Christmas 2020: public favours 'real stories' over big-budget campaigns

Three out of four people think brands should not produce their usual style of Christmas campaigns this year – and activity should focus on real people over fictional characters, new research suggests.

Festive campaigns: can we expect changes in 2020?
Festive campaigns: can we expect changes in 2020?

A survey of 2,000 adults has found that 63 per cent agree brands should not spend money on big, lavish Christmas TV ads this year – as big-budget 'blockbuster' films fall out of favour in the COVID-19 era.

The survey, by OnePoll and specialist production company Truman Films, found one-third of consumers said they would feel less positive about a brand that spends a lot of money on Christmas TV ads considering the impact of the pandemic.

Asked about the style of advertising they would like to see, respondents signalled a preference for real stories and a move away from scripted fictional characters. Just eight per cent of people thought brands should cast actors over people telling their own stories.

The survey also found 36 per cent of British consumers think that most Christmas campaigns are overrated, suggesting there is room for brands to rethink their approach.

Jeremy Ervine, executive producer of Truman films, said: “What we have seen in this survey is a shift towards consumers craving real-life, authentic content. It is clear that people want to be moved through emotion, humour, or heartwarming content this Christmas in light of COVID-19.

“With the survey finding that 73 per cent of people think brands should not produce their usual seasonal festive ads this year, marketers may want to steer clear of the Hollywood-style epics that we have come to expect in Christmas advertising.

“This survey highlights why content such as our unscripted hidden-camera films have proved so successful for brands looking for a more authentic voice.”

The survey, of "adults who celebrate Christmas", was conducted on 17 July.

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