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Christmas ad watch: students get digital

By Emma Reid - Posted on 14 December 2016

The Christmas ads by some of our biggest stores are something many look forward to seeing. But do they serve their purpose and engage with customers in the way they are intended? Some of our Marketing students analysed the ads.

Every year anticipation builds around one key event – the launch of the new John Lewis Christmas Campaign. So what better subject to give our fourth year Digital Marketing Honours students than an analysis of this launch, and the opportunity for them to review public feedback and offer suggestions for improving this live campaign.

This semester our students have benefited from experiencing a variety of academic and practical lectures. Led by Dr Andrea Tonner and Dr Nusa Fain, the students have participated in a number of sessions from industry leaders including small business owners, marketing agencies and alcohol brands. For the final seminar of the year it was my turn, wearing my industry hat to discuss the benefits of social media evaluation for large organisations.

My session began with some discussions around the purpose and benefits of social media for large B2B organisations, and some practical examples around different evaluation techniques and measures for success. We then moved on to working on a real-life campaign, analysing the success of the John Lewis campaign by analysing use of the hashtag #BustertheBoxer, a humorous campaign involving Buster, the family pet dog who beats his excited owners to be the first to play on the brand new trampoline.

At the time of the class, the John Lewis campaign had been running for a week with a mixed response online. I used the Brandwatch Analytics Tool to gather online data on the hashtags #BustertheBoxer and created charts and graphs to demonstrate the volume of conversations around the hashtag, the sentiment around the hashtags and main topics discussed.

The students then took on the role of an agency advising John Lewis on how they could improve the campaign in the lead up to Christmas. Students were then asked to use the data, combined with their own background research into the campaign, news articles and any other sources, to provide a mid-campaign evaluation. Each group of students then delivered a short pitch with ideas including developing interactive YouTube campaigns, associating with relevant animal charities and setting up trampolines for dogs in keeping with the theme of the advert.

As this session formed part of a theoretical discussion on the importance of evaluating campaigns, it gave our students an opportunity to understand how online data can be used to evaluate a campaign and identify any issues almost in real time, allowing organisations to make any necessary changes to ensure the success of a planned campaign. The importance of evaluating campaigns and combining online and offline research is of priority in industry. The IPA (the Institute of Practitioners in Marketing) and MRS (Market Research Society) for example have come together to help to form definitions of good practice in social media effectiveness and measurement (#IPASocialWorks).

Therefore, providing students with these opportunities in class, while combining the practical knowledge with marketing theory, will help our students in understanding this importance and relevance of this type of work for the agencies and industry of the future.

What did you think of the Christmas adverts this year? Do they serve their purpose or do they miss the mark?



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