Every year as festive seasons approach, consumers all over the world are flooded with a frenzy of marketing campaigns by brands looking to get a slice of the multi-billion dollar holiday shopping pie.
At the heart of the annual holiday marketing procession are the powerful Christmas ads. From Cadbury’s play on the “Secret Santa” ritual backed by an emotive soundtrack, to Heathrow airport’s adorable portrayal of an elderly bear couple coming home to celebrate with their family, brands are creating authentic association with consumers by showing them how a product or service can bring them closer to the people they love.
For giants like Coca-Cola, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer, this is now an annual tradition and year after year, consumers wait with bated breath to see the campaigns launched by these iconic brands. In fact, there is so much frenzy around Christmas ads, that every year, thousands of Twitter users mistakenly reach out to a U.S. based science lecturer John Lewis instead of the British departmental store by the same name. Twitter released a cheeky film around this last year showing Lewis painstakingly responding to the messages and giving us all some laughs.
But there’s a reason aside from emotional responses for these ads. Research has shown that consumers are inclined to spend more during festive periods (blame it on the holiday cheer!) and this presents a prime opportunity for brands to boost sales by capitalising on the increased purchasing power. Brands spend considerable time, money and resources to develop creative campaigns that cut through the clutter and grab consumer attention. But do these ads work?
The short answer is yes, they do. The festive air is rife with nostalgia, and ads with an emotional overtone strike a chord with consumers. This aids in customers forming deeper associations with brands –improving brand awareness and perception, and increasing consumers’ likelihood to purchase.
In terms of business results, well-executed campaigns that are emotionally engaging, and relevant to the occasion – with a clear association to the company’s product or service – do well. In terms of brand engagement and, more importantly, in terms of sales – Tesco, as an example, saw a 2.2% rise in UK sales following their successful 2018 Christmas ad.
Closer to home, Chinese New Year is one the biggest annual celebrations, and this year’s Singtel ad adopted a family-focused narrative that showed three young ‘CNY absconders’ who fly to Australia to avoid the traditions of Lunar New Year celebrations. Their joy at escaping their family during this festive time quickly turns to nostalgia, when one of them discovers a letter from her mother in her suitcase amidst clothes and jars full of homemade snacks.
While some brands tell powerful fictional stories, Indian jewellery brand Tanishq’sDiwali ad took viewers into the home of a leading film actress to show her family celebrating the festival in a simple manner – cleaning the house, making sweets and untangling lights. In a country where film actors are practically worshipped, the depiction of a mega star being grounded in her roots and celebrating the country’s biggest festival with family and simple traditions struck all the right chords.
As more brands jump onto the holiday marketing bandwagon, this is not just limited to mainstream celebrations anymore. Almost every major calendar event sees marketers creating specifically tailored campaigns, such as this Mother’s Day ad by Boots and Budweiser’s decision to remake old ads for International Women’s Day. A Valentine’s Day ad by Borosil India took a non-traditional approach to the day of love by featuring a young couple celebrating their first ever V-Day following the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India – another beautiful ad that celebrates a holiday as well as a cultural moment.
So, what makes a good holiday campaign? From animation and celebrity endorsement to good ol’ storytelling, brands are embracing different strategies for their year-round holiday marketing.
The key is simple: take basic human insight that is aligned with the brand’s core values and peg it to a relevant event to create an authentic association with the celebration.
Getting this formula right will not only bring immediate results in terms of engagement and sales, but the benefits of an effective campaign will extend long beyond the holiday itself, building a stronger brand identity and influencing purchase decisions in the long run.