2012 – The Year of The Social Media Extension

By Rob McNair

The year in advertising reaches its climax as retailers and brands alike clamber through your TV sets prying for your attention and Christmas pounds (the monetary type). Only the super bowl reaches the level consumer anticipation around advertising as Christmas does. This year, many people proclaimed Super Bowl XLVI to be the world’s first ‘Social Super Bowl’, so it only makes sense that Christmas advertising followed in it’s footsteps.

Here’s a run down on who has been creating fresh footsteps in the social snow this Christmas.

John Lewis – The Journey

John Lewis has made their way into the hearts and minds of the UK’s middle class with their The Journey campaign. Focused on a rather handsomely crafted snowman whose demanding, consumerist wife sends him trudging through places snowmen really shouldn’t go for a pair of gloves, they managed to live up to the high expectations of last years TV campaign, For Gifts You Can’t Wait to Give.

What they did in social was subtle, but when you’ve got such a solid story to work off, sometimes subtlety is all you need. Their @John_Snowman twitter account had 2,271 followers at the last count and twitter, Flickr and Instagram feeds were populated by images and stories of people who’d seen John Snowman in person on his way to the local John Lewis.

Something that cannot be overlooked, hashtags, twitter accounts and snowman visits aside, is the creative execution that encouraged over 2 million people to seek out the advert on YouTube. When creative is that good people are flocking in their millions to see it, bypassing the need for bumping media spend, John Lewis’ advertising department really have ‘gone the extra mile’.

Topshop – Who’s that Girl??


Word on the high street is that Topshop have decided to go all out on their very first Christmas campaign, creating a super-slick film titled Winter Wonderland starring a rather elusive Hollywood starlet. However, all they’re willing to give us until December 4th is a 17 second clip featuring the sparkling midriff of slender beauty.

So, how does Topshop plan to keep people talking about their upcoming premiere? Social media of course! Fans are encouraged to follow topshop on their social media channels for daily clues and are promoting the use of the hashtag #whosthatgirl. Adding a little fuel to the fire, they’ve also thrown in the chance to win a £500 shopping spree for anyone who tweets @topshop with their guess of who the leading lady is. I’m stumped, but see if you can do any better:


Mercedes – #YOUDRIVE

They really went to town on this one. Mercedes-Benz decided to hand over director duties to the folks of twittsville in an attempt to attract a younger audience to the ageing German auto-marke. The campaign began with a 60 second spot aired during The X Factor. Viewers were then asked to choose what the characters should do next using the hashtag #YOUDRIVE on twitter. Two ads followed, each featuring the twitter data that reveals the percentage of viewers who voted for that outcome.

Mercedes also realized the importance of rewarding high influence participants, with mycleveragency’s very own Tim Grimes receiving a personalized #YOUDRIVE poster.


We are, unsurprisingly, heading towards a more integrated approach to social media. Brands are beginning to realize that despite the hype, there’s no real replacement for the results of traditional advertising. However, a more intelligent approach to media is beginning to prevail and a shift in the emphasis towards creative quality is most definitely a good thing.

Whilst a presence on social media and making use of the functions it offers, hashtags for example, is great for amplifying your message, there’s no substitution for a great, compelling story that people willingly engage with. Whereas John Lewis, and to a lesser degree Topshop, have created something people want to be a part of, Mercedes was a slightly more crude and overly optimistic execution that probably made a false presumption on the wisdom of crowds and their willingness to participate. Despite a higher emphasis on social channels, they haven’t quite been able to reach the number of YouTube views as John Lewis has.

This post was written by Rob McNair

Rob has experience advising some of the worlds most iconic brands. He thrives on helping improving social media knowledge within organisations with the ultimate goal of making theirs brands more social, transparent and accountable.