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Christmas campaigns
Christmas campaigns

Amelia Teo

Holiday advertising and what brands can learn from it

Christmas is drawing near and as it does, our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kinship. The excitement of Christmas is not exclusive to those who still believe in Santa Claus and perhaps, we all eagerly anticipate the holidays because once a year, we all get to become children again. Along with the fairy lights and Christmas trees that seemingly appear overnight, holiday advertising becomes another common sight that makes us look forward to the holiday season.

Despite the religious origins of Christmas, festive advertising campaigns draw on the warm and tingly feelings that we associate with the holiday. Companies can tap on these innate and inevitable emotions that people associate with family and ultimately, Christmas. In this regard, festive advertising can be a way for faceless companies to become more humanised to consumers when they draw the implicit link between a company’s advertisements and the warmth and familiarity of their own relationships.

Advertising becomes less about the actual products, but aims to invoke the sensation of special and familiar family moments. Advertisements thus stop selling products but rather, start selling more intangible (and arguably, more powerful) aspects of the company such as their beliefs and values. Even though there is a step away from product pushing, it is still important to maintain relevance to the target audience. The key here, would then be to create some kind of association between Christmas and what the company is selling. For instance, a restaurant can market itself as a place with the perfect ambience for a heartwarming family dinner while a shipping company could market itself as the fail-proof method to get your Christmas gifts delivered on time.

Employing the Christmas narrative

A Christmas tree decorated with ornaments. The narrative of the holiday is typically used in holiday advertising.

A major feature of effective Christmas advertising is having a strong narrative. A simple story with a consistent core message makes it easy for consumers to relate the advertisement to their own personal experiences. Like how we can become children again during the festive period. The stories used in advertisements tend to be magical and imaginative and appeal to the kids in all of us. And as long as the fundamental message and associated feelings of these stories are universally relatable, a connection with the consumer can be established regardless their age. This, after all, is what every successful brand campaign should and need to do: Push not products but an emotional connection.

Here are 3 of my favourite Christmas brand campaigns that I think have gotten it right. They establish a strong emotional connection with audiences, by reminding us of our childhood and reconnecting us to long forgotten feelings of wonder and magic, propelled by a strong narrative core, urging us that this is as good a time as any to make a wish and make-believe:

1. Marks & Spencer’s #MagicandSparkle

The campaign takes on a fantastical fairytale theme and demonstrates how a brand uses fairy tales to remind adults about their childhood – a time of wonder and magic.

2. Samsung’s #HolidayDreams

Samsung Mobile built a synchronised dreamscape out of 74 different devices to tell the story of a young girl’s holiday dream. It takes the viewer on a journey through magical worlds as part of their holiday advertising campaign.

3. John Lewis’s #MontythePenguin

The story of magic and love, following a little boy and his pet penguin Monty’s fantasy relationship that allows us to indulge in the magic of make-believe through a child’s eyes. Absolutely heartwarming and makes me look forward to celebrating the festive season with my loved ones!

We all had that one comfort toy with knotty fur and a quirky smell; we all remember a Monty. But how many inspirational non-holiday campaigns can you recall in recent years? Perhaps brands should consider injecting a little more magic into advertising, not just once during the festive season, but throughout the year. After all, all of us can do with a little wonder and magic throughout our lives. Happy holidays, everyone!