Boots Bets On Christmas Magic

There are many routes to great Christmas advertising – gifting, indulgence, family, fun, tradition, humour, and more. The one you pick needs to align with your brand, of course, but also with your strategic priorities each year.

So a High Street retailer like Boots has a very different agenda to an FMCG brand or even a supermarket. The pandemic has accelerated a shift in shopping towards online retail, and for Boots this Christmas is an opportunity to underline some powerful truths. Getting out matters. Seeing friends and family matters. Gifting matters.

 

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The vehicle for this is a Christmas epic that’s very traditional and very lavish, but keeps the emotional storytelling that’s the spine of many great Christmas ads. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a British Christmas ad that’s leaned quite so hard and unironically into the “magic of Christmas”, with the central plot device a fairytale gift bag of holding containing countless goodies for our heroine to give to her loved ones.

The ad is pulled together thanks to a great lead performance by Jenna Coleman (who has some experience dealing with mysterious objects that are bigger on the inside). Boots CMO Pete Markey was keen to include Coleman as he felt the right celebrity had a lot of power to build positive associations and get the brand noticed among new customers.

The ad shows Coleman discovering the bag, giving gifts to friends, and culminates in a moving visit to Nan. So how did the UK audience respond?

With the general population Boots scored a solid 3-Stars – ahead of this year’s John Lewis ad and an improvement on some of their recent scores. But more importantly for a retailer that’s looking for a Christmas sales impact, the ad got a really exceptional Spike score (1.67), which predicts very strong short term response. The ad should do well at its primary task – tempting people away from their keyboards and into stores.

In another good sign for Boots, their target audience of women aged 35+ loved the ad and rated it at 5-Stars. As the brand revealed in our Feeling Seen report earlier this year they have been pushing hard to create ads which really feel great to these women and reflect their own lives and emotional journeys. In their Summer ad they took a down-to-Earth approach, here they took a fantastic one, but the core commitment is the same.

Finally, the choice of Jenna Coleman paid off – she was a strong association for the audience and a very positive one. Markey and his team’s intuition about her star power was correct. So why didn’t the ad do better among the wider audience? People loved the seasonal vibe and performances, but had some wariness around the sheer scale of Coleman’s gift haul – in an era of heightened awareness of waste it felt too close to overconsumption for some. It’s yet another tricky line for Christmas ads to walk, and in some ways it’s unfair to single out a retailer who’s done more than most for sustainable packaging. Overall, though, the Boots ad achieves its main aim – to re-energise the brand’s core customers with a touch of magic.

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