How the UK is Dominating Holiday Content

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Christmas is to Britain’s advertisers what the Superbowl is to Yanks. With last year’s charmingly-accurate home video tearjerker from supermarket Tesco and the high production quality of Marks and Spencer’s modern spin on beloved fairy tales as prime examples, the comparison is rather spot on. As marketers enter the final round in the seasonal skirmish for consumers’ attention and shopping dollar (or pound sterling, as it were), several UK brands have risen to the top in creating content that leaves audiences giddy and gobsmacked.

The holiday season kicked off in early November with an audible “Awwwww,” thanks to John Lewis’s long-form video, Monty the Penguin. Of course, you’ve likely gotten all wobbly-lipped from the original or chuckled heartily at one of it’s many impostors/satires, but Monty himself is much more than just a two-minute flash in the pan. The lovable penguin is at the very heart of a full blown, 360º campaign that includes a storytelling iPad app, online game, printed book, charity CD and virtual reality experience co-sponsored by Samsung and Google Cardboard. There’s even an in-store animation studio that allows kids to bring their favorite toys to life using Kinect technology. This is a beautifully executed example of how a major brand parlayed a single piece of content into a multi-channel program, leveraging technology partners to create a truly remarkable experience for holiday shoppers. No wonder his real-life fuzzy likeness sold out within 24 hours of launch.

Supermarket Sainsbury’s also sparkles with its holiday content. The brand partnered with the Royal British Legion to create a three and a half minute short film set in WWI that tells the story of unlikely friends momentarily putting their differences aside to celebrate Christmas together on the battlefield. The video, which was based on historical events, has garnered more than 13 million views in less than a month, but the brand pulled a complete 180º with its next piece of content. Earlier this month, the Sainsbury’s clothing subbrand, Tu, surprised a sleepy Britain community with  a group of dubstep-dancing dads in Christmas sweaters and filmed the stunt. Since launching on Facebook on December 1st, the video has received more than 1.3 million views and 25k shares, proving that a smart content strategy for the holidays can have lots of disparate, talk-worthy parts and still be effective.

But the real dark horse in this race is Mulberry, a luxury bag company that eschews all the treacly-sweet nostalgia most retailers dive headfirst in to for a tongue-in-cheek take on the season. We’ll leave the surprise for your viewing pleasure, but it’s a cheeky celebration of blatant consumerism and an extremely refreshing POV in a landscape of sentimental strings.

So whether your brand message is naughty or nice, there are still plenty of ways and plenty of time to create seasonal content that decks the halls.

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