Marketing and the Movies


It’s officially December: people are digging out their decorations, adorning their front doors with wreaths and sharing Christmas adverts like crazy. We’ve noticed a cinematic trend amongst this year’s festive marketing, with brands enlisting famous directors and Hollywood megastars to ensure that their adverts stand out from the crowd. We decided to delve into the data to assess which has the best chance of success…

1.    Burberry       

What’s the pitch: Burberry’s Christmas offering is presented as a highly glamorous trailer for the latest big-budget period drama. It tells the (fictionalised) story of founder Thomas Burberry and the people he dressed, taking in a love affair with pilot Betty Dawson (based on Betty Kirby-Green) and an encounter with explorer Ernest Shackleton.

Star-o-meter: 5/5 – An A-list cast includes Domhnall Gleeson, Lily James, Sienna Miller and Dominic West, and the director is Asif Kapadia (most famous for the documentary 'Amy').

Is it relevant? Burberry’s campaign relies strongly on the audience’s knowledge and love of British actors. Unfortunately for the designer brand, their audience show no particular love of film or interest in celebrity culture. However, all is not lost; Burberry shoppers do display a distinct passion for British culture as a whole; they especially enjoy visiting major museums and art galleries, and reading luxury British fashion publications such as Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. The advert’s focus on the heritage of the brand, therefore, will almost certainly prove a hit with faithful Burberry fans.

2.    H&M 

What’s the pitch: H&M clearly gave Wes Anderson permission to flaunt his signature style and he has produced a short film that looks and feels like a sequel to his hit movie 'The Darjeeling Limited'. Adrien Brody stars as a train conductor who plans a festive surprise for his passengers when heavy snowfall means they won’t make it home for Christmas.

Star-o-meter: 4/5 – Directed by whimsical Hollywood director Wes Anderson and starring Oscar winner Adrien Brody.

Is it relevant? Insight from Starcount shows that H&M shoppers share a love of art and museums, as well as a passion for fashion, with some of their favourite activities including browsing Artnet.com and visiting London’s Design Museum. This indicates that the bold and colourful visual style of the advert is likely to appeal. However, their high-brow cultural interests end there, with arthouse movies not on their radar. Even those fans who do catch the occasional film prefer mainstream production companies such as Disney and Warner Brothers to the quirky cinematic style of Wes Anderson. As for star and regular Anderson muse Adrien Brody? While H&M fans may recognise him from his occasional forays into blockbuster territory, they prefer the charms of cheeky chappies Russell Brand and Jack Whitehall.

3.    Sainsbury’s 

What’s the pitch: Sainsbury’s has gone in a dramatically different direction to the majority of high profile brands by producing an animated advert for Christmas 2016. Featuring an original song sung by James Corden, it focuses on Dave, a working father who struggles to find enough time to spend with his family, and finally comes up with a surprising solution – you guessed it – just in time for Christmas. This year, the Sainsbury’s advert is supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Star-o-meter: 3.5/5 – Starring the vocal talents of James Corden, featuring an original song by Brett McKenzie (one half of comedy duo Flight of the Conchords) and directed by 'Flushed Away' director Chris Fell.

Is it relevant? Sainsbury’s shoppers are all ages and love to watch mainstream, family-friendly blockbusters such as the Harry Potter series and the Avengers films. Cartoons and Pixar movies are also a hit with this audience, indicating that the choice to produce an animated advert was well founded. The real star appeal of Sainsbury’s advert comes from James Corden and, luckily for the supermarket, he seems to have been a worthwhile investment. A huge 40% of Sainsbury’s fans also love James’ charming comedic style.

Only 3% of the Sainsbury’s audience currently follow Great Ormond Street Hospital, indicating that the partnership is a great opportunity for the charity to appeal to a new audience during the festive season.

4.    M&S

Star-o-meter: 3/5 – Starring Janet McTeer and directed by Tom Hooper ('The King’s Speech')

What’s the pitch: Returning to their ‘Mrs M&S’ sensibility, this year’s M&S advert focuses on a young boy, Jake, who keep squabbling with his sister. Wanting to make it up to her, he writes a letter to Mrs Claus, who sneaks out on Christmas Eve after her husband has left in order to leave Jake’s sister a special gift.

Is it relevant? M&S have specifically stated that their campaign was designed to ‘resonate more’ with customers and create an emotional connection, going so far as to call it a ‘customer experience campaign’. But did they pitch their efforts perfectly to suit the genuine passions of their customer base? Well, according to our insight, the advert seems on track for success. The M&S UK audience is heavily gender biased, with 72.7% being women – 1.6 times higher than the UK base. The focus on Mrs Claus, therefore, seems like a strong choice.

When it comes to entertainment, M&S shoppers love documentaries, talent shows and crime – none of which especially fit with this year’s Christmas offering. However, delving deeper into their interests, a fifth of them are secretly fans of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, a subtle reference to which was included in the advert (did you catch it?). Nice going, M&S.