Christmas - the traditional family holiday of giving and receiving, is now (rather depressingly) being referred to as the ‘festival of marketing’ where brands release their latest Christmas campaigns in a bid to become associated with the festivities.

Predominantly it has always been TV ads with a poignant story and excellent soundtrack which gain the most exposure and capture the attention of the audience in the lead up to Christmas however, to reach audiences across all platforms they consume media on, it has become apparent that a cross-platform strategy is imperative for success.

As you start putting your Christmas strategies and campaigns in place for 2014, we’ve pulled together a series of blogs looking at some of the best performing festive campaigns of the past few years. First up, Marks & Spencer.

British staple Marks and Spencer is not well known for it’s use of digital and social media, however in the lead up to Christmas 2013, it really bucked the trend. Featuring Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, David Gandy and Helena Bonham-Carter, the ‘Believe in Magic and Sparkle’ campaign, inspired by Alice and Wonderland, incorporated social media into its traditional advertising model.

To generate awareness for the two minute ad first airing on the 6th of November, a teaser clip was released on the brand's Facebook page and via sponsored Twitter post in the days prior to launch. This, in combination with a host of ‘sparkly’ celebrities, built anticipation for the ad and helped to revive the brand’s ‘Magic and Sparkle’ tagline.

Following this, the full two-minute ad was released and aired on Facebook 48 hours before it’s TV launch - a digital first for the brand. In understanding that digital forms of advertising are the best way to instantly interact with customers, M&S encouraged viewers to visit their online poll to name the Scottie dog featured throughout the ad. Providing viewers with the option of ‘Magic’ or ‘Sparkle’, 130,000 votes were cast on social media with the winning name - ‘Sparkle’ - being announced in the second version of the ad aired during Downton Abbey four days later. With the success of the ‘name the dog’ poll, an impulse decision was made to launch a competition on Twitter inviting customers to send in images of their own pets. Tens of thousands of entries were sent in, the prize - a spa day to pamper the pooch and the owner.

Finally, as the ‘Believe in Magic and Sparkle’ campaign had been such a success for the brand, extra effort was put into two other social media campaigns in an attempt to increase both website clicks and social fanbase. #AdventGuess was launched to encourage their strong Twitter following to visit the website with the promise of a prize for one lucky winner followed by the ‘Pass the Parcel’ campaign which boosted Facebook likes by 70,000 in the first week of launch and 264,000 overall.

The 2014 festive ad has just been released racking up 2.5 million views since Friday 7th November. Watch the #FollowTheFairies ad here. Following this blog, keep your eyes peeled for more festive campaign discussions over the next few weeks leading you into Christmas.

The second installment in our blog series looks at some sweet examples from Christmas Kings Coca Cola.