Christmas ad spend 'to hit record high'

By Joshua Cheetham
Business Reporter

Image source, John Lewis
Image caption,
The latest John Lewis campaign focuses on a little boy and his friendship with an imaginary monster

Brands will be spending a record £6bn on Christmas advertising in 2017, according to an industry body forecast.

The Advertising Association says it is being driven by intense market competition, especially within the retail sector, and the rise of big-budget campaigns.

It believes spending on ads has jumped nearly 40% in just seven years.

The figures come as campaigns by major retailers such as John Lewis, M&S and Asda get under way.

"There have been so many blockbuster campaigns over the last 10 years," says Karen Fraser, director of Credos, a think tank which compiled the forecast with the Advertising Association.

John Lewis' Christmas ads have become particularly anticipated by the public and advertisers in recent years.

A recurring theme in John Lewis adverts has been to take out branding and centre on stories to grab people's attention.

Their latest campaign - launched this week - focuses on the tale of a little boy and his friendship with an imaginary monster living under his bed.

Rival Marks and Spencer has launched an advert featuring Paddington Bear stumbling across a burglar he mistakes for Father Christmas.

Image source, Marks and Spencer
Image caption,
Marks and Spencer's ad has Paddington handing out a marmalade sandwich

Meanwhile, Asda's ad follows a girl and her grandfather visiting a festive food factory.

Upping the ante

Among a survey of 1,000 Brits interviewed on behalf of the Advertising Association, nearly half said they had been moved to tears by Christmas ads they'd seen.

One in six also said they have changed plans to watch the premiere of their favourite Christmas ad.

"It's just upped the ante," adds Karen Fraser, "and so many brands and retailers are looking to compete in that market but it means that everyone needs to work harder to get people's attention."

Image source, Asda
Image caption,
Asda's advert features an imaginary creative workshop - the Imaginarium

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that purchasing from retailers - traditionally the biggest investor in Christmas advertising - has increased.

Prices of consumer goods have also undergone their highest year-on-year growth since March 2012 at 3.3%, meaning shops are facing an uphill struggle to attract consumers as real wages fall.

"A lot of businesses don't have much of an option other than to go for it," says Craig Mawdsley, chief strategy officer at advertising agency AMVBBDO.

"Some brands get to grow, but most are trying to offset the growth of others".

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