Photography and marketing lessons from 5 festive food ads

It's that time of year again, and of course every business owner wants to leverage the excitement surrounding Christmas. But how can you effectively add festive cheer to your brand? To kick us off and provide some ideas for Christmas 2014, here are five adverts from last Christmas's Observer Food Monthly magazine. It'll be interesting to see what strategy each company adopts this year.

1. Supermarket turkey: Exhibit A

A very elegant ad from Sainsbury's, beautifully styled and photographed.  Which is what you'd expect.

But what's also clever is how they've added emotion to the ad with "I love that moment..." and the images of kids. It's expressly designed to resonate with the audience's Christmas memories, in an attempt to link the brand to the ideal of a happy, family Christmas.

Things to think about: How does your target audience feel about Christmas? Can you express that in your marketing, so that it becomes about emotions and not just, "here's another festive product"?  Can you show pictures of people, like Sainsbury's does, and not just your product? And of course, this approach can work throughout the year; emotions occur year-round in all kinds of situations.

2. Supermarket turkey: Exhibit B

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Named farmer? Tick. Named breed of bird? Tick. “Happy” turkey? Tick. Lovely photography? Tick. A brand that encompasses all these foodie credentials? Oh.

All credit to Tesco for working to improve the image of its Finest range. But it's still Tesco, so how credible can an ad based entirely on food credentials be? Potentially, Tesco would have been far better off leaving this kind of mesage of M&S or Waitrose, and focusing on happiness like Sainsbury's does. Last year, Tesco's Christmas TV advertising was all about happy family times, so it's odd that the strategy was completely abandoned for the Finest range. After all, upmarket shoppers have families too.

Things to think about: Can your competitors do the thing that you're talking about better than you can? If so, it may be time to think of something different. And are your communications consistent? The audience reading the Observer may require a more upmarket execution than the audience reading the Sun, but try to find a common theme that links them, just like Sainsbury's does with the idea of family.

3. Ribena loses all semblance of reality

This is possibly the most bizarre advert I've seen for ages.  Is there a single household in the UK who would consider a Ribena bottle to be an appropriate centrepiece for their Christmas table? Possibly it's tongue-in-cheek, but I honestly can't see how the cute little berries balance out such a big fib of a headline.

Things to think about: Always be sure that your marketing is rooted in truth, and that your target audience will believe what you say. Otherwise, the results can be baffling.

4. Crabbies finds the middle ground

OK, so it's a bit boring. but this ad for Crabbies is jolly, festive and bright. And, unlike Ribena, it doesn't make outlandish claims.

While some thought obviously went into the Ribena ad, the concept behind this Crabbies ad was probably developed in about five minutes. But it's suitably festive and will potentially raise awareness of the brand. Shame there's no cranberry variant though, to really tie the brand to Christmastime.

Things to think about: Can you do a Christmas version of your product? It's something you can then communicate across the selling season. And one of my clients uses their limited editions as competition prizes in social media campaigns.


5. Lurpak goes premium

Lurpak have been building their food credentials for a while now. While there are more premium butters, Lurpak is arguably a brand of sufficient quality to act as a base for building these kind of credentials.

This ad is a continuation of other campaigns that they ran throughout the year. This kind of continuity helps to build a brand, but what's clever here is that the message has been tweaked to make it about Christmas. Without going mad with baubles, Lurpak have very elegantly inserted a subtle Christmas message. There's plenty of emotion there too, cleverly intertwined with the foodie theme. The only potential downside is that the ad requires you to stop and read it, and it doesn't leap off the page like the Crabbie's one. Perhaps a subtle piece of Christmas styling would help to make the ad slightly more Christmassy.

Things to think about: Is your brand a premium one? Can it be linked to an upmarket idea of Christmas that's about enjoyment rather than tinsel? And how can you communicate Christmassy-ness in a subtle, sophisticated way?

For more information on how we can help your business look great this Christmas, take a look at the different types of commercial photography we carry out, or browse our portfolio.

Posted by: Jane

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors, products and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.