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Digital execution: Lessons from Mrs Claus

As a Digital Learning Specialist with a large interest in video production and storytelling, I followed with interest the Christmas adverts as they unfolded over the weekend. Looking at and drawing inspiration from big productions like these is something that I believe helps us to drive up standards in digital learning. Whilst we haven't got those big production budgets there are always clues as to what we can do to turn our digital dials up, I’ve previously referred to this this as digital doughnut thinking.

It’s been tradition over years for many to look forward to seeing what retailer John Lewis comes up with for their Christmas advert. Each year they’ve created stunning adverts and having seen this year's, they haven't disappointed again. Towards the end of last week, they un-wrapped this year’s advert on social media followed by a run of TV showings over the weekend. If you’ve not yet met #BusterTheBoxer, where have you been? Lined up in the wings were other retailers ready to show their creations. The next I came across was Aldi with their amusing tale of #KevinTheCarrot, closely followed by the magical story of Mrs Claus delivered by M&S in their #LoveMrsClaus campaign.

Choosing a favourite wasn’t easy though. With high production values, budgets and expertise coupled with brilliant writing, they all connected well with the emotions of their audiences. In a poll that I followed over the weekend asking people to choose their favourite, the scores this morning were pretty even across the three. However, particularly when all this premiered on Saturday night, it was#LoveMrsClaus that got the votes. It's not just the magical story where Mrs Claus, who we haven't really seen over the years, was unveilled. It wasn't just the incredible secret agent style where she flew off in that helicopter like a female Bond. There was something else that made it pack a punch.

Execution.

Whilst the other retailers were snoozing on social media, Marks and Spencer and indeed Mrs Claus herself were all over it. Aldi’s Twitter presence lay dormant, closed outside the usual hours of business. Similar for John Lewis, not a sole in sight as people raved about #BusterTheBoxer. But meanwhile, the Twitter profile of M&S lit up for the evening, They planted Mrs Claus there directly responding to tweets. M&S changed their Twitter image to one of Mrs Claus and gave her the job title ‘Head of Christmas Operations.‘Thank you my darling, Merry Christmas to you’ and ‘That’s lovely, you’re straight onto the nice list this year’ were amongst the comments she made. She pulled in a long night shift. 

So to be true to my digital doughnut thinking, what can be learned from this when it comes to digital learning?

It’s simple.

We can all produce the most beautiful pieces of digital content our skills and budgets stretch to. We'll put the best effort into planning and production that we possibly can. But for me it’s not just about creation. Execution is hugely important. It's not just about creating a nice video, an engaging piece of e-learning or a bite size online resource. Much thought effort and planning must go into execution. How will it be shared? How will we support people? Where does the conversation continue? Who's there to support?

When it comes to digital learning, think like a marketeer when it comes to execution. It’s the often neglected yet vital stage of digital projects that requires just as much thought and planning from the offset as the storyboard, creation and production.

And whilst we’re on the subject of great adverts, keep your eye out for DPG’s new advert for our CIPD Level 5 HRM Online Programme coming soon. It's a good one.

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