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The most emotional time of the year

Emotion is always a powerful tool for marketers to maximise customer engagement – no more so than during the festive season. A seasonal campaign that pulls the heartstrings of a customer increases attachment to a brand at the prime time for spending, and when music is added into the equation, it packs an emotional punch that simply can't be ignored. Read on as we explore how this year's Christmas commercials have moved their customers – to tears and to purchases.

Dec 04, 2018

Emotion is always a powerful tool for marketers to maximise customer engagement – no more so than during the festive season. A seasonal campaign that pulls the heartstrings of a customer increases attachment to a brand at the prime time for spending, and when music is added into the equation, it packs an emotional punch that simply can't be ignored. Read on as we explore how this year's Christmas commercials have moved their customers – to tears and to purchases.

As a consumer, we don't trust logic to make a purchasing decision – we rely on emotion. Only 15% of successful advertising campaigns are based on rational fact, and at this most wonderful time of the year, this figure dips yet further. With the nostalgia and goodwill tied to the holiday season, audiences are primed to accept a slightly more sentimental campaign than they would for the other 12 months of the year, as proven by budding film-maker Phil Beastall's short film 'Love is a Gift' – a touching piece that showcased a young man counting down to Christmas Day to hear the last of the tapes recorded for him by his mother before she passed away. The film went viral, with upwards of six million views on Facebook – and it's this sort of impact advertisers want to achieve with their own features. Leading names in retail have taken a similarly sentimental approach – Macy's unite a mother and daughter galaxies apart using a simple snowman; Ikea's heartwarming Canadian campaign makes magic for a little boy with a DIY-handy grandfather; and supermarket giant Sainsburys inspired a collective 'awwww' with a shy little girl taking centre stage in a spectacular school play. Just small sample from a huge selection of ads, these three feature inspire slightly different emotions, but achieve the same heartwarming outcome that audiences love.

 

While content is important to a classically emotive Christmas ad, much of the feeling is carried in the music. In the examples we saw above, the track took a supporting role – Macy's gentle piano piece subtly building the warm and fuzzy feeling, and the Disney classic 'Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo' adding a touch of whimsy and wonder to Ikea's short. But in some cases, the music comes to the forefront to heighten the emotion even more. The John Lewis Christmas advert is a UK Christmas institution, renowned for a soundtrack of emotionally charged acoustic covers. But this year, the song took centre stage along with its singer – Elton John. Following his performances of 'Your Song' throughout his career, the ad goes back in time to the moment it all began: when he received his very first piano for Christmas. Already emotionally charged, this beloved track takes on even greater significance here through the personal story, and there's no doubt its notoriety adds to the impact. While 'Your Song' couldn't be more recognisable, Apple took a different tack in their UK holiday commercial 'Share Your Gifts' by featuring the specially written track 'Come Out and Play' from the relatively unknown Billie Eilish. Equally, this song not only captures, but forms, the message of the piece, with lyrics like 'I know it makes you nervous/But I promise you it's worth it/ To show 'em everything you kept inside' propelling the animated narrative of a young girl who keeps her talents locked away. And it goes without saying that Billie's soft, beautifully understated performance is charged with emotion.

Music is a vital element to build emotion in festive advertising – just like our favourite advent anthems add to the wonder and excitement of the season. And it's not just big name businesses that can inject a bit of musical feeling into their campaigns. Specially composed holiday tracks can be added to an audio branding production, conjuring up the memories of listeners from Christmases past to really inspire their emotions and forge a stronger connection to your brand. And whether your company is classically carol-inspired or more jingle-bell rock, you can still choose a piece that reflects your brand identity throughout the countdown to the big day. Couple this piece with creative content and a voice full of cheer, and you'll have a complete production to warm the heart of the listening audience.

At this most sentimental time of year, all it takes is the right holiday hit to strike an emotional chord with consumers – and fill their ears with festive cheer.