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Christmas advert season arrives on television screens

By Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Correspondent

The Christmas ad season has arrived on television screens as retailers hope to end another difficult year with some festive cheer.

Big budget campaigns from Asda, Iceland, and Argos are screening from Friday and Saturday amid predictions by the Advertising Association that businesses will spend a record £6.8 billion on seasonal advertising in the UK during the final quarter of this year – up 4.7% on last year’s record.

Argos’s clip will air to millions of viewers during ITV’s Coronation Street and Channel 4’s Gogglebox, opening with a father seeing that his daughter has circled a drum kit in the retailer’s Christmas catalogue, renamed the “Book Of Dreams”.

Characters from Disney’s Frozen 2 including Elsa, Princess Anna and Olaf will feature in Iceland’s Christmas advert, showing at 8.15pm on ITV.

The exclusive animations created by Disney for Iceland, ahead of the film’s launch, will show the characters “magically” appear during a family game of charades and reveal their favourite things about Christmas.

Iceland Christmas advert (Iceland/PA)

Asda’s two-minute ad screens for the first time during ITV’s The X Factor: Celebrity on Saturday night following a teaser during ITV weather on Friday evening and tells the story of two children who spread Christmas magic throughout a village.

The ad was filmed in Tyldesley, Wigan, where in 2016 residents dubbed the Christmas tree in their market square the worst in the country for its “dead-looking” appearance.

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford said: “Christmas is absolutely critical for retailers. A big part of that is the battle of the Christmas ad.

“The British public love the Christmas ads. It makes everybody feel good about Christmas, and as a brand you want your campaign to be one of the favourites.

“In the US they have the Super Bowl, in the UK it’s the Christmas ad. It’s where the big guns come out.”

A scene from Argos’s 2019 Christmas ad (Argos/PA)

However, previous studies suggest that Christmas campaigns have little if any impact on where the vast majority of consumers do their shopping.

A survey of 11,500 consumers in 2016 by consumer finance information website revealed that just 1% said the adverts had a “big impact” on where they did their Christmas shopping, while 2% said it had “an impact”.

One in 10 said the ads had a “rare impact” on them and may have subtly influenced them once or twice, but 69% said they had no impact whatsoever.

Depressingly for the industry, 6% said they liked some of the adverts but could never remember who they were for, while 9% said they were “turned off” by the adverts and deliberately avoided the stores behind them.