Charlotte Street Partners



Advertising a Christmas like no other

Written by Ralitsa Bobcheva, associate
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
22 December 2020

Good morning,

For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been a focal point for marketeers across the globe. I can still recall that as a child, it was not the first snow or advent calendars, but the arrival of Coca Cola’s iconic red truck on TV, a legacy from their 1995 “Holidays are coming” ad, which truly marked the beginning of the annual festive season for me.

Most advertisers would agree that the basic ingredients for great Christmas TV campaigns are always the same: emotive messages, togetherness and festive spirit. The festive advertising hype built over the years has gradually turned into an epic advertising battle, with big brands spending big budgets in anticipation of the festive season.

This Christmas, with some companies having struggled more than others due to the pandemic, advertising budgets were expected to be considerably smaller. And few were surprised when, in October, the Advertising Association and WARC UK forecasted that advertisers will cut £725m from their marketing budgets in the run-up to Christmas this year.

And yet, despite smaller budgets and the need to balance between addressing this year without serving as a disheartening reminder of its challenges, advertisers have found new ways to reach audiences. Research by Kantar shows that among the key factors to effective festive ads this year have been meaningful engagement, simplicity, humour and positive action on diversity and inclusivity.

Crucially, the key takeaways from this year’s Christmas advertising cement the importance of a key marketing trend over the past twelve months: brand authenticity. It also shows that the brands which have managed to earn people’s attention have been those which tapped into various aspects of 2020’s zeitgeist through a different lens and creativity.

The question is, could these core values continue to gain momentum well into 2021? The growing number of values-conscious consumers who look at the social purpose of the brands they interact with makes a convincing case for it. And this is one if the things that I would certainly add to my next Christmas wish list.


The European Medicines Agency has given green light to the use of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine after finding evidence that it is safe and effective. Countries in the European Union will be able to start rolling out coronavirus jabs within a week after the EU regulator approved the use of the vaccine.

According to a new report, Mexico was the most dangerous country in the world for journalists in 2020, accounting for almost a third of journalists killed this year. The Committee to Protect Journalists, which investigates attacks against the press, has found that nine journalists were killed in Mexico in 2020, bringing the death toll to 120 in the last two decades.

More than 40 countries have barred UK arrivals over a new variant of the coronavirus spreading in the UK, as the EU held talks on agreeing a common policy. WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan has said that new strains were a normal part of the development of a pandemic and said that it was not “out of control”.

Business and economy

The US Congress has passed the long-awaited $900bn deal for coronavirus aid, with president Donald Trump expected to sign the package into law. The package includes direct payments for Americans in need of financial aid, support for businesses and unemployment programmes, and will accompany another $1.4tn spending bill to fund government operations over the next nine months.

Following a difficult period of negotiations, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has reportedly made a major counter-offer on fishing access for EU fleets in British waters to break the Brexit trade talks deadlock, raising hopes of a deal before Christmas. The UK demand for a 60% reduction in the catch by value in British waters has reportedly been reduced far closer to the 25% reduction that Frost’s EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, had said he would be prepared to accept, according to EU sources.

Downing Street is in ongoing discussions with the French government on reopening full trade and transport across the Channel after France closed its border with the UK for 48 hours on Sunday night, over the new variant of Covid-19 spreading across the UK. According to Sky News sources, details of a plan could be announced as early as today.

Columns of note

In the Financial Times, Sarah O’Connor looks back to the last ten months of homeworking and its major downside: the lack of opportunities for building social capital, especially for employees at the beginning of their career. In many ways, however, homeworking has already managed to transform working culture for the better, O’Connor argues. (£)

One year after SARS-CoV-2 was first identified by Chinese scientists, social epidemiologist Dr Nicholas Christakis delves into history to predict the future in a post-Covid world. Writing in the Guardian, Jessica Glenza turns to some of his key predictions for the ‘roaring 20s’: full stadiums, packed nightclubs and flourishing arts.

Cartoon source: The Telegraph


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in negative territory yesterday, with the FTSE 100 ending the session down 1.73% at 6,416.32, and the FTSE 250 falling 2.11% at 19,962.11. Тhe pound was 1.27% weaker against the dollar to last trade at $1.3351, and slid 0.82% on the euro to €1.0921.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.12%, to 30,216.45, the S&P 500 fell 0.39%, to 3,694.92 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.1%, to 12,742.52.

In company news:

Fashion group Boohoo has appointed PKF Littlejohn as its new auditor after PwC quit following allegations of poor factory conditions in their supply chain in Leicester earlier this year.

Royal Dutch Shell is set to write down the value of oil and gas assets by $3.5bn to $4.5bn as it adjusts to a weaker outlook.

Apple is reportedly planning to start producing its own electric car with a ‘breakthrough battery’ in four years, following a years-long effort to enter the market.

What’s happening today?


Alternative Liq
Jupiter Us Sml
Mineral & Fin
Mosman Oil Gas
Rev Bars

UK economic announcements
(06:00) Public Sector Net Borrowing
(07:00) Gross Domestic Product

Int economic announcements
(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)
(13:30) Gross Domestic Product (US)
(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
(15:00) Existing Home Sales (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Many people will tell you that the modern Santa is dressed in red because of a Coca Cola’s advertising in the 1930s but history shows that Claus has been portrayed wearing shades of ruby, vermilion, and burgundy as early as the 1860s – about 70 years before Coca-Cola developed its iconic image of St Nick.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

In recess until 7 January

House of Lords 

In recess until 7 January

Scottish Parliament 

Time for Reflection

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

Topical Questions (if selected)

Ministerial Statement: COVID-19

Stage 3 Proceedings: UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill

Committee Announcements

Business Motions

Parliamentary Bureau Motions

Decision Time

Members’ Business — S5M-23242 Keith Brown: The £20 Universal Credit Increase

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