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Andrea Felsted

The Futile Christmas Ad War

U.K. retailers' big ad spending can forge a link with shoppers but won't reverse a bad sales trend.

Whether you love Buster the boxer dog, the trampolining star of John Lewis's Christmas advertisement, or want to cut Aldi's Kevin the Carrot into tiny pieces, you can't escape retailers' holiday marketing.

Store chains' television campaigns have become something of a cultural phenomenon in Britain over the past five years, particularly that of employee-owned department store John Lewis Partnership Plc, which typically features a small child or cuddly creature and a heartwarming soundtrack. They're a big deal, debuting for viewers gathered round the television to watch The X Factor, and attracting huge audiences on social media.