Storytelling anchors first spate of holiday campaign releases

Romeo Beckham in the Burberry Festive Campaign 2014

Romeo Beckham in the Burberry Festive Campaign 2014 / Romeo Beckham in the Burberry Festive Campaign 2014

The holiday campaigns are beginning to trickle in from big brands and retailers and already storytelling appears to be the winning ticket this season.  Storytelling in the context of the festive period is not entirely new, though retailers are expanding their approach to focus more on relatable humanity this year, as described in WGSN’s Cannes Lions 2014 Big Ideas report, meaning narratives that are common to society.

At this time of the year we often turns our focus to the nostalgia of holiday season’s past, and retailers are mirroring that focus for 2014. Brands including Burberry, Gap, Selfridges and John Lewis are each using relatable narratives to elicit the greatest consumer response; communicating compelling messages to engage their shoppers at this all important time of year.

Romeo Beckham in the Burberry Festive Campaign 2014

John Lewis has today launched its much-anticipated Christmas film, which already looks to be one of the season’s big winners. The short spot follows the fictional story of a boy named Sam and his best friend, Monty The Penguin. The tale shows the pair playing about as the weather gets colder before Sam realises romantic love is the gift his penguin is missing. The film ends with the message: “Give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of.”

This storytelling presents a charming and heartwarming narrative of love, friendship and magic. The campaign includes a 360 degree realisation of ‘Monty the Penguin’ that extends in-store and online including an iPhone and iPad game, as well as taking on virtual reality with an interactive penguin den. Samsung and the retailer have teamed up to create a virtual reality with ‘Monty’s Goggles’ where you can explore the Penguin’s virtual world. The store has also partnered with Microsoft in its Oxford Street store to create a Kinect 2-enabled 3D interactive ‘toy machine’ where kids can bring in their favourite toy to see it scanned and brought to life on screen.

Burberry has also released its festive campaign this week with a film titled “From London with Love”, inspired by cinematic musicals and featuring Romeo Beckham, son of David and Victoria Beckham. The 12-year-old can be seen dancing and playing the role of cupid to models Anders Hayward and Hannah Dodds. The story takes consumers on a “magical gifting journey” celebrating Burberry’s “Britishness, heritage, music and weather”, highlighting the brand’s best gifting items including the iconic heritage trench coat, cashmere scarfs and beauty look created for the film. The score was created by British songwriter Ed Harcourt titled ‘The way that I live’, tying together the brand’s music influences.

Gap meanwhile continues its Dress Normal campaign for holiday, with a twist enlisting Hollywood director Sofia Coppola to film a series of four short plot driven ads in addition to the campaign’s print imagery. With the help of storytelling, each of the films give glimpses into the anything but normal moments that families experience over the holiday season, accompanied by the tagline “You don’t have to get them to give them Gap”. One of the films includes an awkward moment for a teenager and an older woman under the mistletoe, while another shows a young boy miming a song to his family. The series focuses on the authentic family characters depicting honest moments, which families throughout the holiday period can relate to.


Selfridges was one of the earliest department stores to kick off its holiday campaign (on October 23), and has taken the storytelling theme the most literally, with its Enchanted Christmas campaign.

As revealed on this week’s #WGSNhangout with Claire Higgins, head of digital marketing at Selfridges, the store’s windows and merchandising include 25 classic fairytales. Though not all are directly related to holiday, each taps into the magic of narrative and by extension the Christmas season. The retailer is aiming to engage consumers with the emotional and nostalgic aspect of stories that include Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty, appealing to many demographics. The story continues online where the store has created a bespoke audio ‘Selfridges Christmas Story’ that incorporates all 25 of the window stories pieced together into a five-minute plot, through the eyes of a girl in the store and what she sees.

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