Deck the web with…holiday and Christmas ads. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
That may not be how the lyrics go, but that’s how the world of marketing looks right now. From social to print and everywhere in between, brands are using markers of the holidays to draw in the crowds.
This time of year brings about some of the most memorable advertisements (Superbowl excluded!), which makes sense considering the holidays can bring in a lot of money for businesses big and small.
But what makes some Christmas ads shine above the rest? Grab a mug of hot chocolate, don your “gay apparel” and read on to see our favorite holiday ads, ranging from video commercials to Instagram posts.
Turn on your radio and you’ll hear holiday music. Go into a store, and they’re playing the same festal tunes. Heck, check out your favourite online clothing store homepage design, and you're bound to find garlands or snowflakes plastered all over it. It seems like everywhere you go, you hear those sleigh bells jingling. Eventually, you start to tune it out.
Holiday and Christmas ads are like that — we expect them and stop paying attention after a while. As soon as the lilting rhythm of a bell chimes or the first animated snowflake falls, we know what’s coming. Advertisers have the challenge of finding ways to push past the perpetual joviality to really speak to the consumer.
So what makes a standout ad? The formula isn’t much different than regular ads, but it does lean more on the sentimentality of the season.
Because consumers are wary of the commercialization of the holidays, brands need to lean on their own values. Connecting with the “true meaning” of the season is important, which is why themes like families gathering together, philanthropy and giving are popular.
Think about your corporate culture. Is your company fun and young? Hip and techie? Established and trusted? Whatever the spirit of your company is, the holidays are an important time to show it. Bring that unique company spirit into your holiday ads and campaigns, and own it. Customers value authenticity.
This is one of those advertising staples, but it has to be said. In normal advertising, your CTA may simply be a visit to your website. During the holidays, though, it needs to be more targeted. Don’t forget, you’re working against the clock. Once the holiday season is over, sales slump, so make the best of this time.
TIP: If your sale, promotion or holiday special is time-based, make that clear in your CTA.
Remember: Not every message to customers has to be an advertisement. Perhaps on Christmas Eve, you may want to simply wish your followers a Merry Christmas. That’s okay! The most important factor in a holiday ad is how it resonates with your target audience. So lean in on the sentiment. Evoke nostalgia. Make people laugh. Bring a tear to their eye. The holidays are steeped in tradition, and tradition is built on sentiment.
It’s easy to jump on the festive bandwagon, so just ensure that whatever holiday content you’re creating (ads, poster designs, emails, social and alike), you’re staying on brand. Think carefully about what design style you want to use in your ad, and ensure that it matches with your brand guidelines.
It seems silly now to say, but in case you hadn’t heard, the power of advertising on social media cannot be underestimated. There are many great reasons for social media marketing, and running holiday and Christmas campaigns can fit right into your strategy.
One might even argue that social is the best place for seasonal advertisements. It is near-instant messaging to targeted audiences, allowing you to adjust and retarget as the ad runs. So, who’s doing it best?
A perennial holiday favorite (and not just for their coffee flavors), Starbucks drills down on the festivities with new cups and a marked change in their Instagram social campaigns. Staying true to their seasonality, the big coffee chain has switched to a red and green aesthetic with added snowy accents.
Our favorite from the bunch is their adorable snowman animation that proposes using their snowman cake pop as the head for a tiny snowman. There’s no music, just a green knit mitten rolling up snowballs. It delivers nostalgia for those with memories of playing in the snow, and a desire to taste the wintery treat.
Sephora chose a funny, timely social image on December 16th that followed several product posts. In it, Sephora reminds viewers that their holiday shopping days are numbered. The image is of actual reminder notifications on a festive green background, telling the reader how many days they have left to do their holiday shopping.
The most recent reminder puts the shopper squarely in the “danger zone” of buying and creates an urgency to get it done. And since it is surrounded by Sephora products, it’s clear with this social campaign where to go now that you’re overdue for shopping.
A “targeted” campaign (see what we did there?) by Target is all about families this Christmas season. Leaning in on family values, they’ve created the hashtag #targetlittles and a Facebook group called Target Fam. The hashtag is aimed at getting mothers and fathers to share “raising them right” pictures of their kids shopping with them at Target, and the group is for parenting support (provided with help from Target, of course).
But this alone doesn’t make up the holiday campaign. They also have copy on banners and posts such as, “however you celebrate, we’re thinking of you,” and “you can find us right here all winter long” with Christmas-y illustrations. And the socks in the image are for sale — which they are sure to point out in the comments.
Holiday video ads used to be exclusive to television., and Ffor two solid minutes, you would be bombardedinundated with snow, jingle bells, and holiday sales. But now, holiday video ads can be in many places other than TV — social media, YouTube, billboards, store displays and more.
This traditional way of appealing to consumers follows the same rules of sentimentality and cheerfulness as other ads. BelowHere, we’ve collected some that truly inspire for 2019.
In a world of cuteness-overload, OREO still knowsknew how to make us “aww.” The ad features an elf who comes into a gas station to buy OREO cookies for Santa while he’s out delivering packages. He brings a large orange soda and the cookies up to the register, but the cashier, both surprised and thrilled at his customer, suggests maybe the elf has never tried an OREO and gets out milk instead.
In the end, the elf invites the cashier onto the sleigh. Throughout the ad, OREO leans on the magic of the season, child-like wonder (in both the cashier and the elf) and playfulness — which happens to be OREO’s global ad campaign right now. It’s also a smart way of telling people Santa likes OREOs (the elf has an absolute armload of them), so they should put them out on Christmas Eve.
Oh, Kevin the Carrot. Now an annual staple (this is his fourth year mascoting for ALDI during the holidays), Kevin the Carrot’s stories have become much loved. This year, he was awarded Most Effective Christmas Ad of 2019 having won out in brand building, differentiation and most emotional.
ALDI uses the success of and emotional reaction to The Greatest Showman to give us a story on a ringleader carrot (Kevin, of course) who just wants to put on a good show. Aggressive brussels sprouts try to bring him down, but they are unsuccessful. The circus takes places around a delicious-looking holiday meal. The final copy, “Put on an amazing show this Christmas” reminds consumers they can make a great holiday meal with food from ALDI.
Good luck saying “bah humbug” to John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners holiday video ad! With the fantasy genre taking center stage in many hearts (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Baby Yoda), John Lewis made the right decision with a little dragon who loved the holidays.
Unfortunately for him, his uncontrollable fire spouting (a result of excitement) seemed to ruin everything wintery. Melted ice ponds, a burned down Christmas tree and the loss of the town’s Frosty all led to him feeling isolated and sad that he was ruining the festivities. But his little friend never gave up on him, as she brought him to the holiday dinner to light the Christmas pudding.
The dragon is adorable, and the ad plays perfectly on themes of family, friendship and togetherness.
If you’re anything like everyone with an email address, you get tons of holiday emails from brands you’ve signed up with during this season. Holiday email campaigns pair well with advertisements because they provide an added touchpoint and lead the consumer directly to the point of purchase. Here are two that we’re impressed with this season.
Burlington is known for being an affordable shopping destination for families looking for bargains on name brand clothes. Their aftermarket assortment keeps consumers looking good without breaking the bank. So when they send out an email about a New Year’s dress, you’ve gotta check it out.
Inside the email is a fun, confetti-filled GIF that immediately sparks interest and makes you want to see what snazzy attire they have for ringing in 2020.
Motion or animation in emails is always a good idea, and Burlington Coat Factory did a great job of sparking some new years excitement with this email.
Who doesn’t love a little Harry Potter swag? Playing on the magical aspect of the holidays, and the fact that all Potterheads would love to have a gift from Hogwarts, Hot Topic entices consumers to open their email. It’s all part of their Holidaze Countdown where shoppers can get deals on branded merch during the 12 days of Christmas.
This is a campaign that keeps shoppers clicking the emails to see what deals they can get. And they make a better user experience by giving a countdown to Christmas and deadline for ordering products at the top of the email.
The holidays can be a wonderful time of year. They fill us with a heaping tablespoon of nostalgia, a cup of cheer and a dash of magic. All the perfect recipe for warmth, joy and good times with family and friends. Consumers want to remember the magic of the season, and great ads that drive them to your perfect gift options are one way to accomplish that. But with all the noise from other companies, it’s important to stand out!
In a pinch to get a last minute holiday ad out? Our team at Superside can help. With turnaround times starting at 12 hours, we’ll have your campaign ready to run in no time. Book a call to learn more.
We sat down with Bill Macaitis, former Slack CMO, to chat about what it takes to success with ad design. Hear his tips and more in this Q&A style interview!