Anthropomorphism Marketing in Christmas Adverts
This time of year means one thing for big brand advertisers, Christmas TV adverts. From department stores like John Lewis to low cost supermarkets like Aldi, a heart-warming Christmas ad can be expected.
But we’re not here to talk about the effectiveness of them because you already know that, instead we want to talk about why. In many cases, anthropomorphic marketing can be attributed for their success.
What is anthropomorphic marketing?
Anthropomorphic marketing is the personification of brands, allowing them to portray human-like characteristics. This can be achieved through brand mascots such as inanimate objects and cartoons. John Lewis does this extremely well, think back to ‘Bear and the Hare’ and ‘Monty’ the penguin.
It has evolved marketing communications from being more descriptive and factual to storytelling and emotion provoking. Humans connect to other humans, not objects, therefore by humanising your brand it makes it easier for consumers to connect with you.
How does it work?
Storytelling is often used in marketing communications to evoke an emotion within consumers, helping form a positive opinion of a brand or product. Personification can help tell a story by giving life to an object, and has been proven to positively impact brand attributes.
There is so much competition for brands that it’s no longer enough to have the best product or most competitive pricing, it’s about how well you can market your products (which often comes down to storytelling). There are a couple theories on why anthropomorphic marketing is so effective namely; the elaboration likelihood model and cultivation theory.
The elaboration likelihood model recognises that when someone is more involved with a situation, they will make a decision more consciously. Whereas the lesser the involvement someone has, the more subconscious the decision made. Take the following scenario for example, you need to pick up some mince pies before your Christmas party, but you don’t like mince pies. You’re probably more likely to go to the first shop that comes to mind, not where has the best mince pies. And how do brands make sure you think of them? A great communications strategy.
Secondly, the cultivation theory argues that exposure to a fictional reality can leave consumers with a distorted perception of the real world. Meaning brands can alter your perception of them simply based on a fictional character.
So what does this look like in practice?
This year Lidl have introduced ‘Lidl Bear’, but they’ve put a twist on their advert. At this point, most people understand the reason brands put a narrative in their adverts is to provoke an emotional response. So instead of pretending like people don’t know, Lidl have pointed it out in their advert saying ‘narrative complete…’. This brings humour to the advert which likely positively influences the viewers emotions towards the brand.
Aldi also uses humour in their advert by recreating the plot of Home Alone with Kevin the Carrot, their mascot. By the end of the advert Kevin is reunited with his family, bringing back the age old narrative of being with loved ones at Christmas time. Aldi have created a ‘fun’ brand image through anthropomorphism.
Of course other emotions can be used for persuasiveness. The 2019 John Lewis/Waitrose advert made the audience feel bad for Edgar the Dragon who couldn’t stop setting things on fire. This storytelling is another way that anthropomorphic marketing can be used to evoke an emotion.