Christmas is coming…and so are the adverts!

Christmas is coming…and so are the adverts!

Meet Daisy, a 14-year-old junior intern. She visited the Bristol office last week for work experience and to learn all about Coull.

This is her first taste of marketing! Check out Daisy’s favourite Christmas adverts and our festive advertising top tips…

1. John Lewis – Monty the Penguin

What is it about?

This advert is about a boy who has a toy penguin, represented in life form. The boy decides to give the penguin a companion for Christmas, to keep him company. This advert may not have any words, but it still shows emotion in a playful and powerful way.

Why do we like it?

  • John Lewis talks beyond their brand and conveys an emotive message, for example, “Christmas is for sharing”.

  • They use memorable, impactful music.

2.  Coca-Cola – A Coke for Christmas

What is it about?

Coca-Cola has become quite iconic in the Christmas advertising world and are allegedly responsible for Santa being dressed in red. They’ve managed to market a product, that’s arguably not very healthy for you, and make themselves a worldwide brand. This advert depicts a family Christmas and everyone sharing and celebrating with a coke. ‘Family time’ and ‘sharing’ are common themes in Christmas ads.

Why do we like it?

  • Coca-cola has created a worldwide tradition by dressing Santa in red, in a clever way to reinforce their branding.

  • They show a family Christmas, really speaking to their audience on a personal level.

3. M&S – Mrs Claus

What is it about?

Marks and Spencers made a comeback in 2016 when they released their Mrs Claus advert. This is a heartwarming and funny advert, targeting their audience with the main character (Mrs Claus). As well as all this, there’s a theme of feminism throughout, empowering Mrs Claus as a more important part of Christmas.

Why do we like it?

  • It shows a different side to Christmas, a ‘behind the scenes’ look.

  • This advert speaks directly to their target market.

  • This is an empowering message for women.

4.  Sainsbury’s – 1914

What is it about?

2014 marked 100 years since that start of World War 1, and Sainsbury’s decided to mark this pivotal point in history with this ad. This advert shows soldiers in the trenches, creating a strong sense of patriotism as well as showing the importance of kindness and friendship.


Why do we like it?

  • This advert speaks to British audiences, making them feel proud of their country and heritage.

  • It also reminds us of the core values about Christmas: sharing and kindness – a running theme in these Christmas ads.

5. John Lewis – The Long Wait

What is it about?

This 2011 advert shows a little boy, waiting patiently for Christmas and it ends in a heartfelt moment of present giving. What this advert does well is it takes a different point of view, taking it back to our own childhood memories.

Why do we like it?

  • This ad tells a very emotive message to the viewers, similar to the other adverts.

  • There’s no speech, only a well-chosen song, this makes more of an impact and makes the advert visually compelling.

Top tips for a successful Christmas advert

  • Emotional imagery speaks louder than words.

  • Use impactful/memorable music – sometimes speech isn’t needed at all.

  • It can be fun or serious but think outside the box to help it stand out. For example, take a different point of view like the Mrs Claus character.

  • Know and speak to your audience.

  • Use events from the past that convey a strong message, like the Sainsbury’s ‘1914’ advert.

  • Think beyond the business or the product, viewers react more to emotional, relatable messages.


What are your favourite Christmas adverts?

Tweet us @Coull

Posted by Naomi Sandercock in Coull comment
How to avoid the digital ad fraud grinch this silly season

How to avoid the digital ad fraud grinch this silly season

Don’t suffer at the mercy of the Christmas Grinch of the ad world this season. We’ve got some tips for avoiding digital ad fraud, making great campaigns and ensuring you reach audiences through the clutter of tinsel and the ho, ho, ho of the big fat man.

Sad and frustrating as it may be, Christmas time is prime time for fraudsters trying to profit from your end of year media budget. Make the boss happy by ensuring you only pay for valid, viewable traffic.

When it comes to unwrapping presents on Christmas day, one of the biggest excitements is not knowing what you’re going to find under all that wrapping paper. The same cannot be said for the media buying world.

Avoid digital ad fraud: know what you’re buying

When you purchase inventory for your brand, it’s pretty darn important you know exactly what you’re getting.

  • Make sure you work with a compliant platform or ad network with rules in place. They should be transparent about what inventory is sold and what is accepted as valid, in-view and brand-safe. We have our own invalid traffic score that we apply to each publisher partner. We work with our partners on a one to one basis to ensure their inventory is compliant. It’s simple, avoid digital ad fraud and buy safely and efficiently.

  • Ensure you get the best match possible. Talk to your account manager about what inventory is available and at what price.

  • Don’t just buy on one metric. Although you may be buying inventory based on viewability, that’s no good at all if the inventory is fraudulent. Cutting corners is not the way to get that Christmas bonus. Frame you KPIs around what matters in programmatic and ditch historic measurement models.

Make your ad campaigns count

  • Be as relevant as you can this season by running PMP (Private Marketplace) deals. Talk to your account manager about the best option for your campaigns rather than diving blind into a pool that could be flooded with invalid traffic. Again, work with partners you trust.

  • Choose ad formats that will be seen by your audience. This means they should have a track record of high CTR. For example, our OverStream formats perform 10x  better than a standard display ad.

  • Engage your audience on the move with mobile-friendly campaigns.

  • Engage your audience across their favourite content format – video. The IAB and PWC’s latest report shows massive growth in video ad revenue, especially on mobile so be where your audience are.

  • Communicate what you want to your platform so they can find the right inventory for you.

Get the format right

  • Work with your agency or creative team to make your ad unit do the work for you. Choose the right ad format for your audience. Annoying and interruptive advertising isn’t the way to get noticed. Engage your audience when they’re thinking about purchasing.

  • Talk to your SSP or ad network and find out which formats are the most engaging and efficient. Not all ads are born equal. Running multiple formats that complement each other will give you the best chance of being seen and will make your media budget work harder.

Coull's OverStream Suite of video advertising formats

Check out our OverStream Suite of advertising formats.


  • Tis the season for re-targeting. We suggest running a re-targeting campaign a few days before Black Friday to coincide with Black Friday purchase decisions. Get in early to get that customer.

  • Target specific devices and locations you know your audience will be buying across. Don’t limit yourself to chance.

  • Buy across specific categories. Knowing what video inventory you’re buying is important when it comes to conversion.

Keep these tips in mind when planning your upcoming campaigns and get the most from your spend (and keep that mean, green critter away).

Merry end of year ad campaigning to you all!

Posted by simonholliday in Coull comment

Have a Mary Berry Christmas

This month the Coull team have donned their aprons and whipped out their whisks for the Christmas Bake Off. After a heavenly few weeks of sugar and carb overdoses we have counted the scores and are able to present to you our winner!

Bake Off King

Mat’s Utterly Nutterly Caramel Sponge completely won us over and so he has been crowned the 2013 Bake Off King!

But just to prove that the rest of us can bake, here are our runner ups.

2nd Place

Not only did my Tiramisu land second place, it received top marks for ‘taste’ too. A combination of coffee, liqueur and chocolate was always going to win over the hearts of the Coull team.

3rd place

Lisa’s Chocolate Orange Cupcakes got the top mark for ‘looks’ – who doesn’t like a bit of Christmas sparkle?

4th place

A tried and tested family classic, Sam’s Berry Pavalova had our taste buds jumping for joy, despite the zany appearance.

5th place

Kev’s plum and almond tart – enough said.

There were 12 other bakes; many delicious, and some questionable, but all get top marks for effort. (Unless you used ready-rolled pastry…)

Posted by simonholliday in Coull news