close eye on the big retailers' Christmas campaigns.

Cracker or turkey? Our Christmas panel decides... (┬ęThinkstockPhotos)
Cracker or turkey? Our Christmas panel decides... (┬ęThinkstockPhotos)

At what is always a critical time for the high street, we will be updating this page as more retailers launch their festive campaigns - and then looking back at which of them scored the biggest success.

Here we summarise campaigns' main themes and activities, and include highlights of commentary from the Christmas panel of Ready10 founder David Fraser (DF); Hotwire global head of consumer Emma Hazan (EH); Taylor Herring managing partner James Herring (JH); Unity co-founder Nik Govier (NG); and Lewis head of consumer UK Ranj George (RG).


Launch date: Saturday 12 November

The campaign: This centres around 'Every Bit of Christmas', a catchy song written by rapping comedian Doc Brown. A film shows members of the public, Sainsbury's staff, and a handful of celebrities singing about Christmas traditions. A total of 25 versions of the black and while film are being launched across a variety of formats, with a karaoke version available on YouTube, and the tune itself available on Spotify. Unlike its rivals, there is no charity partner or merchandise accompany the campaign.

The verdict: JH: "Undoubtedly going to divide the room", NG: "Doesn't feel like it's trying too hard... different from the rest". Read more analysis here.


Launch date: Saturday 12 November

The campaign: Shot completely in black and white, the central film in Waitrose's campaign sees village neighbours sharing Christmas dinner at the pub after being snowed in. It also includes a competition where five people can win a feast for their community group, is encouraging people to eat together in its in-store cafes, has organised a supper club for influencers and bloggers and a book based on the film is being sold to raise money for charity.

The verdict: NG: "Feels true to the brand"; DF: "They clearly know their market". Read more analysis here

John Lewis

Launch date: Friday 10 November

The campaign: The hotly anticipated John Lewis campaign centres around the story of Joe and his friend Moz, a monster who lives under his bed, and again has a mellow song as its soundtrack. It was released across social media ahead of its first showing on TV. Amplification includes a storybook version of the tale, with this, as well as branded toys and mugs being sold in store to raise money for children's charity Barnardo's. There is also a customisible audio book-style recording of the tale, and a VR filter on Facebook.

The verdict: RG: "John Lewis has well-trodden path... it if works, why change it?"; NG: "I cant help but love this"; EH "innovative, fun ways of reaching a wider audience". Read more analysis and social stats here

Marks & Spencer

Launch date: Tuesday 7 November

The campaign: The central M&S campaign film sees Paddington Bear save Christmas by helping a burglar re-deliver stolen Christmas presents. This tale forms the basis of a children's storybook, 'Paddington and the Christmas Visitor', costing £3 in M&S, with £2 of each sale going to Childline. Further content will launch, with the hashtag #LoveTheBear accompanied by a pawprint emoji, used on social. There are Paddington concessions and exclusive merchandise in stores.

The verdict: EH: "a nice escape... but then a bit cringey at the same time"; NG: "just the right level of poignancy"; DF: "unlike rivals, low on product and all about storytelling". Read more analysis here


Launch date: Tuesday 7 November

The campaign: The PRWeek UK Award-winning Kevin the Carrot campaign is back - and this year, the vegetable hero falls in love. There will be 14 product-orientated films released across the Christmas period, and Kevin and his love interest Katie will be chatting to the public on Twitter. Soft toy versions and books on the protagonists go on sale in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust. The campaign was teased with a profile of Kevin on the dating app Happn.

The verdict: NG: "The character-led approach is actually becoming quite formulaic"; EH: "clever integration". Read more analysis here


Launch date: Sunday 5 November

The campaign: A series of five films will focus on food, using the #EveryonesWelcome campaign slogan. Tesco will donate £1 to food charities FareShare and The Trussell Trust for every fresh turkey sold.

The verdict: RG: "Sits successfully in the middle ground". Read more analysis here


Launch date: Friday 3 November

The campaign: Eight films portraying a range of quirky characters with "tribal" behaviours typical of British families at Christmas are being released, with the aim of highlighting the firm's seasonal products range.

The verdict: RG: "astute in not trying to pull at the heartstrings"; JH: "the theme of 'tribes' is a hard PR sell". Read more analysis here


Launch date: Friday 3 November

The campaign: Argos' Christmas campaign is a fast-paced affair, showing a hi-tech (fictional) Argos distribution centre, following one elf racing against the clock to get a stranded toy to Santa's futuristic sleigh. Hope&Glory is helping to run a social competition that will place three children in the TV cut of its client's film for a day each on 10, 11 and 12 November, with those not successful in the competition instead getting a personalised social media-ready version.

The verdict: DF: "It isn't pretending to be earnest"; RG: "I'm sceptical whether it will garner acquisition outside its core audience". Read more analysis here

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