What would your Christmas advert be?

Nov 14th, 2023


Christmas adverts are back on our screens. Businesses spend most of the year planning them because, unlike normal adverts, they are not actually selling products, they are telling stories that are designed to reflect the values, personality and culture of the businesses.

Storytelling is important for businesses because customers and clients place importance on how they perceive a business thinks and feels. Leaders spend a lot of time putting in place cultures and values but often don’t do enough to show this personality to others.

Recent research by two cognitive science professors for Wiley found that when organisations are perceived to have human-like minds and emotions, they are more likely to be judged more positively than one that isn’t, even when they do something wrong.

If your business was a human being, what would people say about you; and are you doing enough to tell your story and show that human side?


What you do tells a story about you…


I know myself that when I see businesses talking about certain new policies or initiatives they are doing that I think ‘that’s really nice’. They are creating personalities and demonstrating values that I can relate to that I appreciate even more than just the transactional business they do. I’m not just interested in the business they do, but how they do it.

I have heard a lot recently about businesses that are bringing in new policies that meet the changing needs of their teams and that reflect public sentiment.

Property consultancy Fisher German has introduced an IVF policy that is sympathetic to the stress that fertility treatment can have, as well as the time impact it can have.

In January I wrote about a campaign led by Publicis Groups CEO that was aiming to end the stigma of undergoing cancer treatment in the workplace. At the time it had around 50 companies on board, now there are over 600 signed up to the pledge. A similar number of companies in the UK have signed the Wellbeing of Women Menopause Workplace Pledge, which is backed by Bupa and Hello! Magazine.

More businesses are also helping employees give back to society. Nationwide Building Society and Experian allow team members three days of paid leave every year for voluntary work. An associate was telling me that as part of his company’s Christmas celebrations, he and his colleague were going to be spending the day with a local charity making mince pies for the homeless.


Consistently live your personality…


Businesses that create strong personalities that their customers buy into need to be seen constantly living those values to reinforce them and maintain brand trust.

As an energy drink, Red Bull has built its entire persona around the living of a high energy, extreme lifestyle. Through the sponsoring of extreme sports events, they have positioned themselves as the go-to brand for those who crave excitement and live an active lifestyle.

A boutique property developer with a strong passion for sustainability and responsible design spoke about how the people that purchased their apartments share a passion for this ethos. They can see the care that goes into the bespoke joinery and carefully chosen paint which aligns with their values. The company’s success having launched during Brexit, with sold out developments during the pandemic and the cost-of-living crises is a testament to the value people place on this. As they grow they are building a community of artisans and craftspeople to be part of their story.

Beer company Pilsner, when trying to redefine its personality in a crowded market, turned to its history and the fact that its beer is still brewed using traditional techniques. It replaced its old corporate website with one that told its story, with videos showing how its barrels are made by hand. It employed its own beer journalist to travel the world looking at the history of beer to create content for the new website and its social media channels.


Create an emotional response…


I often find that the companies I want to do business with are the ones that give me an emotional response to working with them, as well as a rational one.

People who have a passion for what they do often are able to embed that in everything they and their business do. I was struck when I was liaising with a developer recently. When I looked at his website before I met him, I was taken by the way he talked about the level of care they take in the local community to make sure that they are being made a part of the process as partners and that the community should be holding them accountable. It made me think that they really cared and that they were different, even though I had not heard of them before. Then when I met the owner, I could see from his passion that it was very authentic. I don’t often see that with development.

Going back to the Christmas adverts, they are all carefully crafted to elicit an emotional response of one kind, whether that is humour, sentimentality or empathy.


Stories need strategy…


Finding the right messages to deliver and telling a good story doesn’t happen by chance, it all stems from what leaders do to create a business personality that is built around a culture and values that they hold dear and that resonate with their target audiences.


What would your Christmas advert say about your business?



Oona Collins works with leaders and their teams who want to achieve great things. If you are looking to create exceptional levels of engagement and performance in your leadership team, contact Oona to begin a conversation at team@potentialplus-int.com.


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