January 13, 2021 COVID-19 Christmas ad campaigns – Avion’s winners and losers

By Ali Pinch

Mario Lopez as Col Sanders in KFC Christmas ad

Christmas campaigns are usually an opportunity for over-the-top sappy messaging, and blow-out budgets. However, in 2020 brands had to rethink how they spread the festive love for a COVID-19 Christmas. According to a poll by Truman films, 63% of consumers surveyed thought brands shouldn’t have spent lavish money on Christmas campaigns for 2020. That’s why getting the balance right between the feel-good messaging and budget spent can really make or break a COVID-era Christmas campaign. As judged by us at Avion Communications, here are the best and most poorly executed campaign stories from a COVID-19 Christmas.

The winners

David Jones: The home of Christmas for 182 years

While online shopping flourished, COVID-19 put the final nail in the bricks-and-mortar coffin for many retailers. Despite this, in a homage to its 182-year Elizabeth Street Christmas windows tradition, David Jones reminds us that it really is the home of Australian Christmas. The messaging? While times can change, the magic of Christmas will always stay the same.

ALDI: Go full Christmas

Christmas advertising in Australia has become synonymous with ALDI, which is known for its hilarious feel-good campaigns. In 2020, in an effort to bring some festive fun to Aussies who may be doing it tough, they released an ad featuring 8 synchronised swimming Santas showcasing ALDI’s Christmas range. The message? You can still go full out on Christmas after COVID-19, even on a budget.

Amazon: The show must go on

Amazon has managed to pull off a tear-jerker, tugging on the community spirit of COVID-19. The ad takes us on the journey of a young ballerina whose show was cancelled due to the pandemic. Her sister rallies the neighbourhood for a community concert where she performs the Swan Lake atop a snowy rooftop (grab the tissues) to lift her spirits. The message? As the ad title says, even if we’ve had a rough year, the show must go on.

The losers

Coles: Value the Australian way

The Coles Christmas campaign had all the ingredients you’d expect: diversity, family moments and classic Christmas food. And that’s the problem. Campaigns like these spread festive spirit, but we believe that Coles failed to adapt their messaging to a COVID world, spurting out yet another moments-based Christmas story.

KFC: A recipe for seduction

KFC went… well, full KFC. In a 15-minute mini-movie featured on the Lifetime channel, a young heiress falls for her chef, Colonel Sanders (played by Mario Lopez), and his secret blend of herbs and spices. We can understand KFC may be trying to make people smile this year, but the mega-production and budget are a bit twitchy in a COVID-era, where overspending can be seen as tone-deaf.

Getting your messaging right in a COVID-era

Curating a message that speaks to your audience during COVID-19 can be a delicate balance. Too much can project an image of being ungenuine and too little can show audiences your inability to adapt. At Avion, we’re experts at finding that perfect sweet spot for your branded communications. Get in touch with us today to see how we can make your story sing.