After a fantastic four day weekend, the UK is finally back to work today and many of us are already missing the Easter celebrations. Over 80 million chocolate eggs are purchased in the UK each year in the lead up to Easter (The Independent), and as one of the most lucrative holidays of the year, marketers have been capitalising on this. Whether or not you celebrated Easter this year, it has been impossible to ignore the chocolate eggs in every shop, and the seasonal adverts dominating our magazines, shops and screens.
The Easter market is valued at £200 million in the UK alone (The Independent), and the holiday can seem like an easy target for marketers - how hard can it be to advertise chocolate? But there certainly have been a few marketing missteps this year, as well as some remarkably successful campaigns. With that in mind, this week we’re looking back at the most memorable Easter ads and campaigns from this year, both good and bad.
To kick things off, we’re starting with one of the most obviously Easter-centric campaigns of this year, from the German food retailer Netto Marken-Discount. Their video ad, called “The Easter Surprise” focuses on the origins of the Easter Bunny, and tells the story of just how the iconic creature came to be. This unusual and emotional take on the history of the Easter Bunny has attracted a huge online audience, with over 11 million views since its release just 4 weeks ago. The ad tells a clever and compelling story of how many Easter traditions began, as well as spreading an encouraging anti-bullying message for children, all through the power of an adorable, egg-laying rabbit. It’s impossible to deny this campaign has really flourished, thanks to its cute narrative and spectacular animation and art design. This campaign has brought the supermarket brand a great deal of positive attention in the build up to Easter celebrations, and hopefully some new customers too.
On a slightly different note, a brand with a truly unexpected marketing campaign this Easter is Eve. The mattress retailer has grown rapidly in recent years, and is well known for its creative and strikingly simple campaigns. But what does a mattress and bedding company have to do with Easter? Well, Eve launched an email and social campaign over the Easter weekend, reminding customers of a key advantage to a four day weekend - plenty of lie ins. According to Eve, a lazy morning is “what Easter Monday is all about” and the only thing more satisfying than waking up late on a bank holiday Monday is waking up on an Eve mattress. Using playful imagery depicting an Eve mattress in a foil wrapping resembling that of a chocolate egg, as well as creative, succinct copy, the brand has conveyed a simple message and reminded us that there is more to Easter than just chocolate.
Sainsbury’s have really pushed the boat out this Easter, launching a new social film as part of their #nevergrowingup campaign. The video, a collaboration with British inventor Tom Lawton, celebrates Easter in a wacky and different way. Instead of focusing on chocolate, the playful film depicts Lawton and his children making the "Ultimate Egg Rolling Machine" using an everyday assortment of toys and household items. Engaging and memorable, the film is a reminder of the importance of family during the Easter weekend, with Sainsbury’s even going as far to release a ‘How To’ film, explaining to viewers how to recreate the egg rolling contraption at home. The video continues the supermarket’s new fun and forward-thinking attitude, which was kicked off earlier this year by their "Food Dancing" campaign.
On the other hand, fellow supermarket giant Co-op have had rather less success with their Easter campaign this year. After the launch of one of their Easter print ads in early April, the brand experienced significant backlash from irate customers. As part of their ongoing “Be a Good Egg” campaign, the full page advert encouraged readers to buy a Co-op Easter egg to “Treat your daughter for doing the washing up”. The advert was quickly accused of being outdated and sexist for referring explicitly to daughters as opposed to all children, with many social media users labelling it as an example of #EverydaySexism. As Co-op is a brand well known for its ethical standing and Fairtrade status, the advert came as a shock to many devoted customers. The advert was quickly corrected to read “child” instead of “daughter”, and the brand issued a public apology for their marketing misstep.
One brand having a bit more success with their eggs is Cadbury. The first ever Cadbury Easter egg was made in 1875 and since then the brand has become synonymous with Easter in the UK, particularly due to the cult status of the Cadbury Creme Egg. The confectionary giant kicked off 2017 by celebrating the beginning of Creme Egg season in spectacular fashion - announcing “Creme Egg Hunting Season” had begun. A mere fortnight after concluding their Christmas campaign, ‘hunting season’ began, with a pop-up Creme Egg hunting lodge appearing first in London, then travelling the nation. This campaign was clearly directed towards a millennial audience, with a strong emphasis on experiential marketing and social media, including sponsored content on BuzzFeed as well as online adverts on YouTube and other social platforms.
However, Cadbury have also suffered their fair share of controversy this Easter. Several members of the Church of England criticised the brand for marketing their annual egg hunts without explicit use of the word ‘Easter’. What’s more, Theresa May herself stepped in, calling the oversight “absolutely ridiculous”. Cadbury responded to the criticism by stating “we invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats”, whilst maintaining they still mentioned Easter clearly in their marketing, website and promotional materials for the event. The brand managed to combat this criticism quickly and effectively, while spreading the message that people from all backgrounds should be able to enjoy Easter if they wish to do so, ideally by purchasing Cadbury chocolate.
It’s clear that many brands have had ups and downs this Easter, but the usual suspects - supermarket and confectionary giants - still reigned supreme over the bank holiday weekend. However, it's worth mentioning some of the more unconventional companies who also made waves this year with more unexpected campaigns, to remarkable results. All in all, this Easter has been a highly exciting and dynamic event for marketers, proving that the holiday is a perfect opportunity for a thoughtful and effective campaign to really make its mark.