Tis the season for Christmas adverts

Tis the season for Christmas adverts

When the John Lewis Christmas ad finally arrives (along with mince pies, the Oxford Street lights, panto season and ‘I’m a Celebrity’) it heralds the official arrival of the Christmas season. And we somehow find time in our busy lives to discuss whether or not Elton was on a par with the man on the moon, or fell short behind the snowman.


In the spirit of its arrival, I wanted to take a look at this year’s bounty of adverts to review some of the attempts at taking the Christmas advertising crown. I can’t help thinking that this year’s offerings have been slightly underwhelming.

“It’s a little bit funny”

The aforementioned Elton-through-the-ages commercial is incredibly charming and impressively well imagined. Once again, John Lewis has made a valiant attempt to retain the company’s star billing at the top of the tree.

It was about time John Lewis threw a curveball and despite the absence of a solid Christmas theme and one of their recognizable remastering of old classics that will inevitably weave its way into the charts, they have hit the spot with this one. As well as conveniently providing Sir Elton with a timely promotion before his biopic hits the cinemas next year. Although, I’m willing to bet that it wasn’t John Lewis who sold his mum that piano.

Equally effective, it must be said, is the clever cross-referencing in the Waitrose advert which sees the parents of an exasperated teenage girl fast forward ‘Elton John Lewis’ so that they can eat some panettone.

“You get what you give”

I can’t not mention the adorable Sainsbury’s ad. I’m sure there will have been some eye-rolling going on amongst Sainsbury’s execs when John Lewis and Waitrose unveiled their joint pre-Christmas ad which featured an unfortunately similar school play set up. In my opinion, Sainsbury’s went cuter, funnier and more charming than the Bohemian Rhapsody iteration. That ‘plug’ just tops it!

The Christmas Fool

Among the festive joy there’s also been the inevitable Christmas turkeys, and unfortunately the Argos ‘Little Fool’ advert finds itself as the least redeeming in my eyes. The idea is original but it’s a rookie error to make your Christmas mascot so annoying.

Of course there is a plethora of other entries in this year’s Christmas advert chart and many raise a smile or a tear. But do we actually remember the brand? What about the one with Holly Willoughby? Or Santas on motorbikes? None seem to have established their brand quite so brilliantly as John Lewis who year on year are met with the most anticipation. Has there ever been a more impressive advertising accomplishment than becoming synonymous with the very season of goodwill itself?

By Holly Miller, Account Executive, Franklin Rae

Transforming a brand: what’s the point?

Transforming a brand: what’s the point?

If you missed our exciting news last month, Franklin Rae recently acquired media and marketing sector specialist, The Media Foundry (TMF). To celebrate, we’re excited to introduce you to Lisa Williams, Client Services Director at TMF as she discusses how purpose can play a role in transforming a brand.

Purpose. It’s one of those topics that I’ve been to numerous events on and read reams about since day one of my PR career. It’s something that almost every brand/business we work with is keen to define – especially to attract the millennials, who we are constantly reminded will only work with companies that have a solid, higher purpose beyond making profit. However, putting aside for now the fact that all consumers will ultimately think brands are out to make money, I can’t help but think that many brands are missing the point when it comes to purpose.

As Russell Parsons eloquently put it in his Stop mistaking purpose for differentiation article, when most people are asked to define purpose, their response is typically closer to a description of differentiation. In this context Parsons argues “if you can credibly differentiate because of practices that add value to society, fine; otherwise find another point of difference that sets you apart and makes you appreciated – don’t go searching for one”. After over a decade working with brands and agencies within the media and marketing world, I heartily agree with him.

For me, purpose is all about how you can – and do – add value to customers’ lives. It shouldn’t just be some lofty – and often empty – statement that is bandied around or painted on walls. Purpose needs to be ingrained into the everyday and should inform every decision and action made by the team. Of course, this can’t happen overnight. However, having been fortunate enough to work with the marketing team at Direct Line Group over the past three years, I’ve seen first-hand how purpose can play a role in transforming a brand and its propositions, delivering revenue growth through successful innovation.

So why my focus on purpose today? What’s the point?

One month on since TMF was acquired by Franklin Rae, we’re taking a closer look at how we differ from our competitors and the additional value we offer (according to my definition, our purpose). Having a similar ethos and shared ambitions is a great starting point, but we know that to reap the benefits of coming together we need to ensure that our purpose / value is apparent throughout our services and company culture each and every day. And who knows, we may end up with a rallying cry like Star Trek’s “to boldly go where no one has gone before” – which Giles Lury understandably pulls out as a great example of brand purpose in his book The Marketing Complex.

The Press Room: John Reynolds, Freelance

The Press Room: John Reynolds, Freelance

This month, we speak to veteran media journalist and host of the Media & Marketing podcast, John Reynolds. From Martin Sorrell to the BBC, find out what’s making the news in the media sphere.



What are you writing about at the moment?

I work as a freelance general news reporter, so write about anything and everything, from transgenderism to Grenfell. On the media and marketing front, I am following what Martin Sorrell is up to and also interested in new news brands network The Ozone Project. The death of media agencies and problems of the big holding groups like WPP and Publicis are also interesting topics.

What are the headlines everyone’s talking about at the moment?

Everything from trans toilets in organisations to BBC staff being overpaid, and even the death of media agencies.

 What is your biggest frustration as a journalist?

Getting stories. It’s become too hard to break stories now in the 24 hour news cycle. Journalists are simply tweeting exclusives with just a few words and not even bothering to substantiate the tweet with a story. It can also be frustrating having to hit up contacts all the time for stories and not getting much in return.

 What are you watching at the moment?

The World Cup.

The Press Room: Molly Flemming, Marketing Week

The Press Room: Molly Flemming, Marketing Week

We welcomed Molly Flemming, news reporter at Marketing Week, to our Press Room this month. Covering FMCG, food and drink, charities, energy, gambling, travel and leisure, Molly has a keen eye for a story in the marketing and creative industries. She tells us all about the top campaign topics of the moment and what brands are looking out for.


What are you writing about at the moment?

At the moment I am writing quite a bit about brand purpose. With the plastic debate and #metoo movement I think brands are starting to realise the importance of being socially responsible – be that about the environment, mental health or other important issues.

What are the headlines everyone’s talking about at the moment?

For some time brands have been talking about how to make the most of data with the rise of digital. But the Cambridge Analytica scandal and GDPR mean there’s even more interest around how companies are using data. It’s a huge talking point.

What is your biggest frustration as a journalist?

I think that from a personal perspective you always feel as though you could be doing more or writing more and you have to learn to switch off. Professionally? When people are so media trained that they lose any ability to speak naturally, which makes it harder to interview them and get a good quote.

What are you watching at the moment?

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 has started, so my Friday nights are devoted to that until it ends.

How can you harness the power of the influencer? 

How can you harness the power of the influencer? 

There’s no doubt. We’re in the age of the ‘influencer’. So how can you make the most of these profiles in your PR and marketing campaign? Marketing and Influencer Consultant, Freya Lifely offers her expert insights in our latest ‘Connections’ blog.


Snap felt the power of ‘the influencer’ in full force last month. An 18-word tweet by Kylie Jenner to her 24.5m followers about the Snapchat messaging app was all it took to wipe $1.3 billion off its market value.

The tweet followed the much-criticised Snapchat redesign and the platform’s infamously slow reaction to influencers and brand opportunities; only recently opening up its Marketing API and insights for creators. A function that has been available on competing sites for years.

Influencer power is something that brands are becoming keen to harness as part of their publicity and marketing mix. While there are only a few who can afford to work with influencer superstars like Jenner and her Kardashian sisters, there is a raft of online influencers who fill the same space as opinion leaders and decision makers for modern, digital audiences.

Running influencer marketing campaigns is notoriously complex. A lack of industry-wide measurement or standards mean that it can be hard to know where to start. These are some tips for a successful campaign:

Know your goal

Set the KPIs for your campaign before you start. Whether it’s brand awareness, click throughs to a website or event attendance, know what you want to achieve before you reach out to influencers. Using a defined objective to inform your creative, messaging and call to action will provide a useful benchmark against which to measure the performance of your campaign.

Select the right people

Bigger isn’t always better, and choosing influencers based on reach alone won’t ensure you have an impactful campaign. Analysing engagements on posts to get an idea of the influencer’s audience and engagement will help focus your campaign.

Be sure to request the audience age, gender and location demographics. This information is available on all main social channels for influencers to access, and doing the right research will help you to know what of their audience is made up of the people that you want to reach. Some male 25-year-old influencers have an audience made up mostly of 15-year-old girls – not ideal if your target is young adult men.

Authenticity is key

Influencer power comes from their authenticity. So, work with influencers who like your product or brand and aren’t just in it for the fee. Collaborate on creative routes and listen to the influencers’ ideas on how best to resonate with their audience.

Think outside the box

Leverage the strengths or USPs of your brand to inform the type of content you create. Some of the best influencer campaigns with influencers go beyond the obvious and come up with fun, sharable content which will achieve much better penetration than just a straight sales pitch.


There are legal requirements for disclosing branded content on social channels. Previously a grey area, rules are much stricter now. Be aware of them internally and make sure your influencer is willing to use full disclosure or it could cause trouble for your brand.

Freya Lifely is an independent marketing and influencer consultant, specialising in the media and entertainment industries

#makegood? If anyone can… ADCAN can

#makegood? If anyone can… ADCAN can

AdcanAwards_2016 (95)

Last week saw the great and good of the creative industry converge at The Mill for the the third installment of the ADCAN Awards – an annual competition, which champions unsigned creative talent by giving them access to industry leaders, and provides charities and social enterprises with original content to help promote their cause.

AdcanAwards_2016 (71)

Unlike other awards ceremonies, should the camera have cut to the nominees as the Grand Prix was announced, hoping to catch flashes of disappointment across the faces of those not taking the top prize, it would be rather missing the point and would probably not be the case, for the ADCAN Awards is all about supporting and nurturing young talent all in the name of incredible causes, as the Hashtag (which on the night was trending on Twitter) states #makegood.

AdcanAwards_2016 (92)

ADCAN Founders Dan, Deborah and Brydon

Founded by creative and production veterans, Brydon Gerus, Dan Heighes and Deborah Casswell to provide a platform for new talent they felt was missing in the industry. Leading production companies Rattling Stick, Partizan and Nexus, not only judged the work but continued to champion talent with industry speed dating sessions and workshops.

The filmmakers were given four briefs, provided by four incredible causes to choose from. To give the evening extra significance representatives from the charities introduced the films made for their cause. Hearing Nordoff Robbins, Streetbank, The Girlhood and CALM talk was not only inspiring but made the work of the filmmakers all the more impressive. Each of the shortlisted films had managed to get to the heart of the charity’s work and I for one am not ashamed to admit that my eyes failed to remain dry throughout the screenings.

It was laughter however that won on the night for Klaas Diersmann and his film (T)HUGS for CALM, The Campaign Against Living Miserably – a charity which aims to challenge perceptions of masculinity in light of the growing number of male suicides. Capturing the need for young men to feel comfortable to talk about their problems and doing so in an accessible way won Klass the Grand Prix for best film and the biggest laugh in the room on the night.

Klass also won the innaugral Peoples Choice Award. Designed to allow supporters of the ADCAN Awards to have their say, guests on the night were encouraged to cast their votes and as a result discussion continued into the night on which film was deserving of this new award, meaning the work remained very much centre of attention, how very ADCAN!

2016 ADCAN Awards Winners

Our involvement with ADCAN from its inception meant there was a lot of pride in the advances the event has made, we work with some of the very best talent in industry and so it feels very natural to help play a part in ushering in the next generation.

There was a barnstorming finish to the evening as Chaka Sobhani, CCO of ad agency Leo Burnett gave a keynote address, telling all of the assembled talent that above all else, just go out and ‘make things’. The ADCAN Awards are doing just that as they continue to #makegood.

Check out the 2016 winners’ videos here https://adcanawards.com/winners.

By Mike Goward, Account Executive at Franklin Rae