Early-year UK print advertising focused on holidays, sports

By Lewis Boulton


London, United Kingdom


We hear a lot about predictions this time of year. You’ve heard two of them from me in previous Januarys (2022 and 2023 — both about the importance of digital, so hardly original!). However, with the first month of 2024 already over and more than enough industry columnists and researchers gazing into their crystal balls, I think I’ll leave the predictions to the professionals this year.

Instead, as difficult and concerning topics ranging from misinformation and deep fakery to economic pressures and worldwide conflicts continue to dominate the industry and wider news agendas, I’m using my first submission for 2024 to explore what readers and advertisers will be looking forward to over the next six months.

With the news inherently timely in and of itself, publishers provide valuable context in which to speak to readers about events and priorities that matter to them at that moment in time — whether that’s following the cup final, booking their next getaway, or making sure their money works for them in a new financial year.

Here's a look at what readers will be most interested in for the first six months of 2024, along with top campaigns to get the creative juices flowing.

January: Holiday season

Early nights, rainy mornings … once the Christmas decorations go back in the attic, Britain in winter doesn’t always inspire the best of moods.

It’s no surprise at all, then, that January is when searches for getaways to warmer climes reach their peak. While the first month of the year might already be behind us, the underwhelming weather at home will still continue to inspire travel plans abroad.

Travel brands have the advantage of beautiful scenery and irresistible destinations to win over wander-lusting readers — Brittany Ferries leans into gorgeous imagery from Mont St Michel and sparkling Spanish beaches. The destination doesn’t always have to be the message, however, as British Airways Holiday’s fantastic “out of office” campaigns attest.

February: Spreading the love

It comes around at the same time every year and somehow it still catches many an unsuspecting partner unaware! Whether it’s a beautiful bouquet, a slap-up home-cooked dinner, or something on the finer side, tactical campaigns in news brands are ready to lend a helping hand on Valentine’s Day.

With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to bite last year, supermarkets’ campaigns focussed on spreading the love for less. Morrisons’ ads were particularly memorable for their witty copy. I probably wouldn’t recommend those three words to your partner, though …

March: Spring forward

Throw open the curtains! When the clocks go forward, warmer days come back. March is often a good time for reflection and family, with Easter, Ramadan, and Mothering Sunday all falling earlier in 2024.

At this time of year, our stand-out ad galleries showcase plenty of ads from fashion brands bringing new collections to readers’ wardrobes. This Levi’s double-page spread from 2023 perfectly captures the new spring feeling.

April: New Year, new finances

By their own admission, financial services advertisers aren’t known for being the most enthralling brands in the world (“low interest” is what the brands themselves prefer to call it). But that doesn’t mean they’re unimportant, particularly for news brand readers eager to make sure their money goes further in a confusing financial landscape.

With the tax year renewing on April 6, many brands choose this time to raise awareness of how they can help readers save money.

The challenge is how to do this in a way that remains engaging, approachable, and helpful for possible consumers. Ads like Aviva’s contextual “solving financial puzzles” series or this retro campaign from The Current Account Switch Service aim to bring a bit of the human touch to conversations around money.

May: Kick off

The summer of sport truly kicks off in May, with plenty of high-stakes action from big cup finals and Formula One in Monaco leading into Wimbledon, the men’s European football tournament in Germany and, of course, the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.

Sporting moments are often unparalleled at bringing the nation together, with television particularly front and centre at getting readers behind the box for the big game. Channel 4’s ad for last year’s European Championship qualifiers is simple and clear, emphasising where the true action is: on the pitch.

June: Summer of sound

If May is the starting gun for the summer of sport, June is the start of the summer of sound, with the United Kingdom’s biggest music festivals getting underway across the country.

Whether it’s rock at Donington’s Download Festival, pop legends from the past on the Isle of Wight, or international music royalty at Glasto, it’s time to fish out your tent and wellies from the garage and head for the fields.

New releases often make great news brand advertising because they can lean into beautiful artwork or brilliant digital stunts. Maisie Peters and Lana Del Rey both use digital wraps to brilliant effect, while Lewis Capaldi’s campaign might be many things, but it certainly isn’t forgettable!

About Lewis Boulton

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