'Advertising is going to be key' this Christmas

'Tis the season to be jolly ... or very nervous indeed, where brands and retailers are concerned. Fingers crossed, then, that it won't be a winter of discontent

Telegraph Media Group's Nick Hewat
Telegraph Media Group's Nick Hewat

NICK HEWAT sales director, Create and digital, Telegraph Media Group

- Do you think this will be the most important Christmas for retailers?

Yes, until the next one. Christmas sales growth this year is predicted to be a third of 2010's. However, spending was predicted to contract last year - forecasters were proved wrong (+3 per cent). Three factors may prevent the Grinch stealing Christmas. First, when times are tough, people turn to consoling treats - lipstick sales have increased and Costa has posted a profit. Christmas is a treat that is frothier than cappuccino, glossier than lipstick. Second, the Baby Boomers still prosper and they are gift-buying parents. A quarter of 25- to 44-year-olds visiting parents/in-laws will rely more on them to fund Christmas this year. Finally, we predict a "utility" Christmas. Presents will be necessary items people need but couldn't afford alone - so spending on these items may have been delayed from earlier months.

- What will your medium be doing differently this Christmas?

Sharing this strong message. In the noughties, 97 per cent of us grew wealthier, so you could effectively target any audience and still grow sales. Now the British Retail Consortium says 33 per cent have zero spare cash - younger generations are hardest hit. Brands need to target audiences who can afford to buy and this isn't 25- to 44-year-olds. Our audience remains affluent, better placed to withstand the economic headwinds. We are taking that message to market now. Also, in addition to our traditional gift and party guides, we're launching a food and drink magazine on 26 November. On Cyber Monday, we are offering a retailer online dominance of the site.

- Do you think retailers are too conventional in their advertising at Christmas? What do you think clients should be doing differently?

Christmas is about big broadcast messages, and print, TV and outdoor still do that job incredibly well. There will be more data targeting opportunities online, but reach still matters and it will be a long time before the power of a great print ad such as Chanel fails to inspire. We all want to feel like it's Christmas, and advertising helps us do that. HSBC has just reported that one in seven people intend to use the internet for their entire Christmas shopping, so I'm surprised no-one seems to have tried to really own key online shopping dates such as Cyber Monday before now.

- Which advertisers do you think do Christmas advertising well? Which retailers stand out?

I'd get excited as a kid when I saw the first Woolworths ad; it meant the starting gun had gone off. The modern equivalent is a Marks & Spencer or John Lewis ad. And I wonder whether Sainsbury's will try to extend its Feed Your Family For Less message to a Christmas campaign. As I wrestle the wallpaper table out of the shed this year, I'll be grateful for good advice along that theme. It would be a message that chimes with a largely cash-strapped nation determined to enjoy themselves - you can live like kings if you approach your spending like wise men.

- How crucial is the Christmas period for you?

Like most media, we take more ad revenue in the final quarter of the year. It's important to us but nail-biting for retailers; Christmas is when their sheets move from red to black. What is crucial for us this Christmas is that we get out the ICM messages that 25- to 44-year-olds will be more reliant on their parents and in-laws to fund Christmas this year and that a quarter of them will be receiving gifts from those parents/in-laws that they haven't been able to afford for themselves earlier in the year. Our ability to reach the right people is a better gift than ever this Christmas.

SPENCER BERWIN managing director - sales, JCDecaux

- Do you think this will be the most important Christmas for retailers?

Yes. It has been a challenging year so I think Christmas will be more important than ever for retailers, especially as UK consumers spend more at Christmas than in any other European country. So the last thing that retailers need right now is stay-at-home shoppers. When trading conditions are tough, there is usually a significant disparity between the best and the worst Christmas performers. Advertising will be key to separate the winners from the losers.

- What will your medium be doing differently this Christmas?

New research from the Outdoor Media Centre shows that shoppers are five times more likely to see outdoor than any other media. Never before have we been so sure about outdoor's unique role in the customer journey to buying occasion. This will be the first Christmas where digital outdoor can be used nationally. It can create a real point of difference enabling tactical and promotional offers, multiple creatives, entire product lines and even fashion catwalks. What used to be the preserve of the press is now available out of home, with huge and growing audiences to boot.

- Do you think retailers are too conventional in their advertising at Christmas? What do you think clients should be doing differently?

Unfortunately, yes. The traditional approach of press and TV advertising is seen as risk-free despite it being a hugely cluttered market and press circulations going through the floor or disappearing altogether. But, this year, you might get fired for being safe. But there is a real opportunity to dominate the hearts and minds of the Great British shopper on every high street and in every shopping mall. Giving you thousands more shop windows than anyone else, working all day, every day, driving both online search and footfall.

- Which advertisers do you think do Christmas advertising well? Which retailers stand out?

You know Christmas is coming when you see Coca-Cola's Santa on posters. Chanel, Dior and Marks & Spencer have traditionally been strong advertisers over the festive period. In the annual battle between the big five grocers, Tesco has broken with tradition by running tactical, nationwide outdoor campaigns that deploy overnight posting, multiple creatives and time-sensitive copy.

- How crucial is the Christmas period for you?

It's massively important - we have some of our biggest audiences and highest footfalls in our malls and high streets. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, people go online and research the sales before doing it for real when the sales start in the shops. The 26th and 27th are the biggest shopping days of the year where outdoor audiences rocket. And with 87 per cent of shoppers saying they haven't made up there mind what to buy before they arrive, outdoor really is your last window of influence.


You have

[DAYS_LEFT] Days left

of your free trial

Subscribe now


Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Become a member of Campaign

Get the latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now