Fashion, festivity and advertising in modern Britain
by Stephen Entwistle, Advertising and Sponsorship Manager at Frasers Group. Josh Stocker, Director.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the House of Fraser Christmas ad, what’s trending in the marketing world, and what’s in our members’ Christmas stockings.

6th December 2021 Read time: 5 minutes Watch time: 19 minutes
Christmas advertising presents a unique opportunity for brands. Maintaining presence during the holidays is vital, though, for marketers, it offers an intriguing challenge. The Christmas ad must capture the festive spirit and delight audiences while having viral value so that audiences will spread it far and wide.  
After a disruptive 20 months, House of Fraser was looking to provide a joyful, festive, emergent feeling to audiences across the UK in their Christmas ad. Advertising and Sponsorship Manager at Frasers Group, Stephen Entwistle, immediately put his hand up to take control of the project. Armed with his obsession for all things Christmas, he was keen to volunteer to take the lead.  
The House of Fraser team were looking for a creative agency to help develop the ad. As a client of The Specialist Works (part of the What’s Possible Group), they were introduced to the What’s Possible Creative Studio, which proved to be the perfect partner.  
Working on the media side, one of the most frustrating bits is having media and creative agencies which aren’t aligned. So, it’s a win-win if you can get them both together,” Stephen said. 
David Hughes, Managing Director of the What’s Possible Creative Studio, enlisted Josh Stocker’s help, a freelance director who could bring the creative to life and hit the ground running.  
David welcomed both Stephen and Josh into the What’s Possible Community to discuss the project, delve deeper into how the ad came alive, talk about the unique challenges and opportunities brands currently face in the marketing world, and usher in the festive season.

Turning House of Fraser into the House of Festive

The ad was the first House of Fraser had done in a few years. Showcasing the brands that live within House of Fraser and representing them throughout the commercial was a major consideration for Stephen. The only hurdle: some of the brands had never done TV ads before. 
A lot of brands just don’t do TV advertising. A lot of the fashion brands we really wanted in, just point blank refused to be on TV. They prefer the fly poster approach,” he said.
Stephen had already worked on his manifesto for the ad. Writing down ‘House of F’ was where he began. He then wrote a couple of words that would build the foundation for the ad; ‘fun, fabulous, fierce’. Expanding on that idea, Josh got to work. 
It was make-or-break. Stephen needed to persuade selected House of Fraser partner brands to participate in the ad. For example, he was keen to get clothing brand C.P. Company, with their winter jackets, involved so the ‘House of Frost-Proof’ element could make the final cut.  
He went on a charm offensive to show the fashion brands why a Christmas ad would be a great idea – and sold them on television advertising. Meanwhile, Josh was working on turning the House of Fraser into the House of Festive.  
For me, it just instantly felt like an interesting prism into what House of Fraser is. It’s this brand that has a diversity of people who go and shop there. There are lots of different worlds that live within the House of Fraser brand. It felt like embodying that within our commercial was an amazing route to go. It also gave us the flexibility to have an amazing, super-diverse cast of ages, backgrounds, and cultures. It was really fun and interesting,” Josh said.
The multifaceted ad included a variety of styles. Josh said every shoot day was different thanks to having a spectrum of characters, each embodying a House of Fraser brand. They added more and more ‘House of F’s’ into the ad: ‘fly, flashy, flawless and fragrance’. Each encapsulated a House of Fraser brand. They were all brought together at the end of the ad, establishing a wonderful narrative of living under the same roof, otherwise known as ‘the house of finally back together’.
Embedding the emergent feeling of coming back together in the ad was entirely intentional. Stephen says House of Fraser wants to lure people back to the retail stores once the pandemic has abated.

High street revival, creativity, collaboration and fashion

Create an atmosphere. That is what Stephen believes retailers will have to do once the world returns to normal. David Hughes calls it the ‘experiential economy’: the experience of being on the high street – something brands are hoping consumers can enjoy without impediment soon. The disruption of the last 20 months, however, has caused brands to get creative.  
People have had to be more creative to survive the pandemic,” Stephen remarked. “It’s good that brands try these new things out. Like advertising at Christmas time. There are opportunities for brands, rather than doing just a standard TV ad. More and more brands are getting involved in the content side of things”.   
Josh says creating a nostalgic feeling – of what shopping used to be like – will lead to a high street revival. He is fond of the new trend of older brands with more heritage making concerted efforts to collaborate with contemporary brands – evidenced by the fashionable Palace and Stella Artois collaboration
The other revival is in the fashion world. Stephen and Josh are cognisant of the reigniting of the 90s style prevalent in popular TV series like Squid Game, which will ultimately impact how consumers will shop. Wearing a vintage tracksuit is now in fashion. How will brands react?  
In the digital world, Stephen sees more and more collaboration between brands in the future with the arrival of new platforms like the Metaverse and advertising within games like Fortnite. 
The House of Fraser Christmas ad is a study in creative collaboration done right. We are thrilled to welcome Josh and Stephen as members of the What’s Possible Community. They have ushered the festive season in for the Community by putting together a brilliant Christmas ad with the What’s Possible Creative Studio that other marketers can marvel at.