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Nokia got a lot of things wrong. While at the press conference announcing the acquisition of the company to Microsoft, the CEO held his head in his hands and cried that ‘they had done nothing wrong but somehow had lost’. The fact that what was once the leading brand in mobile telephony no longer exists would seem to refute his point about doing nothing wrong, but they did get one thing right, their Tag Line.

For many years, the Nokia Tag Line was ‘NOKIA – Connecting People’. For a mobile phone company it made sense, but actually for all brands it is an ethos that has become more and more relevant, from actual product delivery through to customer experience. Unless your brand is connecting with people, or facilitating them to connect with others, or driving peer-to-peer connections digitally, you are not really adding value.

As 2016 draws to a close, that theme is very evident in my Top 5 Retail Christmas campaigns. Every year I like to reflect on who has captured the best of humanity and sentiment, and Christmas Ad campaigns are always a great place to start. Prepare for a tear or two (and if you don’t tear up somewhere along this journey, go see a shrink!)

In at Number 5: M&S Girl Power

In a campaign clearly designed to capitalise on a Clinton win (oops) this campaign was to show that ‘behind every good man there was a better woman’ kind of thing. But aside from the fact that the US election result completely undermined that aspect (imagine the tears in the agency and M&S that day!), they still succeed in showing us what all brands need to learn. It is about putting others before yourself, something that every brand needs to learn to optimise their CX. It’s not about you, your processes, your systems… it’s about your customer. Here the point is made with a heart-warming brother/sister relationship story.


Number 4: The 2015 Macy’s Magic Pen

OK so it is last year’s campaign, but it is too good not to include while we are talking about brothers, sisters and thinking of others. Most brands make the mistake of focusing on their product and service, forgetting that it is always about the customer. That is the only person that matters in business. Always has and always will. Connecting with that customer is key. Making it about them in a way that resonates, that should be at the top of the list. Here Macy’s created a campaign full of magic, wonder but again with a similar underlying message to M&S. It is not about what you want yourself, but what you want for others that counts.


Joint Number 3 Spot: Tesco Ireland ‘Here’s To the Hosts’

This year Tesco made a campaign aimed at thanking all those that actually make Christmas happen, the hosts (read those in the kitchen). Of course this is very clever as in so doing they are thanking those in the aisles, those buying, as they are generally those cooking. The campaign focused on beautiful letters written from grand children and children alike to their grown parents thanking them for their Christmas dinners. It was a nice campaign but it gets a top 3 placement here for how it was brought to life outside the traditional TV spot. We live in an experiential economy today, one where if you want the peer network to share your brand story you have to make it real, make it authentic and make it a story worth telling. And so Tesco Ireland cleverly brought their campaign to life in their own stores with their own customers and caused a few tears to be shed. If your brand isn’t bringing your values to life in a real way, then your customers have nothing to share about you.

Joint No. 3: Lidl Ireland – The Homecoming

Staying with grocery retailers, Lidl Ireland get the joint number three spot for their heart-warming retro ad featuring a family surprising their dad by re-enacting Christmas in their abandoned old homestead. Ignoring the fact that the reality would involve rats, dangerous mould and damp, it is a heart-warming message that ultimately good connections are about making and re-living memories. Brands that give a customer an experience that can be remembered, long after the purchase or brand interaction will always last. Think about how often you recount the ‘old times’ with friends, about how often you fondly remember the things you’ve done. Brands need to focus on building memories with their customers. Transactional based businesses are of less interest to the new consumer. Today it is about the memory makers.


A Close 2nd: Allegro and Making an Effort

The Polish online retailer have a great Christmas campaign this year, all about effort. Real connections are made when we see the effort someone goes to in order to connect. When we go out of our way to make an impact, it is always appreciated. And so too it is with brands. Unless you are willing to put in more effort that your competitors to retain and attract customers, then you don’t really deserve them, do you? Real connections are built through sustained effort, and this ad certainly brings that to life. Heart-warming and funny, for Allegro it is all about connections.


Top of the Class: The Spanish Lottery – A Sense of Community

Today (the day of launching this blog) is the big Spanish Lottery, a tradition for many. Buy a ticket and 2017 might be very different. Even for those that rarely play the lottery during the year, December 22nd is one you take part in. I featured their ad in last year’s top 5 (at number 3) and I think that they deserve the top spot this year.

Peer-to-Peer is now so key for every brand, fostering a sense of community around your brand and what you do is critical. This is a heart-warming story about a granny who mistakes last year’s numbers for this years, thinks she has won the lottery, and is supported in her dream by her whole village. It teaches us that happiness comes not from money but from those around us, our friends, family and time spent together. A perfect Christmas and anytime message.


I wish you a Merry ‘connected’ Christmas and to my many thousands of followers, thank you for your comments, shares, likes and contributions during 2016. If you want to watch the 2015 Top 5 campaigns (just in case you haven’t cried enough over the last 10 minutes) then click here.


Ken Hughes is one of the worlds leading Shopper and Consumer Behaviouralists, blending his vast expertise in consumer psychology, social & digital anthropology, behavioural economics and neuromarketing to answer the question to which he has dedicated most of his career: Why do shoppers buy and how can we make them buy more? Click here to read more

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