Yes it is, it’s official, Friday 6th November is start of Christmas. This is maybe not the date Santa initially had in mind, but in 2015 the first airing of John Lewis’ seasonal voyage of imagination marks the beginning of an 8 week long festive period.
42 years ago when Noddy Holder’s lungs first bellowed out the immortal words at the top of this blog, it was that simple, it was Christmas, time to put up a tree, buy some presents, wrap them, put them under a tree, unwrap presents. Companies helpfully spent time and money thoughtfully telling you which Barbie doll to buy and what style of flared trousers you would like to receive, it was easy - a simple one way transaction.
Not so much the case anymore, in 2015 N. Holder and The Slades would be exclaiming “Hashtag Chrissssttttmaaassssss!!!” and they would have no interest in you merely purchasing a CD or MP3, that would be nice, but they would then want you to share this with your friends across social media platforms, including posting tweets or retweets with the associated hashtag. The purchase is only one part of the relationship, not the end result.
And this is exemplified with big brands this Christmas, whereby encouraging customers to even buy a product seems so passé, that’s a given. Asda’s latest outdoor campaign heroes on a Pug dog with the hashtag boldly declared #becauseitschristmas. So Pug dogs must be this year’s Tickle Me Elmo or Furby? No? Of course not, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas don’t you know. But surely the purpose of the new John Lewis ad with #manonthemoon is to push their new stock in telescopes? No? Maybe they got the jump on Richard Branson and have moved into real estate futures buying up development plots on The Moon? Sorry, wrong again.
In 2015 brands want, and need to mean more than just a shop that sells things with the battle of the high street moving into the battle of the hashtags. Millions of pounds will be spent on advertising and marketing this Christmas, bidding wars are in place over X Factor final spots, premium outdoor sites were planned and booked back in January, but it can never be more than an 8 week period. Of course it will generate and contribute to significant retail sales and economic uplift, but it simply makes sense to use this marketing investment to invest in the Brand and to ensure that this relationship transcends more than simply just a financial transaction in exchange for goods. This has been happening for decades, Coca Cola first embarked on this strategy in the 1960’s, but the use of hashtags in marketing communications opens the doors for this relationship to be a product of actions by consumers outside of just purchases whilst also providing an additional advocacy based communication device, spreading consumer word of mouth.
No one likes the January credit card bill, but it is much easier to swallow if it pays for more than just a short term flush and a blurry memory.