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While some Christmas traditions might be changing – think stockings for dogs and £250 designer advent calendars – in the UK at least, Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman is still a firm favourite for Christmas Eve viewing. In 2013, 11 million people tuned in to watch. And now, the characters are the stars of Barbour’s 2016 ad, combining two British institutions for one festive nostalgia trip.

“The Raymond Briggs estate is rich in heritage and is truly an iconic British brand that we are thrilled to share the values of family and tradition with,” say Barbour. While the snowman could well have been wearing an iconic wax leather hat all along, the ad is the first bespoke animation of the original The Snowman and The Snowdog films. The ad sees the boy from the original all grown up, dressed in his Barbour jacket, holding his dog – which is also wearing a Barbour dog coat. It's been perfectly timed to launch alongside the @BarbourDogs Instagram account. As part of the campaign, Barbour stores will also sell copies of the original book.

Barbour is doubling down on nostalgia this Christmas
Barbour (2016) ©

While the 2015 Christmas ads saw a mixture of cynical and sentimental stories – Currys, PC World and Harvey Nichols all riffed off the effort required to pretend a bad gift is a good gift – this year, brands are taking a step back, facilitating heart-warming tales (Heathrow) and realistic narratives (Edeka), instead of branding their wares.

But Barbour, is doing things differently says Rob Thomas, director of Practical Semiotics. “It tries to compress a lifetime's experience into a jacket, which no other brands are trying to do. It's literally trying to force its way into a well known story and to become a significant part of that story. Almost as if a Ford Mondeo was trying to become Cinderella’s coach. I don’t think Barbour has the cultural permission to do that.” But while the branding might be a little blatant, with studies suggesting that feeling nostalgic makes people more likely to spend, it makes sense that Barbour is keen to facilitate that warm, fuzzy feeling.

Jo Allison is Canvas8’s editor. Previously, she worked for retail trends consultancy GDR where shopping was part of the job description. When she’s not getting her head around the quirks of human behaviour, she’s busy ‘researching’ the latest food or fitness fad.


12 Dec 16
2 min read

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