While the whole world goes crazy about John Lewis’ campaign the other UK retailers are quietly putting out their ads. A brand with a pretty good record in the sonic branding world is Boots. In 2007 they invested heavily in a cover of the Ernie K-Doe’s track “Here Come the Girls”, turning a little known track into a Top 40 hit and a valuable piece of their branding. The combination of a perfectly matched chorus and consistent use meant it was pretty hard to hear the track without immediately linking it back to Boots.
Anyway they ditched the track last Christmas, making the switch away from a single track brand approach to campaign focused selections. Since then campaigns have featured tracks from Elton John (Now That’s What I Call Music 56), Fine Young Cannibals (Now That’s What I Call Music 15), Chris Rea (Now That’s What I Call Music 7, South Africa) and Deacon Blue (Now That’s What I Call Music 1988), all of which would resonate well with their audience.
So it comes as no surprise that for Christmas 2013 they have gone for another track that will make people dream of the good old days, Bronski Beat’s classic “Smalltown Boy” (Now That’s What I Call Music 3). In an ad that avoids the subtle story telling of John Lewis, Boots are hoping that a strong soundtrack will grab the viewers attention in a way that the visuals simply don’t.
I don’t think Boots made a mistake by moving on from “Here Come The Girls” it had possibly had its time but for me “Smalltown Boy” just doesn’t feel right for this Boots Christmas Campaign, I have no idea what it says about the brand and it says nothing about Christmas. To me it feels like someone has written a script about a boy who is a bit of a tearaway and lives in a small town, titled it “Small Town Boy” and then had a eureka moment on Spotify. On the upside at least they’ve not done a slow cover of it featuring a female vocal and an orchestra.