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With Christmas right around the corner, the usual suspects among UK retailers are partaking in the seasonal tradition of big-budget TV ads. Boots, which was founded in 1849, took the well-trodden narrative of togetherness and family, reminding Britons that it’s one of the nation’s most nostalgic gift-buying destinations. We explore the insights behind the ad, and explain why it pays for brands to emphasise the history they share with shoppers.

The campaign – titled ’#ShowThemYouKnowThem’ – was created by Ogilvy and Mather London, and features the long relationship of two sisters who give each other Boots gifts for Christmas, triggering flashbacks to their times together. The ad shows how the sisters were there to support one another throughout key life events, from first kisses to weddings, and is strewn with Boots products from the ‘70s until today – including Seventeen Parma Violet Nail Polish and Natural Collection Banana Moisturising Cream Bath – as part of their memories of an enduring relationship.

Boots is a national favourite for picking up stocking fillers
Boots UK | YouTube (2017) ©

Pulling on emotional heartstrings is nothing new when it comes to Christmas adverts, with the likes of Sainsbury’s Mogg or Heathrow’s ‘Coming Home for Christmas’ gaining positive reactions and millions of views. While holiday traditions are changing, the familial element remains a constant, with 85-90% of Britons going to family gatherings over the season. And with John Lewis experiencing a 36% year-on-year sales increase after releasing its sentimental Christmas ad in 2016, it’s no surprise that Boots is similarly looking to capitalise at the time of year when emotions run highest.

The ad also plays on the emotional relationship Boots has nurtured with UK consumers over 150 years it's been operating. “We want to help people recognise, strengthen and celebrate their closest relationships through the sharing of great gifts,” says Helen Jeremiah, director of consumer strategy at Boots UK. “Like the sisters in our film, many of our customers have grown up with Boots and have been sharing our gifts with their family and friends throughout their lives.” By reminding people of the role it plays at Christmas, the retailer solidifies its reputation as a reliable destination for gift-givers in the hectic run-up to the holidays.

Oriyan Prizant is a researcher at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. He has a BA in law, which focused on people's perceptions of contract breaches, and cultivates an unhealthy interest in Korean pop music.


13 Nov 17
3 min read

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