The holiday season has become a big opportunity for retailers and brands to create a deeper emotional connection with their customers at a pivotal time of year for spend. 2016 continues much in the same way, powered by big launches including a message of female empowerment from M&S with Mrs Claus, another iconic nod from John Lewis with Buster the Boxer, and a big cinematic piece from Burberry.
Whether the intention is to encourage happy tears or just have your audience laugh, brands are stepping up to the challenge of showing a strong sense of self, and conveying a powerful message in the process, all in a bid, of course, to drive some of that all-important Q4 revenue in their direction.
Read on for our pick of the best campaigns across the fashion and retail space in Europe and US this year (beyond those already mentioned), as well as a bevvy of further ones to know about below…
Mulberry: It’s What’s Inside That Counts
Mulberry tugs at the heartstrings for the holiday season with an endearing story of love and acceptance played by child actors pretending to be grown-ups. The two-part film, which was shot in the British countryside in Surrey, tells the story of a traditional Christmas where three siblings return to their childhood home to spend the holidays with their difficult mother. As the story unravels, secrets and problems come to light. At the end of Part I, in an act of generosity, one sibling gifts her sister her much loved new Bayswater bag, in a realisation that “it’s what’s inside that counts”.
Directed by Albert Moya and written by Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel), it explores a deeper meaning of accepting each other for who they are. As Johnny Coca, the label’s creative director, explains: “When I was a kid, all that I wanted to do was to be grown up so I could be like my dad. Now that I am an adult, I just want to be a kid again! Christmas brings out the kid in all of us, and this is what I love about using children to tell our story this year.” The second and final version, which shows the family coming to terms with each others’ faults and weaknesses, premieres later this month.
Macy’s: The #SantaProject
The tagline for Macy’s holiday campaigns has long been about the idea of “Believe”. For 2016, they’ve turned that into an exploration of whether children today do indeed believe in Santa Claus. Cue a series of seriously cute clips featuring young kids sharing their thoughts on the miracle of Christmas, before a reminder message of the sort of realities they’re faced with when turning to the internet to search out the truth instead. It’s a positive note revolving really around kindness with what we post online, which let’s face it, can be applied to all parts of life, especially after this rocky year.
Rebecca Minkoff: Holiday My Way With @arielle
Rebecca Minkoff teams up with Vine star Arielle Vandenberg to tell the story of an independent woman trying to navigate the holidays by herself as she decides to stay in the city for the first time, and not go home to see her family. Each video, or chapter, focuses on a different achievement as the main character stumbles into adulthood, from decorating the apartment, to hosting a Friendsgiving, alluding to Thanksgiving as well.
Rebecca Minkoff, the designer herself, makes a cameo as a friend disappointed with the (clumsily wrapped) gift she receives from the main character. On other platforms, the #holidaymyway hashtag is being used to promote a Christmas gift guide and additional marketing content.
Harrods: A Very British Bear Tale
Seemingly inspired by Disney’s Frozen, Harrods tells an animated tale of a young teddy bear serving as the only (snuggly) survivor when an ice storm takes over the palace thanks to a mischievous elf. Hugh, as he’s called, comes to the rescue by climbing to the rooftop in order to signal help from Father Christmas in the North Pole. As the narrated story continues, the spell is broken and Hugh ends up crowned a prince thanks to his courage.
In addition from Harrods this season, is A Very British Fairy Tale in partnership with Burberry; a stop motion short made from paper cutouts.
Coach: A Holiday Film Starring #RexyTheCoachDino
Coach continues its good-humoured approach to luxury with a holiday film starring its now beloved mascot, Rexy the Coach Dino. The film shows what happens at the label’s New York City workshop after hours, when one rogue Rexy leather dinosaur comes to life. Aiming to wreak havoc, the dinosaur runs free pushing over boxes, breaking baubles and generally creating a mess, all while dancing – by herself – to the soundtrack of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself”, as sung by The Donnas. As the sun rises, Rexy spots an open window and sets herself free, roaming the streets of the city independently.
Kate Spade: Make Magic Happen
Kate Spade’s short but sweet spot, starring model Jourdan Dunn and stylist Catherine Baba, features a small cameo by the iconic Miss Piggy. Shouting over the spot in a possessive manner, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”, the fabulous Muppets’ character attempts to keep all handbags to herself. The campaign also promotes the designer’s latest collaboration, with Miss Piggy herself. The holiday line includes wallets, phone cases, and accessories with the character’s “Who, moi?” catchphrase.
Speaking to WWD, Miss Piggy talked of her excitement to join the great group of women associated with the brand: “Moi was already a big fan of Kate Spade New York’s Miss Adventure’s series. I mean you see all these fabulous and incredibly strong and wonderful women like Anna Kendrick and Zosia Mamet having fun. So, I thought: I’m fabulous, incredibly strong and wonderful, I need to be part of this. When I discovered they wanted to create product inspired by moi: Well, it was a done deal.”
Target: The Toycracker
Target is betting big on its holiday campaign with an eight-minute musical titled The Toycracker, a cheeky take on the Nutcracker classic that reimagines the Tchaikovsky soundtrack as a modern hip hop track. Developed by ad agency 72AndSunny, the spot stars singer John Legend as the Rat King, his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, as the Nutcracker and Isabella Russo (The School of Rock) as Clara. This year’s popular toys, such as Trolls and Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, have replaced classic characters such as the Sugar Plum Fairy and toy soldiers, while the play’s famous sword fight scene will be told as a rap battle.
The full musical will air in two four-minute spots during ABC’s network premiere of the film Frozen on December 11 in the US. Meanwhile, the brand has launched behind-the-scenes footage of the night of the musical in the shape of a trailer, starring the Bullseye dog and a young girl, Marisol, as well as toys that have come to life to work on the production. The campaign will be supported by further marketing activity that includes a Snapchat filter and a “10 Days of Deals” promotion.
Farfetch: The Holiday Remix
For this Christmas season, Farfetch is presenting a remix of all things festive with a shoppable video that takes on a modern twist of the Nutcracker story. The e-tailer worked with choreographer Dana Foglia, of Beyonce’s Formation fame, to create a modern-day version of Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, with dancers donning this season’s best partywear.
When watched on Farfetch.com, the video allows customers to shop by displaying circles over certain garments, thanks to a partnership with touchable video platform Cinematique. Clicking the circles will showcase more information about the outfit, and allow users to add to a basket and checkout at the end.
Warehouse continues its ‘Resolutely British’ reinvention, under the helm of newly appointed creative director Emma Cook, with a video campaign that celebrates what happens in the girl’s room, or the ladies’ room at public spaces, from nightclubs to bars. The short video shows women touching up their make-up, socialising and generally letting their guard down, in a space where “strangers become allies, the compliments are free and the drama is left on the dancefloor”.
Topshop: The Anti-Cliché Christmas
Topshop appeals to its young and trendy demographic with a call to express individuality. The spot showcases models of all different styles, from modern sportswear to grungy, walking as cuts outs in front of backgrounds including cityscapes and the beachside, emphasising the idea of party dressing “without the one-size-fits-all approach” in order to represent an anti-cliché sort of Christmas.
To celebrate the sentiment, Topshop has also launched its still image campaign presenting its next generation of rising fashion stars, which are models Stella Maxwell, Londone Myers, Cami Morrone, Jing Wen, Kiki Willems, Marjan Jonkman, Damaris Goddrie, Caitie Green and Lottie Moss, Kate Moss’ youngest sister. Explaining the campaign, Kate Phelan, the retailer’s creative director, says: “This season is about the individual spirit of a woman – she no longer wants to be part of a tribe, she has her own style.”
House of Fraser: Christmas is Coming for You
British retailer House of Fraser is aiming to convey the excitement and anticipation that precedes the season with a modern dance spot, in the same vein as Farfetch. Teaming up with choreographer Suzette Brissett, the spot showcases dancers going through a whirlwind of settings, including an opulent dining table and a forest where trees are filled with presents. The upbeat soundtrack is courtesy of British songstress Laura Mvula, who reinterprets The Fugees’ classic Ready or Not track.
Additional ones to check out below include Cartier, Very.co.uk, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Harvey Nichols, Jack Wills, Boohoo.com, Debenhams, New Look, Tiffany & Co, Gap and Banana Republic. As a bonus: also tugging our heart strings outside the fashion space, is Sainsbury’s The Greatest Gift.
There was one particularly interesting bit about New Look’s results announcement yesterday, and that surrounded how global trends now travel thanks to social media.
As its profits surged 17%, the value fashion retailer’s CEO Anders Kristiansen said that “fashion is becoming more and more the same around the world”.
Now that may seem like a no-brainer but until now, it hasn’t been. Having worked in fashion for more decades than I care to remember, I’ve often been surprised about how slowly or how little trends do play out around the world. And I’ve seen more than one ‘global’ retailer exit certain markets because the product designed in country X just doesn’t resonate in country Y.
The arrival of the internet itself didn’t necessarily change this, it just made it more noticeable.
But now it’s social media that’s calling the shots and that has made a huge difference. Trends are travelling fast and exposure to those trends is rubbing away at the differences in taste between countries.
“We used to see a big difference in different countries, but because of social media, trends are the same,” Anders added. “A massive trend in the UK — like bomber jackets at the moment — is the same in Beijing and Bordeaux.”
Which must be good news for New Look as it’s earmarked £100m worth of investment to expand into Germany and grow its existing stores in China. It’s targeting 75 German stores within five years (from the current single concession store there) and plans to open 50 more Chinese stores for a total of 142.
This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday
Designed to encourage its users to have the confidence to buy from their phone, it focuses on offering both an engaging and a seamless transactional service.
It features a one-click checkout, high quality zoom, the ability to view and compare products in one, two or three columns, and social media integration.
The search is also refinable on the page, while users will be able to see whether the particular product they’re after is running low or out of stock.
Dom McBrien, e-commerce director at the store, says: “At New Look our aim is to offer customers an outstanding multi-channel experience. To do this we must offer an easy and convenient shopping experience through a multitude of channels.
“Research suggests that in 2012 access to the internet via smartphone devices will even supersede the desktop PC, so this is a clear opportunity.
“By offering a best-in-class user experience suited to the mobile shopper, we are confident that New Look will be the fashion brand of choice for the shopper, wherever they are.”
Amid a wealth of discussion on online community building at the second day of the Social Media World Forum (#smwf) in London today, it was particularly interesting to hear of the strategy being run by UK high street retailer New Look.
Oliver Lucas, head of consumer insight and CRM, explained how despite being a mass market store, New Look operates a “closed community”, called myLook (launched 2009), whereby fans have to apply to be a member.
Doing so, he said, enables the company to get the most from its ‘fans’. Creating this barrier to entry makes consumers feel like there’s something special behind those doors, therefore they become more eager to be there and more willing to actively participate when they are, he explained.
Accordingly, the official spiel on the myLook intro site reads: “At New Look we believe that fashion should be enjoyed by everyone and to help us ensure that everything we do is designed for you, we are inviting those who think they have a real passion for fashion to apply to be a member of this very special community of likeminded people.”
It continues: “Inside you will be able to share your views, suggest improvements, connect directly with New Look and the community and tell us what’s right and wrong in the world of fashion and have a genuine visible effect on the high street.”
That latter part,the “geniune visible effect”, Lucas also picked up on, saying the idea of maintaining a closed community is to make those involved feel more empowered. “If there’s 150,000 members, could I really make a difference?” he asked. Opting for a smaller number instead, he said, encourages engagement.
Participants are selected based on two criteria – whether they fit into the segmentation the retailer is trying to fulfill, and whether they respond to the (open) questions on application in a manner that suggests they will bring something valuable, interesting or even frequent to the equation. One word responses to the questionnaire won’t quite cut the mustard here then.
“So are they the right type of customer and how likely are they to contribute is what we consider,” Lucas explained. Roughly one in every four gets in.
We’re not trying to be exclusive, just very specific in our purpose,” he added – (you get a polite email of decline if you don’t match up).
He went on to express that despite these entry requirements, the intention of the ‘club’ is to make people feel comfortable. “Fashion can feel quite exclusive and therefore intimidating,” he said. “New Look is not about that and therefore our community is not either.”