But there is an issue John Lewis is having to grapple with. Since the phenomenal success of The Long Wait, every other retailer has aggressively ripped off the John Lewis Christmas ad formula, to the extent that sitting through an ITV commercial break in November or December is essentially five to seven minutes of a never-ending loop of present giving, animated animals or food and once-popular songs turned into emotional piano ballads.

With the TV ad market so saturated, businesses will have to look elsewhere to spread Christmas cheer and attract customers. One route is influencer marketing, a channel that has cemented its value in marketers’ budgets, particularly since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Part of this channel’s appeal for brands is down to more people simply consuming far more digital and social media content during various lockdowns worldwide – searching for information, entertainment, and distraction. The increasing ROI offered by influencer marketing shouldn’t be overlooked. Into the Mainstream: Influencer marketing in society, surveyed over 3,500 consumers, marketers, and influencers across the UK, US, and Germany, and found a quarter (25%) of 16-24-year-olds said Instagram was the most likely advertising platform to lead them to purchase something, while almost two-thirds (60%) of marketers say that influencer marketing provides better ROI for brand marketing campaigns compared with traditional advertising.

Influencer marketing requires work

However, influencer marketing is not as easy as just posting an image on social media. When it comes to planning your influencer marketing campaign this Christmas, it’s important for brands to consider several important factors, not least campaign objectives, brand perception, authenticity, and the preferred social media platforms of the target demographic from Instagram to Twitch.

The latter point is particularly important when you consider that consumers have very specific expectations of the type of content they like to see on each app. Across all three markets, consumers perceived Instagram as more aspirational and informative than TikTok. Whereas consumers have been turning to TikTok in droves since the start of the pandemic to seek escapism, which the platform caters very well. Three out of five (60%) marketers agreed that TikTok is the most creative channel, and consumers considered it more escapist and entertaining than Instagram as well.

One brand that understands the need to adapt to each platform is Gymshark. While Gymshark’s influencer activity wasn’t based around the holiday season, their success does offer a lot of insights for any brands looking to activate in the coming months. Instead of simply designing content without creator input, Gymshark specifically selected a handful of fitness influencers and turned them into brand ambassadors, thus giving them natural advocacy and genuine affinity for the clothes.

By adopting this approach, the brand was able to diversify its content across various platforms and ensure its creators translated their brand message in their own unique tone of voice their followers liked.

Apply your strategy to Christmas

When it comes to Christmas social campaigns, the gold standard is Spotify Wrapped. The two-part marketing campaign – which involves OOH via several humorous billboards looking back on yearly musical trends and an individual event, in which subscribers receive their personalised-listening data from the past 11-months – has dominated social media during the Christmas period.

Alongside the above activations, Spotify also creates Wrapped graphics for the musicians on its platform to share with their fans, revealing just how many listeners they had across how many different countries, and how many total hours those fans had spent streaming their music – along with some fun facts.

By using both celebrities and social media users, the campaign turns millions of people into organic Spotify influencers and ambassadors as they share their graphics and music favourites across social media.

With the success of the John Lewis ad leading to a saturation in the TV market at Christmas time, brands will need to explore alternative channels to engage consumers. Influencer marketing, when done correctly, can help bands reach hard-to-access groups and allow them to communicate their brand messaging in the unique and engaging tone of creators.

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