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Retailers bank on festive ads to fatten up Christmas sales

Fashion multiples are hoping their Christmas advertising campaigns will kick-start winter sales, after October trading collapsed.
River Island, John Lewis, Debenhams and Next all gave Drapers a sneak preview of their festive ad campaigns this week. Several retailers said the success of the ads would be crucial to rescue their winter sales, which have nosedived over the past four weeks.

John Lewis will launch a TV ad on Monday – only its second ever Christmas TV campaign. It will run for six weeks on TV, in print, online, at cinemas and on billboards and posters. The campaign has cost £6.2 million, more than triple last year’s spend, and features a range of the retailer’s merchandise, including some fashion lines.

Debenhams has abandoned TV advertising this Christmas, but will launch a series of 11 print ads tomorrow. One of the ads features models wearing ballgowns and dinner suits in a ballroom setting.

Next’s TV campaign borrows from its autumn ad theme and is a key part of the huge marketing push it launched in September. It features models switching party clothes as they head off for a night out in Edinburgh. The soundtrack is provided by Louis Armstrong’s Cool Yule.

Meanwhile, River Island has overhauled its print ads in time for Christmas, with new imagery featuring glamorous party images.

Littlewoods said it had extended its Trinny and Susannah Christmas TV ad to run until the end of December. It features the duo stealing Santa’s sleigh and attempting to escape with his presents, as well as giving him style advice.

Retailers traditionally keep their Christmas campaign details under lock and key, but even Marks & Spencer executive director for marketing Steven Sharp gave Drapers a taster of what would appear on screens this Christmas. He confirmed the ad would feature Hollywood star Antonio Banderas and said: “We are aiming to be as eye-catching and glamorous as the Shirley Bassey campaign last year.”
M&S is due to preview its ad campaign when it reveals its half-year results on November 6.

Multiples told Drapers it was essential that the Christmas ad campaigns tempted shoppers back to the high street to buy partywear and early gifts if the autumn season was to be saved.

Footfall fell 2.4% during October against the previous year, which has added to retailers’ woes. High-ticket coats and boots have also been slow to shift because of mild temperatures.

One young fashion boss said he was concerned about Christmas because autumn sales had been hampered by a lack of clear trends, coupled with mild weather. He said: “I’m not expecting any great sparks this Christmas. The usual suspects will be cutting and running and going on Sale early, but there will be some more party business to be had because of the glamorous looks.

“There is quite a strong smart trend in store at the moment, but this is far removed from shoppers’ normal wardrobes and they are confused by it – they have been wearing casual for years now.”

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