Snap-happy Christmas everyone

Christmas is officially on its way: the John Lewis ad has launched. The UK retailer has firmly established its Christmas ad as a key milestone in the build up to the festive season.

But aside from the multi-million pound adverts that are now adorning our screens, this year, John Lewis has stepped it up a notch. Cue #Bustertheboxer and a bespoke Snapchat lens.

By employing the prowess of social media platform Snapchat, John Lewis enabled users of the photo messaging app to take a step deeper into its Christmas marketing campaign by turning themselves into the canine protagonist of the television advert, Buster the Boxer, during the first weekend of launch.

This is not the first time Snapchat has been brought on-board to boost a marketing campaign. Once upon a time, the platform was geared mostly towards teens who could take and send photos which would only last seconds before being deleted from the ether permanently.

Over the last several years however, the app has transformed itself with added features such as filters, a messaging service, the ability to save images to share across other platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, and more recently Snapchat Spectacles. Nearly every week Snapchat adds and replaces filters, including an increasing number of branded filters, to its menu. Eager to alter their faces, millennials have lapped up the opportunity to vomit rainbows or grow a pair of dog ears.

Now however, Snapchat is no longer just a simple photo messaging service, but instead it has morphed even further into a powerful and established media platform-come-marketing tool with some recent reports claiming its worth at around £20bn.

So why are brands cashing in on the selfie trend?

McDonald’s was the first to step up and employ Snapchat as a marketing tool in the summer of 2015, and since then, the app’s business has boomed. Boosting awareness of products, films, events, services and games is all in a day’s work for Snapchat which can now transform its enthusiastic users into a variety of personas, from X-Men to Ninja Turtles, from a Creme Egg fiend to trying on the latest make-up.

Other brands such as Starbucks, L’Oréal Paris and Michael Kors have also jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon; all looking to reach not just the hundred million users of the lenses, but the hundreds of millions of viewers who see the selfies shared through other social media platforms.

Working with a number of companies in the retail space, it is an exciting time of year for us at Babel as we wait in anticipation to see what new and innovative marketing strategies are going to be adopted by the big retail players, particularly when it comes to social media. Watch this space!