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Why are we not celebrating big, bold creative Christmas PR campaigns? Asks Jackie Elliott

9th December 2018


Adeste Fideles, Laeti, Triumphantes*

Christmas! The traditional time of year for our business to sink into a snowstorm of product PR, disposable toys, vicious headaches and wondering whether anyone really needs to be in the office between Boxing Day and the New Year.

Advertising rules!

But it's time we in PR were more Laeti, triumphantes. Because this is also when the ad business strikes PR gold. All talk of integrated campaigns and AI goes out after Bonfire Night and national media (and almost every other media outlet) are awash with comment, spoilers, inside stories and take-offs about retailer Christmas ads. It's back to the good-old days when the Mad Men were the story and great commercials were better than movies (that could have been because they were directed by Alan Parker or Ridley Scott).

Where are we in all this? Nowhere. A time of year when almost any rosy-cheeked Christmas content is king, we never see a headline commenting on how creative, what fun or how unusual – a public relations story is.

Invisible PR

The Mad Man I married claims that most bad (planned) PR is invisible: it never sees the light of day apart from the occasional car crash of an idea – whereas a bad ad is plastered everywhere for ridicule and approbation. There are the unforeseen reputational disasters and lousy errors of judgement, classified as a "PR nightmare", with an edge of glee by media, but when it comes to celebrating big, bold creative Christmas campaigns, PR doesn't feature.

It's out there, of course. It's behind fundraising and gift giving. It's definitely behind the launch of those commercials. It's stirring up events and warming hearts everywhere, but it's not getting any recognition or credit for good ideas well delivered.

Traditional values

So much of what we are about to enjoy is, let's be frank, pretty old-fashioned: crackers, a turkey, carols, stockings, environmentally lethal glitter and the biggest horror of all: paper hats. Let's create some new traditions for a willing client.

Written by Jackie Elliot, CEO of communications firm Cathcart Consulting



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