From Coca-Cola to John Lewis, Christmas ads over the years have tugged at our heart strings and thawed our weary cynicism with a potent blend of cosy nostalgia and festive magic.
As the world faces the prospect of a long winter under renewed pandemic restrictions, 2020 needs that annual injection of seasonal positivity more than ever.
COVID-19 has taken a hammer-blow to the creative industries, whether that’s clients slashing budgets or cancelling projects altogether; furloughed and redundant team members; or a sudden drought in freelance commissions.
The Dots community is over half-a-million strong, 41% of whom are freelance. “Even before lockdown, we got early warning signs of the impact of Covid as their work started to dry up,” reveals founder Pip Jamieson. “Heartbreakingly since then, our community has gone through waves of furloughing and increasingly redundancies.”
I think it’s our collective responsibility to support talented people that have fallen on hard times and are struggling to make ends meet
In June, the Creative Industries Federation reported that almost 50,000 UK advertising jobs (26%) could be lost in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, with advertising spend expected to drop by £4 billion (17%) overall.
A new joint initiative from Pinterest and The Dots provides a much-needed paid opportunity for young creatives affected by the pandemic, challenging them to ‘reimagine Christmas’ through the lens of top brands – contributing positive vibes to an otherwise difficultbrutal climate in the process.
Representing a broad range of different sectors, the brands involved include British Airways, Baileys, Topshop, Birds Eye, MADE.COM and Sony Music.
“I think it’s our collective responsibility to support talented people that have fallen on hard times and are struggling to make ends meet,” says Jamieson. “If brands deploy their budgets to support talent at the grassroots, they’ll build strong and loyal customers forever.”
This holiday season gives us the opportunity to drive positive change for our communities and the world we live in
Ray Murphy is Head of Content for MADE.COM, one of the participating brands. “The pandemic has had a huge impact on the livelihoods of many creatives in our sector,” he says. “We’d like to play our part in supporting our communities in these challenging times.”
Seeds of Change is another of the brands involved. “This holiday season gives us the opportunity to drive positive change for our communities and the world we live in,” agrees Armando Reyes, Strategic Initiatives Director at parent brand Mars Food.
“The pandemic has left many talented people within the creative industry temporarily disengaged and underutilised,” Reyes continues. “This project enables us to be a positive seed that creates an opportunity within the industry.”
Unlike most other creative contests, Reimagining Christmas provides a development budget. 20 shortlisted entrants are paid to spend a day developing their ideas. From that point, the top 10 concepts then receive an additional three days’ budget to put those ideas into practice.
The very best ads capture the values of the Christmas spirit through the art of storytelling. Specifically, stories that highlight or foster a real connection between people
In effect, it’s a rare win-win opportunity for 10 individual creatives to undertake paid creative pitches to leading brands – and to get that work showcased to the creative community even if they don’t win the account.
“As we all know, pitches aren’t usually paid, so this is a lovely way to hopefully get our community more work while simultaneously getting some much-needed cash in their pocket,” adds Jamieson.
Over and above providing a short stint of welcome paid work at a time when such opportunities are scarce, Reimagining Christmas is also a catalyst for genuinely feel-good creative – at a time when all of us need it most.
“The very best ads capture the values of the Christmas spirit through the art of storytelling,” says Anna Charalambous, Global Social Media Lead at Mars Food. “Specifically, stories that highlight or foster a real connection between people.”
There is so much creativity and deeper levels of engagement you can build if you understand the tools and formats available
And in a year in which much of the world has abruptly shifted to run remotely, and we all crave those moments of connection, it’s fitting that an inspiration platform such as Pinterest provides the environment for it all to happen.
Now more than ever, people need inspiration and advertisers need inspired customers. Pinterest is delivering both by creating a more positive place on the internet with unique, decision-oriented opportunities for marketers to engage consumers – from standalone formats such as videos or Promoted Pins, to more advanced functionality such as AI-enabled pin extensions. Pinterest is the ideal environment for creatives to inspire decisions for thoughtful gift-giving this Christmas with compelling ad campaigns.
“The majority of Christmas campaigns will be delivered digitally this year,” Jamieson points out. “Brands tend to create their campaigns for traditional mediums first, like TV, and digital mediums are an afterthought. But there is so much creativity and deeper levels of engagement you can build if you understand the tools and formats available.”
I think the current state of the world gives brands much more to think about. Challenging times can result in brilliant ideas and innovations
After the year that 2020 has been, it’s going to be tough for brands to nail the right tone and message in their festive campaigns. As well as supporting the industry with paid work, the initiative also encourages fresh, inspiring perspectives on the topic.
“The festive period is one of those rare times when people genuinely look forward to seeing what ads brands have put out,” Murphy points out. “They often find their way into the conversation around the dinner table.”
He recalls reading a Pinterest insight report a few months after the pandemic hit: “It said events like Christmas will have ‘more meaning than ever’. I completely agree.”
“In the past, the most popular ads have tended to play on nostalgia, family dynamics in the days before Christmas, and, for younger audiences, uplifting fairytale-style stories,” Murphy continues. “However, I think the current state of the world gives brands much more to think about. Challenging times can result in brilliant ideas and innovations.”
Pinterest’s wealth of creative formats, from breakthrough video to story pins makes it the perfect playground for creative storytelling. To unlock the unique benefits of creative execution on Pinterest, access the Creative Agency Advertising Guide here