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It’s time for brands to get that festive feeling

Do you feel that festive buzz? Are you readying to hunker down by the fire, mulled wine in hand to watch a duvet of snow engulf the pavements, transforming them into feathery fairy tale perfection? Of course you’re not – it’s July, and even in the midst of a never-ending pandemic, and with no seasonal weather cues in sight, you still know summer from your elbow.

But for us PRers, much like the good Father Christmas himself, the festive season is a year-long consideration, neigh, way of life. With the 1st of July so comes the six-month count-down to Christmas, typically the busiest season in any PR calendar. With this in mind, here at Lucre we’ve complied a naughty and nice list of tips and tricks to tee up the perfect Christmas campaign.

Christmas in a pandemic

The pandemic persists, and though we hoped to be well out of it last Christmas, it looks here to stay for a little longer, and so it needs to be a primary consideration when preparing Christmas campaigns – whether it may be the very practical matter of ‘will my event fall in the middle of a lockdown?’, to discouraging gatherings and being prepared to move everything online. It is also worth critically contemplating the tone of voice adopted by a campaign and accurately reading the temperature of your demographic given the world right now – Christmas may not be the jolliest of emissaries for many this year. A sombre and aware tone is important. But equally this may well be a post-pandemic Christmas so don’t be shy to join the celebration and giving it your all. There’s a fine line to tread, but is that not what we’re here for?

Flexibility is going to be critical this year, along with having solid back-up plans that are ready to go should other plans be cancelled. If your Christmas pitch falls flat due to another lockdown then you want something on the backburner, or a campaign that will work equally well online as it does in person. The abundance of heavily choreographed Christmas ads, taught with in-house rivalry and antagonism betwixt brands is always a high point of the festive season, and rather carried last year’s campaigns. The thought that lockdowns would have ended by December was important in spirit, but did leave everyone scrambling. This year engaging online campaigns and creative solutions needs to bridge the bridge the two-metre gap to ensure the season is utilised properly.

The pandemic may have changed your demographic, and their behaviours. It’s worth considering the price and cost when it comes to your Christmas offering; disposable income has decreased for most throughout this time, so offering more affordable options along with experiences will be key. In the same vein of understanding your customer, remember that last year’s data is going to be heavily skewed by the pandemic, so do look over five years’ worth of data and assess the average. Perhaps your key demographic hasn’t been affected by the pandemic, in fact, they’re spending more than ever. It’s more likely than not that their behaviour will have been affected in some way, and re-examining the last five years is a good way to predict what’s coming and get an approximation of the best direction to take a campaign in.

This year, due to the uncertainty of the world and the constant lockdown pendulum from which we oscillate, Christmas in July has been postponed for many until October, so if you are looking to host events for journalists or influencers to experience your Christmas offering first-hand, then it’s worth bearing in mind.

Christmas not in a pandemic (can you remember one?)

Pandemic, shmamdemic. Some classic Christmas in July prep never changes. The first sage tip that we’re all to ready to ignore is to plan further in advance than you think you’ll need. There are always so many moving parts to line-up, and with the added time-suck of a pandemic, leave yourself room to be flexible and ready to meet any changes head on.

Investing in evocative photography is another vital asset to any Christmas arsenal. Last year lockdown after lockdown had many brands limping on the crutch of stock imagery or moving into animation. This year snatch any moments of mobility and get some images ready to go. If everything moves online, it will allow you to utilise social and get an edge on the competition.

As always, consider product placements now – when will the long leads you want to secure be pulling together Christmas pages, product reviews and the like? Why not get some mailers in the post and start locking down coverage? An early Christmas gift to yourself really…

Finally, how are you going to stand out on social? With or without a pandemic, social media is really the fulcrum of a successful campaign in today’s climate. With Instagram essentially a Tetris cube of monotonous advertising, standing out and engaging with your audience is key.

And remember, if you didn’t follow sage tip number one and leave yourself enough time, there are always ways to create engaging material by upcycling evergreen content into graphics, piggybacking current trends and garnering quick wins off them. Host contests and give-aways, hit the stories hard – and never overlook influencers!