Christmas is not the time to sell. It is the time to build connections. We decoded some much loved Christmas campaigns to uncover some insightful marketing lessons.
When is the first day of fall? When Starbucks starts serving Pumpkin spice lattes. When is it time to start decorating and shopping for Christmas? For most of the UK, it is when John Lewis stuns them with its latest Christmas commercial. That’s when they know, Christmas is coming.
Brands tell us beautiful stories on Christmas. It’s advertising and brand positioning at its best. You may not be visiting your family for Christmas, and you may not be spending anytime cozying up next to a fireplace while having egg nog. But you live all those Christmas moments with the campaigns that your favourite brands target you with. These stories speak a lot about marketing.
Marketing Lesson #1. Don’t show your product. Let them look for it.
Whatever, the CTA, a great campaign should give a hashtag that gets immensely popular on social media and a reason to check the website. But it should not directly show the product. Let’s take John Lewis as an example. Every Christmas, John Lewis gives its customers a new “animal” to fall in love with. Do you remember the lonely little penguin from last Christmas? This year #BusterTheBoxer wants you to gift something, everyone will love.
In the commercial or on the landing page, there is no mention of what John Lewis is offering this Christmas, what’s new or where to buy. You can almost mistake it to be a social campaign telling you to be thoughtful while buying your Christmas gifts. Which is why you are curious to hit the hashtag or click the URL to continue the story. A little information, isn’t always a dangerous thing, eh?
Marketing Lesson #2. Offer an experience, not a solution
In marketing we always say, don’t offer the product, offer the solution. But that has long changed. For instance, it seems highly unlikely that John Lewis’ marketing team was given some plush toys and then asked to create a campaign around them. The toys emerged as an opportunity from the experience the campaign offered.
When we click to continue the story of #BusterTheBoxer, we get a chance to experience the toys in action, become a part of their lives. We meet Bridget the girl who loves to jump, and Buster & friends who discover that they would love a trampoline too. We can download the soundtrack, visit Buster’s garden virtually, donate to a wildlife protecting organization, the list is long. The campaign just opens up whole new opportunities for selling. And we don’t even know we are being sold to. That’s the experience you wish to create with your advertising efforts.
Marketing Lesson #3. Everyone’s a sucker for emotions
H&M’s 2015 Christmas campaign featured pop singer Katy Perry as a sugar plum fairy in a sparkly world of gingerbread men and tin soldiers. This year too, they have kept the celebrity factor intact by roping in cinematic legend Wes Anderson to direct their holiday commercial starring oscar winning actor Adrien Brody. But they have moved from glamorous to emotional. The commercial does not show anything even remotely related to their products and instead talks about togetherness on Christmas eve. Emotions, rule.
Think how you can apply them to your marketing creatives and ads. Look how Starbucks sends an email when you give someone their gift card. They leave you feeling so good, you want to do it again.
Marketing Lesson #4. Tap the restlessness
There is always something that is unsettling in an economy. It could be elections, or some political move as big as the Brexit or some new law enforcement. Try to use such massive social movements to your advantage.
Did you notice what Amazon has done for Christmas?
Very subtly and beautifully it has touched the topic of multiculturalism and emerged as a brand for the liberal middle class. It has made its stand very clear without being in your face or boring.
Marketing Lesson #5. Do the unexpected
What do you expect from a standard google display ad? Don’t do that. Consider your customer intelligent. He will appreciate you for it. Do something unrelated and surprising and let the customer be curious to look for more.
John Lewis does this each time. It tells the story from a perspective unimagined. Last year it was a little plush toy getting lonely. This year it was the family’s dog secretly wanting to jump on the bed with his human. Such perspectives tell new stories and break the clutter. And we can easily apply them to digital marketing campaigns, they work everywhere and not just video advertising.
Do you remember what Air Canada did for last Christmas?
According to the brand, Canadians living in London frequent a bar called the Maple Leaf to “gather for a taste of home.” In the video, two Air Canada pilots enter the pub and give roundtrip tickets to everyone to go back to Canada for the holiday season. The campaign invites consumers to follow their stories with #ACgiftofhome. You’d expect an airline to give promotions around Christmas, but you wouldn’t expect them to turn up at a popular pub to do that!
Zazzle did an amazing job with this email to invite attention to its cool products without making them look too daunting. This campaign was called Haha Holidays.
It’s your turn now
Christmas is the perfect time to learn. And studying some of these campaigns sure has inspired us to do some fresh thinking on our text ads, display ads, emailers, social media campaigns, everything. Do you think this article inspired you too? Share it with others to spread the fresh. Do leave us your comments on our Facebook or Twitter. If you are a cool company, looking for fresh marketing? Get in touch with us here.