Fortnum & Mason Xmas Ad Shows Its Enduring Presence In British History

Everything must change, but people like Christmas to stay the same. Fortnum and Mason’s first-ever Christmas ad sentimentally reminds viewers of the department store’s long history, showing how it has always safeguarded the essential holiday spirit that people still buy into. We discover the insights behind the ad and understand how at a time of constant change, Fortnum & Mason remains a familiar brand people can rely on.
Fortnum and Mason’s 'Masters of Merry' film spans 311 years of history in just under a minute. Showing the UK’s transition throughout the span of 12 monarchs, the ad also covers watershed cultural moments like the moon landing, women earning the right to vote, and the Olympics. It concludes by telling viewers that despite these rapid changes, Christmas at Fortnum’s has remained the same. Created by Otherway London, the spot bridges the past and present through a blend of original archive footage, product shots, and animations. "It’s a whistle-stop tour of the past 300 years and a celebration of the fact that Christmas isn’t Christmas without Fortnum & Mason," says Ben Lewin, a partner at Otherway.
At a time of rapid political change, celebrations like Christmas offer people something familiar to take comfort in. And with 18% of Britons doing their Christmas shopping months in advance, it's clear that people are eagerly looking forward to the holiday season. Fortnum’s ad taps into this anticipation, cleverly tying the sentimentality of a classic Christmas to the brand’s long legacy. "This season has always been at the heart of Fortnum & Mason. While many things will change in the next 300 years, Fortnum’s at Christmas is one thing that won’t," says Zia Zareem-Slade, the brand's customer experience director. The heartwarming clip illustrates how people respond well to heritage brands taking lighthearted approaches to their illustrious histories – something Wimbledon has been doing well of late.
By taking a playful approach to demonstrating its lasting legacy, Fortnum & Mason is appealing to a luxury consumer who appreciates brands keeping up with modern culture, but still finds comfort in a brand that has stood the test of time and aligns with their cultural values. Further, the distinctly British as taps the three in five Britons who associate British brands with ‘quality’; the film helps people feel part of an illustrious history and narrative that is still evolving. As consumers begin to appreciate advertising innovation, the time is ripe for luxury brands to find similar ways of highlighting their classic heritage in subtle, creative ways.
Helen Jambunathan is an anthropologist and Behavioural Analyst at Canvas8, which specialises in behavioural insights and consumer research. She holds a Masters degree from the University of Cambridge, and has over five years of experience researching the specialty coffee industry. Outside of work, she is a die-hard tennis fan, wearer of many rings, and reader of many things.

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