What B2B marketers can learn from the 2021 Christmas adverts

Everyone loves a good Christmas advert and this year hasn’t disappointed! But what can B2B marketers learn from the 2021 Christmas adverts in terms of the approach big commercial enterprises use to drive up sales? Let’s dive into three of our favourite Christmas adverts to find out.

2021 Christmas adverts – Aldi 

Aldi store

The 2021 Aldi Christmas advert certainly tops our favourites this year!

The opening scene bears the title ‘A Christmas Carrot’, and the advert parodies Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, using fruits and vegetables as the characters. Mean-spirited ‘Ebanana’ Scrooge is shown what Christmas can really be like, being presented with a table bedecked with delicious-looking Christmas food items, all courtesy of Aldi!

Exhortations to be kind are peppered throughout, and Marcus Rashford who’s ‘always helping children’ kicks a pea into a vegetable barrow goal, marked with the Neighbourly branding – a charity which helps businesses donate surplus stock to those in need.

Most significant of all is the voiceover catchphrase, tactically placed at the conclusion of the advert to leave viewers with a more profound parting thought after an otherwise fairly trivial bit of fun.

‘For you to be happy, you need to be kind.’ Just underneath this, a statement appears onscreen ‘Donating £1.8M to families in need this Christmas.’

It’s a theme that’s a clear pulse throughout the year, from footballer Marcus Rashford’s charity endeavours through to various high-profile efforts to de-stigmatise mental health. How many times this year have you seen a Facebook post, t-shirt slogan or celebrity talking about the need to ‘be kind?’

Aldi is reminding viewers of this highly emotive concept, to send a clear message to consumers. Not only will they be able to find great Christmas food items at knock-down prices, they’ll also be buying from a retailer that gives something back to those who need it most at Christmas, the season of goodwill.

It’s a known fact that memories are more firmly imprinted into people’s minds if they have an emotion attached to them, and Aldi is using this concept to maximum effect in its marketing this Christmas. It’s fair to say that people will naturally prefer to support a company that shows emotional intelligence as well as business savvy. And the same goes for B2B marketing.

Anything that demonstrates the human side of your business in a professional light is a major selling point for prospective clients. This could be the charities you support, your sustainability commitments, or even how you treat your customers as evidenced by testimonials or reviews, and so on. Behind every decision-maker is a real person who cares about other people and causes or issues that matter to them. some of that shine through in your approach to marketing.

2021 Christmas adverts – John Lewis 

John Lewis Store

This one’s is a bit of a departure from the usual style of John Lewis Christmas adverts. It follows the story of an alien coming to earth and experiencing some of the highlights of the Christmas season for the first time, with the help of a little boy, who finds the alien in the woods.

The advert appeals to many different emotions and involves the themes of friendship, family, sharing and loss, as well as touches of humour to break up what’s otherwise quite a sentimental few minutes.

John Lewis products are not directly marketed onscreen. Instead, the advert is subtle, but uses the time-honoured technique of repetition, to reinforce a message in people’s minds. However, in this case, the reminders are not of a repeated marketing message. But viewers are reminded about what Christmas was like as a child, and what special moments feel like the first time around. There is a sense of nostalgia and retro to it all, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of the 80s film E.T. This is likely to strike a chord most with people now in their 30s and 40s, who will be focussing on making Christmas special for their own children this year.

There’s a lot to be learnt from the approach John Lewis takes here. It’s subtle, but that means it has the potential to be much more powerful than an obvious sales ploy. The advert appeals to a deeper part of the conscience or inner person than a more surface-level ‘get out there and spend’ message, so it’s likely to hit potential customers on a deeper emotional level and stick in their minds more.

When it comes to using this approach in B2B marketing, think along the lines of your own audience’s online experience through social media posts and digital marketing. Look at who you are targeting people’s ages, backgrounds, their family status, their business sectors, solutions and challenges and what type of messages appeal to them – what matters the most and craft your marketing to appeal to all of these things. Sharing more personable details or activities from your team makes you human and relatable and interesting than pure business-related information.

2021 Christmas adverts – Argos 

parcel delivery for christmas

This years’ Argos Christmas advert is only one minute long, but it packs in the punches and has a quick, exciting feel to it. Like Aldi and John Lewis, Argos uses emotive tactics, but with a different angle.

If you only have a short time to sell your brand to somebody, whatever takes place during that time has to be memorable. The Argos advert is crammed full of impact, unexpected surprises and special effects, and clearly gets the message across that shopping at Argos will help make this Christmas a truly unforgettable and fun one.

The opening scene is of a newsreader announcing that ‘Christmas is on. And it’s going to be a big one.’ The fact that Christmas is ‘back on’ this year is already heavily in the minds of the public after the events of Christmas in 2020. And Argos is reminding people of this, and spurring them on to make it better than ever this time. We also see a girl watching the news announcement and giving an expression as if she’s plotting something. This creates intrigue, so people viewing are more likely to continue watching to find out what happens.

There are lessons to be drawn for B2B marketers even from these opening seconds. The news announcement gives an official feeling to the ‘Christmas is on’ statement and the plotting girl draws viewers in to find out more. We can apply the same principles by bringing teasers into our marketing material and crafting headlines, mailers and social media posts that create intrigue by giving only part of the information, but doing so in a confident and informed way. This can involve using statistics, or bold, even controversial statements that are difficult to ignore.

As the advert moves on, we see crowds of people gathering for a party, a boy circling items in the Argos catalogue and delighted family members opening gifts. There’s a definite family feel to the advert, and of course for many people Christmas is all about being with family, so again, Argos is appealing to people’s emotions in order to tap into their spending power.

We get one last repeat of the ‘Christmas is on’ message at the end, when we see the plotting girl organise a Christmas lights switch on. Her entire tower block is suddenly festooned with lights, and a massive flashing one reads ‘baubles to last year, Christmas is on.’ Finally, the message, ‘Life’s here, Be ready’, followed by the Argos logo flashes onto the screen, leaving the viewer in no doubt as to what they need to do.

Rather than the charitable, help others in need approach that was taken by Aldi, the message from Argos is ‘go for it’ – spend, enjoy, make it bigger and better than ever. In essence Argos is saying ‘you need to shop with us to make your family happy this Christmas.’ And likewise, when it comes to marketing your own business, our advice is to go for it in 2022! If you know you’ve got what your future clients need, then don’t hesitate to make that clear. Use the unexpected, pack in the punches and appeal to the values and emotions of the people you’re trying to reach.