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Every year, during the November-December holiday seasons, big and small businesses invest time, money and imagination on developing a 60-90 second video with the goals as simple as that of wishing clients and consumers a happy holiday to as lofty as producing the next “viral Christmas video”. The idea is to win over the hearts of consumers and give the brand the much needed “media attention” and “social buzz” i.e. free advertising. That in turn leads to a stronger brand image and a surge in sales, as evident from the following holiday video case studies.
Case Study: Brands That Deployed A Brilliant Holiday Video Strategy
1. John Lewis: Big Investment (£7 million video), Bigger ROI (£100 million weekly sales).
When it comes to Christmas adverts, retail giant John Lewis does it best (and probably spends the most too, that is, up to £7 million).
Since 2007, John Lewis has been rolling out Christmas videos one after another, and in the process it has strengthened its brand image; I mean we have become quite used to a John Lewis Christmas advert and expect one every year, don’t we? Apparently, the creative video production team, with the years of practice, has also developed a knack of producing the perfect Christmas video as evident by its latest “Man On The Moon” 2015 advert which tells a tear-jerking story about a girl from earth making contact, via telescope, with an elderly man living on the moon all by himself.
The question however is how much ROI John does Lewis generate from that lavish £7 million Christmas advertising?
Well, to start with, it’s been reported that between 2009 and 2011, the video ads had helped John Lewis earn £1.07 billion in extra sales.
2012 ROI: The Journey Christmas Advert
The video strategy was all about going the extra mile to show love, and it’s portrayed in this 90-second tale of a snowman who sets on a journey (probably to a John Lewis store) in order to get a pretty little hat and a pair of gloves for his lovely snow-woman. The video increased the retailer’s online sales by 44.3%.
2013 ROI: “The Bear & The Hare” Animated Christmas Advert
While most John Lewis adverts are live action recordings, “The Bear & The Hare” Christmas tale (of a hare giving his bear buddy the best Christmas present) was the only one that’s done using a mix of 2D and 3D animation (because of the characters involved). The video alone cost £1 million and an extra £6 million were spend on tv slots.
Sales from animated Christmas video broke the £100m mark. This £7 million animated advert caused the week’s sale to touch £101.45 million, and that was only just the first week after the video released. Compared to the 2012 John Lewis advert, the bear and the hare video raised the sales by 10.7% more.
And, did I mention that the video got shared 200,000 times in the first 24 hours of its launch, and became the “most shared on the day of its launch” video of that year? Talk about viral! (However, the next Christmas advert from John Lewis would break this record.)
2014 ROI: “Monty & The Penguin” Christmas Advert
After the bear and hare, John Lewis next launched a penguin advert. Within 24 hours of its release, the penguin video was shared 202,953 times trumping over previous year’s “The bear & the hare” advert (200,000 times) for the title of the “most shared on the day of its launch” video.
It ignited a social buzz with 14,500 people confessing that Monty the Penguin had them all teared up and boohoo. Besides the emotional hold, over 3,500 people also expressed a small wish that they too would like to own a penguin plush toy this Christmas. Don’t know about Santa but the retailer had expected the consumer behavior and was prepared beforehand with a horde of Monty penguin toys up on the shelves at a giveaway price of £95 each.
Ebay reports that the penguin related toys saw a 300% sales spur within hours of the video release. And, not just John Lewis, but other retailers selling penguin related merchandise also saw an abrupt spike in sales all thanks to the video.
About John Lewis’s Magical Christmas Videos:
Stories that tug at your heart strings, lovely characters, lovelier music, and that “going the extra mile to show love” theme are the common ingredients for John Lewis’s successful Christmas videos.
The first three Christmas videos, titled “The Shadow” (2007), “Love From Me To You” (2008) and “Sweet Child O Mine” (2009), albeit creative, were more of a product advertisement and didn’t resonate well with most viewers. It was from the fourth video “She’s Always A Woman” (2010) that John Lewis shifted the focus from product highlights to the human emotion that goes behind these festive session, and then tied it all up with a visual story and direction that is at par with the cinematic experience.
The fifth Christmas advert, “The Long Wait” (2011), set the standard for the new John Lewis videos. From then on, the theme has been along the lines of going the extra mile to express your love this Christmas and spread the festive cheer.
2. American Express: Small Business Saturday
The hidden ROI in this credit card giant’s noble act was to ultimately encourage small businesses to implement and accept Amex card facility at their stores.
Here’s how the idea of Small Business Saturday came into being.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the year’s biggest shopping holidays. But the problem was that people tend to buy only from big brands or giant retail stores, and, thus, the small businesses were at a loss.
So on 2010 American Express conceived a cultural movement by declaring the Saturday after Black Friday as the Small Business Saturday, a time for holiday shoppers and neighborhood people to shop in the local mom-and-pop stores on that day.
Thanks to the campaign, which was supported by Facebook, Twitter, and even Obama, the 2013th Small Business Saturday generated 5.7 billion in sales, and it’s probably just the start.
UK also took to the idea, and declared the first Saturday of December to be the Small Business Saturday; American Express is an active supporter of this campaign too.
The 2015 data reveals that the British consumers spent £623 million shopping over at small and local businesses, which is a 24% increase than last year’s. Further research shows that 48% of the people, who shopped small on that day spent more than they would usually.
3. WestJet Christmas Miracle: Goodwill & Free Advertising Worth Millions.
WestJet, Canada’s second largest airline service, must have some Santa blood in their brand’s veins. Thanks to the dedicated collaboration of 150 jolly WestJetter staff, WestJet was able to pull of a seemingly impossible Christmas stunt, making the 250 passengers once again believe in Christmas miracles. Watch the video, if you haven’t already.
Now the ROI from the Christmas Miracle video. Here’s what WestJet got back from giving:
Apparently, the company had expected only about 800,000 views from the undertaking but within a few days of its release, the video had received a whopping 13 million views.
“We’re pretty thrilled,” says Richard Bartem, the vice president of communications and community relations at WestJet.
b) Free Advertising Worth Millions
The VP of WestJet confided that “for a traditional commercial, you could spend well into the mid-six figures for the production alone” but their Christmas Miracle video, cost “a mere fraction” of that figure (John Lewis spends 1 million for the production of their Christmas commercial, a seven figure budget, and then spends another 6 million for booking tv slots). But WestJet’s Christmas Miracle managed to get their video seen by people from 200 different countries, and received attention from Huffington Post, Mashable and other big media without having to spend millions on tv slots.
c) YouTube Subscribers Growth
There’s also been a hike in WestJet’s YouTube channel subscribers. In just a matter of 3 days, the channel’s total subscribers increased from 3,700 to 12,000 people. That’s a 320% growth.
Another payoff is the goodwill that WestJet had received from the act of giving back to their customers. It’s a safe bet to assume that the people who had watched this Christmas Miracle would think about WestJet the next time they have to book a flight to Canada.
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