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Holiday Advertising At Its Best

holiday advertising - AMS FulfillmentThe holidays are upon us again!  It’s the season when we come introspective and crave family time, home-cooked meals, and holiday classic shows and movies. For most of us, the holidays are a joyous time filled with family, friends, and love.

Maybe it is me, but I love holiday marketing campaigns! They evoke a range of emotions from joy to sadness to longing – and mostly in less than five minutes.

What Makes a Successful Holiday Marketing Campaign?

Businesses know that tugging on our heartstrings during the Holiday Season can result in more brand awareness and increased sales.  But what makes successful holiday marketing campaigns?

The simplistic answer is – know your audience.  But there is so much more that goes into a holiday campaign.  Like any other marketing campaign, you need to establish goals and metrics first. What do you want to accomplish with your holiday campaign? Are you only wanting brand awareness or conversions?  What is your definition of conversion – are you looking to build your database and social followers, or do you want to sell more products or both? 

By defining the goals and establishing KPIs and metrics, you will be able to provide better reporting and analytics. You’ll be able to review the campaign and see where you were successful and where you fell short.  In recent years, marketing has become more metric-driven, so make sure you establish goals and metrics.

After establishing your KPIs, you need to determine what feelings you want to convey in your messaging.  It’s the holidays, so many of the feelings will be happiness, joy, comfort, laughter, or longing for family and traditions.  Reverse engineer your holiday campaigns to convey those feelings.

As you are reverse engineering your campaign – remember to embrace emotional marketing.  This is the holidays after all!  Conveying feelings is a good thing this time of year.  In fact, some of the most successful holiday campaigns have left consumers in tears, reaching for the phone to call their loved ones.

Should You Leave them in Tears?

As long as they are tears of joy, why not?  It’s the holidays! And holidays are about family, tradition, and happiness.

You have about 90 seconds to tell your story. Make sure to leverage video, images, and music to tell the story.  Many of the top successful holiday marketing campaigns have achieved this in less than 90 seconds. Make sure the story is authentic and direct.  Authenticity is vital to connect with the audience.

Whatever holiday story you decide to tell, it needs to reflect your company’s core values.  If you are a B Corporation, one of the core values is sustainability. Incorporating sustainability into the holiday campaign will forever link the holiday advertising campaign to your company.

What is the Best form of Marketing for the Holidays?

Successful holiday advertising campaigns incorporate a variety of methods from TV, and email marketing, to video and social media advertising.  Leveraging as many mediums as possible is ideal, however, most companies do not have the same budgets as major corporations.  So, how do you advertise for the holidays?

Video and social media are top options and should be a priority.  Video consumption has risen over the years. In fact, almost 66% of consumers prefer to watch a short video.  People generally average watching video content for over 16 hours per week.  And your message sticks – an astonishing 95% of consumers absorb almost 95% of the message!  So, whatever you do – ensure video marketing is a top priority.

The great thing about videos – they can be broken down and used in other marketing areas such as social media. 

The Top 10 Best Holiday Marketing Campaigns

  1. Folger’s
  2. Hershey’s Original Holiday Commercial
  3. REI #OptOutside
  4. Apple – Misunderstood
  5. IKEA- The Other Letter
  6. WestJet – Miracle in Real Time
  7. USPS 2020
  8. Corona
  9. Budweiser 2005 snowball fight
  10. Icelandic Water

Let’s see what makes these the top ten holiday marketing campaigns.

Folger’s – Peter Comes Home for the Holidays (1985)

I put this commercial first because my love of coffee is legendary.

Waking up to freshly brewed coffee is always a good thing.  Waking up on Christmas morning and finding that your son, who appears wasn’t going to make Christmas, had made the coffee, is amazing.

Folger’s did an excellent job of incorporating their everyday commercial music in this holiday advertising example. The message is clear, succinct, and relatable.  It evokes anticipation, happiness, joy, and lastly celebration. 

From the minute Peter gets out of the car and finds his little sister and includes her in his secret to the moment the mother sees her son, Folger’s conveyed several emotions in 47 seconds.

Hershey’s Kisses Original Holiday Commercial

Originally airing in 1989, the Hershey’s Kisses holiday commercial is the longest-running commercial ever. And it almost never happened.

According to Hershey Archives, John Dunn, a brand manager, wanted to create a holiday commercial but didn’t have his boss’ approval yet.  Seizing an opportunity, Dunn created the simplistic, 16-second commercial.

The Kisses are arranged in a tree, with a “conductor” as the trunk – and for the next 16 seconds, leads the Kisses in We wish You a Merry Christmas with a flourish of a finish.  It’s simple, short, and very memorable.

Fast forward to 2020 – a year I think most of us would like to forget or at least get a do-over.

In an effort to modernize the classic holiday advertisement, Hershey’s changed the ending.  The backlash was so significant, that Hershey had to bring back the original ad. By giving the commercial a makeover, Hershey’s “messed with” tradition.  The feelings of nostalgia were gone.  And consumers were extremely upset.

For 29 years, the original ad ran.  In fact, Millennials and Generation Z would not have known a different Hershey’s Kiss holiday commercial! 

I read an article one time, many years ago, that since Hershey’s was running the same ad for so long, the company decided to give their employees the budget allotted to a holiday campaign in the form of a bonus.  The story of this advertisement really embodies the best holiday marketing campaigns ever.

REI #OptOutside

Between 2006 and 2021, Black Friday violence left 17 people dead and 125 injured.  In fact, there is a whole website dedicated to a Black Friday death count.

This is a tragic way to start the holiday season.

In 2015, REI announced that they were closing their stores and shutting down their online stores on Black Friday.  Instead, they encouraged their customers to spend their Black Friday outside with their families.

#OptOut has had a huge impact. Over 150 businesses joined the movement and closed on Black Friday.  Hundreds of State Parks opened their gates for free. The movement inspired millions of people to forego shopping and spend time outside with their families and friends. 

This ingenious holiday marketing campaign has continued over the years, and in 2022 REI announced that it is permanent – REI will always be closed on Black Friday.

The holiday season is and always has been about family and friends.  What better way to start the holidays than unplugged, outdoors with the people you cherish?

Apple – Misunderstood (2013)

Apple has always been on the cutting edge of advertising. This 2013 holiday campaign may not be as revolutionary as their 1984 Super Bowl ad, but it is impactful for the holiday season.

Misunderstood is a perfect title for this campaign. As many teens would rather be with their friends than with their families.  After all, parents are not always the most fun to be around!

This ad leads the viewer through a range of emotions – from disappointment to elation and lastly pride.

Teens are notorious for spending time on their phones and checking social media.  In this holiday advertisement, Apple features a young teen that is always on his phone. Meanwhile, you see his family playing in the snow, decorating a tree, and enjoying each other’s company.

The viewer is led to believe that the teen is antisocial and has no ambition to be with his family – until the end of the commercial.  When the teen plays a video he put together of all the family holiday moments.

IKEA- The Other Letter (aired in Spain)

Kids love Christmas morning. In fact, it is probably the one day of the year that all children wake up before their parents!

For young kids, the Holiday Season really is about the presents under the tree.  Or is it?

IKEA put this question to the test. 

Young children were asked to write a letter to Santa and another letter to their parents. While the children’s letters to Santa involved receiving physical gifts and were easy to write. The letter to the parents proved much more difficult.

When the moderator told the children that only one letter could be sent, the children overwhelmingly selected the letter to the parents.

Upon reading the letters, the parents teared up while realizing that their children didn’t want more “stuff”, but more quality time.

IKEA knocked this holiday campaign out of the park.  Many of us go through life trying to provide our children with the things they want – new games, new phones, and new toys.  When in reality, the children want to spend more time with their parents. 

Funny as we grow older, we don’t care about getting gifts, but rather care about spending time with family and friends.  The heart-warming holiday message here is to embrace the values of the holiday spirit year-round.  This holiday advertising campaign shouldn’t just air in December – it’s a year-long message many parents need to hear.

WestJet – Miracle in Real Time

WestJet is known for its innovative marketing campaigns.  And this holiday campaign would make any adult believe in Santa Claus!

The simplicity of this campaign appears easy to pull off – ask people what they want for the holidays and purchase it.  But asking a planeload of travelers what they want for Christmas and coordinating the purchase, wrapping, and delivery of the gifts in a couple of hours is no easy feat. 

But this is exactly what the WestJet “elves” did.

Adults and children alike were amazed by the gifts on the baggage carousel.  WestJet’s creative Christmas marketing campaign brought tears of awe, joy, and happiness to several families, and isn’t that what the holidays are about? Recapturing the wonder of the holidays?

USPS 2020

For many people, 2020 was a year that we would all like to forget. It’s a year of dichotomy – some professions like healthcare and logistics employees worked tirelessly, while other professions such as travel and hospitality employees were sidelined.

This USPS holiday marketing campaign was successful in many ways – it highlighted the old USPS unofficial marketing message “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

At a time where people were not able to travel, this holiday marketing message brought on a whole new meaning – if you couldn’t be physically together for the holidays, you could be represented in thought through cards and gifts that the USPS delivered.

And this isn’t recognized or said enough – to the USPS and truck drivers – you are the backbone of America – thank you for keeping us connected!

Corona – O Tannenpalm – 1990 and counting!

Corona has been airing this holiday campaign since 1990.  It is the 3rd longest-running commercial of all time (Not too far behind the Hershey’s holiday commercial!). And why change what is working? 

This successful holiday marketing campaign only cost $50,000 to make.  Any business would love to have the ROI on this campaign!  In 2015, Corona revealed that this holiday commercial was somewhat difficult to make – the area was marshy, and to make matters worse, it was an area where alligators hunted at night.  Thankfully, there were no injuries.

This holiday commercial transports people to a simple time.  Who wouldn’t want to relax on a beach on Christmas?

Budweiser Snowball Fight 2005

There are few animals more iconic that the Budweiser Clydesdales. And there are even fewer things in life than watching adults “one-up” youngsters!  In this 2005 holiday commercial, Budweiser combined these two themes and produced the Snowball Fight. For adults, it was humorous and lighthearted to see the adult Clydesdales douse the youngsters from a snow-covered tree!

This December marketing campaign is timeless. There are many people who watched this holiday advertisement and probably wanted to open a Bud saying “yup, I get it.”

Icelandic Water

Let’s end these top ten best holiday marketing campaigns with Icelandic Water.

We all want to feel the magic of the holiday season and we all want to something special for the holidays – why can’t this holiday gift be an extremely hunky Santa and stunning Mrs. Claus?

If drinking Icelandic Water resulted in seeing this image, most adults would be drinking Icelandic Water.

How to Promote a Holiday?

So what is the best form of marketing for the holiday?

There are four main things to keep in mind when creating a holiday campaign.

  1. Tie your message to your brand value – consistency is important.
  2. Know your audience – marketers need to understand their consumers. Hershey’s underestimated their audience in 2020 when they updated their iconic commercial, leading them to reinstate the original holiday campaign.
  3. Know what feelings you want to evoke in the audience. This goes along with knowing your audience. If your audience is predominantly Baby Boomers, try to evoke feelings of nostalgia.
  4. Placement and timing – It’s important to know where your audience is searching and when they are searching. Pew Research did a breakdown of social media usage by age group. Make sure you place your ads on the appropriate channels for your demographic.

Happy Holidays from AMS Fulfillment!

AMS Fulfillment wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday! Contact Us today for any of the fulfillment services that you may need to get your customers their orders as quickly and efficiently as possible for the holiday shopping season.



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