You Don’t Have To Be U.K. Retailer John Lewis To Win Christmas

Need a last minute holiday gift? These start-up brands combine great ideas with focused messages on social platforms.

by Kylie Wu and Todd Lombardo

Every year, we wait with anticipation for the newest John Lewis Christmas spot. For those who are unfamiliar, John Lewis is a department store in the U.K., and its “Christmas adverts” capture the hearts of millions.

10 million YouTube views…and counting.

Meanwhile, Kylie has been more focused on her Christmas list, where TV spots don’t help. For example: last week she came across an Instagram sponsored post by a fashion brand she hadn’t heard of before. What caught her attention was not some clever creative post hack or innovative way of using the platform, but rather two simple words: ‘FREE BAG’.

Wait…free? Nothing in life is free! She jumped on this supposed once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, added the item to cart, and almost tapped ‘confirm’ when she realized that, yes, it probably was too good to be true.

A look back at the comments left on the post confirmed her suspicions of a potential scam.We’ve all made poor purchase decisions before, and fortunately this was not one of them.

Aside from avoiding scams, we see two lessons here:

  1. Social platforms have become the newest engines of direct response marketing. These ads feature promo codes, free shipping, and the idea of discovering something unique, while crossing something off our list.
  2. Start-up brands have a marketing opportunity not seen since the days of dot-coms and SEM (and before that, catalogs). Large scale AND targeted social audiences await, no TV spot or search query required.

These are some of the reasons why Facebook and Google are now capturing 84% of global digital spend.

Which got us talking. In today’s Modern Media Culture, do you even need a million dollar TV spot for the holidays? If you are a large retailer, probably still, for now. For start-ups, you can’t afford it anyway. Anyway it’s not about pouring an investment into a TV campaign, but rather providing a functional solution to interested shoppers trying to get holiday gifts done.

We set out to find start-up brands that were taking on that “getting-it-done” challenge (and give you some epic gifting ideas), and here’s what we found.

BTW we weren’t paid for these mentions — these are legit brands we discovered on Facebook and Instagram.

^Lovepop: Christmas, unique and special.

^Smartwool Vans is hipster cool for the holidays.

^This jacket is excellent. Notice the direct response “hurry” message.

^Best wall art anywhere.

^Sexy always sells. Plus direct response savings.

^Most unique gift. Note the direct response special offer treatment.

^We know lots of kids who will love this.

^It wouldn’t be the holidays without a little political zeitgeist.

These are great examples of new school direct response: visually appealing, super-targeted, and very bottom-of-the-funnel, including special offers and calls-to-action.

We also know that dollars spent on social platforms can go far vs. broadcast TV; check out our Super Bowl vs. Facebook media spend analysis we did earlier this year over in Advertising Age.

Plus, we have not encountered these retailers #IRL, which means social platforms are creating new opportunities for innovative marketers to reach people beyond Main Street without ever setting up a storefront.

So while we love John Lewis, we also love everything about social discovery.

Here’s to a fantastic holiday and 2018. Thank you for reading. Modern Media Culture is just getting started.

Kylie Wu is a Senior Brand Manager and Todd Lombardo is a Digital Strategist and Editor at Mistress.