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McCann’s Global Head of Retail Effectiveness talks Xmas Ads

McCann Manchester is behind some of the biggest headline-grabbing ads of recent of years, not least Kevin the Carrot for Aldi.

So, we asked Jamie Peate, the agency’s Global Head of Retail Effectiveness if he could put his allegiances to one side and take us through us some of his favourite campaigns so far.

And in case you’re wondering, this isn’t a period of chilling out, now that the big commercials are already on air:

“We never stop working on Christmas, it’s a 365 day job, next year’s brief is already in progress,” he explained.

Given the cost of living crisis this year and that you have to get campaigns ready so early, has messaging had to change?

“There is an important tension that is always there and is even more pronounced this year. We have to avoid being tone deaf and be really empathetic to the real challenges that almost everyone is facing. However, we also need to recognise that Christmas should be a time when we have some fun, enjoy time with friends and family, and get a little respite from the darkness that has been so prominent this year.

“Getting that balance right is very difficult and takes a lot of thought, experience, and creativity. Where do you pitch your work on the Elf – Grinch Christmas scale?

“The importance of sharing is the most important thing to recognise, from the cost of Christmas, to being together, to helping each other out – that’s this year’s sweet spot (and is probably the sweet spot for every year).

Hand on heart what are your favourite campaigns this year – agency loyalties to one side?

“So far, I would have to say:

“Waitrose – good idea (time for the good stuff/when the food is good you feel good), good song (Depeche Mode – spot on for the audience), good tone of voice, great production values. This is a brand that knows what it is and who it appeals to.

“Secondly, Amazon, great use of a great tune (In My Life – The Beatles), right side of sentimental, shares a brand truth (you can easily get anything), made me like Amazon despite myself.”

Have you seen a theme this year?

“There is a very obvious theme this year – don’t feel trapped by the tradition of the perfect Christmas which can be expensive, do it your way. This is of course true, we all have our own Christmas traditions both old and new, from staying in your pyjamas all day, to eating exactly what you want etc, but ….. and it is a big but, new traditions don’t make old traditions bad – there’s room for it all.

“The most important thing is that we all do it together and that’s where the joy really is.”

Which ad/brand surprised you the most?

“Lidl surprised me as I didn’t think we had racoons in the UK – some must have escaped 😊”

And in your honest opinion – what did you think of the John Lewis ad?

“Really lovely idea, telling a heartwarming story, I’d challenge the music, I think we would have had more fun with ‘Snapper’ to make it more charming (cooking dinner and eating the turkey etc). 

“But, overall a good job and let us not forget this is possibly the hardest gig in the industry to take on, as the nation eagerly awaits this campaign.”

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