DIY retailer Homebase and mobile operator O2 have got social with their Christmas marketing campaigns this year, following in the footsteps of earlier festive ad launches by businesses such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer (M&S).

Homebase launched its TV ad on Wednesday – written by Leo Burnett and produced by Hogarth Worldwide – with a focus on showcasing how the family home can be brought to life at Christmas, but it has also created a spin-off advert specifically for social media featuring a newly created Harriet the dog character.

Much like John Lewis and M&S, which have aimed to raise the profile of their festive campaigns by developing storylines involving penguins and fairies respectively, the Home Retail Group company has created an individual Twitter handle for the dog. The Harriet the dog spin-off was first broadcast on the Homebase Facebook page, but the retailer is encouraging consumers to follow the animal's adventures via @Harrietwoofs.

Meanwhile, O2 announced on Thursday a new social way for people to encourage their friends and family to pull together when purchasing products they would like for Christmas.

Dubbed Gift Hacker, the new tool enables customers to pick a gift for either themselves or someone else, and ask people they know to help fund the purchase. It is built on the Buyapowa platform and includes products such as headphones, speakers, cameras and wearable smart technology.

Each person that contributes can give as much or as little as they like in set increments, with no money taken until the gift has been fully funded.

Kristian Lorenzon, head of social media for O2 in the UK, commented: "Buying the perfect Christmas gift can be tricky and not everyone can afford to buy the latest piece of smart tech or a must have pair of headphones.

"Gift Hacker lets everyone contribute, no matter how big or small, toward making someone's Christmas dreams come true this year."

Although hard to gauge the revenue-generating capacity of social media campaigns, a growing number of retailers are using the medium to engage with their customers during the build-up to 25 December. Judging by some of the media coverage since the start of the month, the annual Christmas advertising roll-out is becoming something of a cultural event.

John Lewis said last week that its ad depicting Monty the penguin's Christmas received over 16 million views on social media in its first week, racking up seven million views over the course of the first 24 hours.

The retailer is supporting the ad with an in-store experience, 'Monty's Den', where people can engage with the penguin characters using interactive technology. It is also selling Monty toys, which can help the company claw back some of the £1 million outlay on the campaign itself.

Phone number delivery provider City Numbers published research into consumer opinion on Christmas marketing. When asked what would improve the ads, 30% of the 1,006 respondents said they would welcome fewer of them, while 22% indicated they would like to see more personalised ads.

Craig Busst, managing director of City Numbers, remarked: "For many people, Christmas brand campaigns evidently do have a positive effect, but there are a large number of consumers who perhaps feel that in the run-up to the festive period there is a saturation of Christmas promos, and could potentially alienate shoppers.

"At a time of year where we part with more cash than normal, it's even more important that retailers get the messaging right and specific to the individual they are targeting."

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Leo Burnett

Hogarth Worldwide

Buyapowa

City Numbers