Learn from these mistakes

It’s reported that, each year, John Lewis spends around £7 million producing and marketing its Christmas advert.  While this usually pays off, big budget doesn’t always guarantee a return on investment. Here are three marketing campaigns that fell flat during the festive season. 

By Jessica Phillips, senior account executive at Stone Junction.

Branding is everything

During Christmas 2011, Coca-Cola introduced white cans to raise funds and awareness for the conservation of polar bears. Despite its best intentions, the cans looked too similar to the silver Diet Coke cans that were available at the same time.

After complaints from customers, Coca-Cola recalled the product and replaced it with its signature red cans, highlighting the importance of consistent branding.

Don’t replicate ideas

Every Christmas, millions of people in Japan celebrate with a KFC, a tradition created thanks to a marketing stunt by Takeshi Okawara, the manager of Japan’s first KFC. Back in the UK, I can’t image many households opt for a family bucket on December 25, but if they did, the company’s 2013 advert will have put paid to the idea.

The advert was supposed to result in feelings of togetherness, but left its audience wincing at the out of sync audio and poor acting. If you want your marketing campaign to be a success, it’s always best to consider your audience first — festive fried chicken just doesn’t hit the spot for us Brits.

Keep the customer in mind

A few years ago, Tesco used the run-up to Christmas to promote its ‘Big Price Drop’ campaign. However, the supermarket failed to generate consumer interest, resulting in a £5 million loss. This highlighted that buying cheap items isn’t always a consumer priority at Christmas.

Instead, brands should use their Christmas marketing budget to generate an ideology that their customers can relate to.

More recently, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer have learned from Tesco’s mistakes by producing marketing campaigns that create empathy. But, it’s not just consumer brands that should consider this method.

B2B brands can impress their customers by keeping them in mind at this time of year. Go the extra step by sending a personalised Christmas card to your current and potential clients. Make sure it doesn’t appear as a sales letter though — a simple logo and photo of the team will suffice.

For more information on creating PR and marketing campaigns that change minds, get in touch with Stone Junction on 01785 225416 or e-mail us at sayhello@stonejunction.co.uk.


Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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