Welp. Much like the controversial arrival of pumpkin spice lattes in August, and the couple whose home owner’s association told them to take down their Christmas decorations, the holiday campaigns have arrived a bit too early for some of us this season. Although I was pretty annoyed when Lifetime began playing holiday movies as early as October, I was, selfishly, happy to get a glimpse of the holiday ads a bit early this year.
Let’s see what some of the holiday themes seem to be so far.
IMAGINATIVE WHIMSY LEADS THE WAY
Campaigns around this time of year often focus on displaying the best aspects of the holidays: sharing moments of joy, being with family, being thankful, and cherishing moments and memories with loved ones. This year, brands are honoring these time-honored holidays campaign-traditions but are choosing to do so through the lens of modernized magical worlds filled with fun, animation and whimsy. What’s even more noticeable is that for many brands, the story lines are being lead by women & girls. What could be driving these themes?
NOSTALGIA CREATES AN ESCAPE ROUTE FOR MODERN CONSUMERS
With the release and excitement around Disney Plus and Netflix’s announcement of procuring Nickelodeon, it seems that we are incapable of moving forward without bringing the favorite parts of our childhoods along with us. This need to capture and cherish the past is likely due to todays’ consumers feeling trapped by impending economic uncertainty and increasingly polarized political climates. Overall, It seems that there is a collective need for an escape from our newsfeeds and the reality of our days, and what better way to do that than to step into the world of our childhood imaginations where nothing is impossible?
Let’s take a look to see how brands have incorporated magic and childlike wonder into this year’s holiday campaigns.
MAGICAL SOLUTIONS FOR PRACTICAL NEEDS
Ikea: The Wonderful Everyday- Silence the critics
When I first saw this ad I thought- what in the world is THIS? But the more I watched, the more I fell in love with it. In this commercial, toys & knickknacks thrown about the house are used to tell a family that the state of their home is unacceptable upon impending, last minute dinner plans. After a very catchy reggae-inspired song about how untidy and run-down their home is, the family comes to terms with the truth and fixes up their home just in time, with the help of Ikea products. After watching the ad, I even started looking around in my own apartment for things I may need to clean and fix up myself. Well done Ikea. Well done.
Boots- Gifted Like you Get them
This commercial admittedly starts off a bit obscure- at a funeral. Eventually though, we learn that the ad is meant to highlight the frustration of consumers who are unsure what to gift their friends and loved ones with seemingly peculiar or uncommon interests.
What makes this ad brilliant is that it incorporates modern trends and lifestyles into the equation of things that make it difficult to know what gifts to purchase for others (e.g. someone who is into ASMR, or veganism). In the end, Boots emerges as the go-to brand that has everything consumers need to get the right gifts for the ones they care for, no matter how uncommon or quirky their interests are.
CHILDHOOD FANTASIES IN REAL LIFE
Fedex- Gift Box
“Should have just bought her the box”
How many times have you heard this saying in your lifetime? How many forts and imaginative creations did you build when you were a child with the help of a cardboard box? Why we’re just now seeing an ad for this very common, child-hood act is perplexing because this is one of the most common universal consumer truths I’ve ever come across.
In this ad, FedEx shows us the imaginative mind of a little girl who, after opening all of her gifts, receives the most joy from the fantasy spaceship she’s created from playing with a cardboard box. Absolutely brilliant.
Argos: The Book of Dreams
This ad speaks to the child in all of us. That little person with an abundant capacity to dream and imagine what their future might look like. It is no secret that for most of us, adulthood can sometimes lead to dreams deferred but in truth, we never really stop dreaming and hoping for the things we wanted as children. For most of us, like the father in this ad, we push all of that energy into making sure the dreams of our children come true.
In this commercial, we get to see a father daughter duo play in a fantasy-performance of their life time in a phenomenal kitchen concert. It’s a great ad to remind us to never give up on our dreams and to encourage our kids to go big on their own.
In today’s tech-driven culture, old fashioned games like charades can sometimes lose their appeal with as consumers often seek entertainment from their cherished devices.
However, as consumers are increasingly desiring ways to disconnect from their digital worlds, Cineworld provides a look into how much fun family time could be with just a little bit of imagination.
The brand cleverly combines consumers’ affinity for film and movies with the imagination of a child who is determined to act out her favorite movie scenes in the family game of charades. A great modern take on something that could easily be seen as out of date.
HOLIDAY GATHERINGS MODERNIZED & TRANSFORMED
Target- Thinking of You
As definitions of family have changed over the years and consumers’ household-makeup has shifted, this Target ad really celebrates how coming together for the holidays is often less cookie cutter than it used to be as consumers can celebrate with friends, or in big families, with games, activities & holiday traditions or in small intimate gatherings.
With so many people and so many elements represented in the ad, it’s easy to wonder if Target was simply checking off the right boxes to make sure this ad was as inclusive as possible. However, what makes this campaign special is that diversity was simply the outcome of a larger story being told which highlights the very different ways consumers celebrate the holidays.
Smirnoff- A Not so Silent Night
In this beautifully executed ad by Smirnoff, we get to see the leading lady, Ms. Laverne Cox and her army of women-only support staff chicly glide through a fabulous dinner party filled with friends and guests.
Much like the Target ad, we get to see a diverse collection of characters and personalities however, this ad is less family focused and is more about the fun and mischief that can be had when we put the kids to bed.
Selfridges- Future Fantasy
Miguel in an ad? Yes please! If Target was meant to represent the Christmas of today, this ad was meant to push those ideals into the holiday of the future. Is it a music video? A new secret club? An alcohol advert? Who knows! All I know is that there’s a collection of beautifully dressed people who I’d like to be a part of (apparently we can also shop the clothes shown in this ad- SIGN.ME.UP!)
While we see some of the same visuals in this ad as we see in the others, in this campaign we are lead by a rhyming story-teller (Noomi Rapace) who spells out the beauty of creating our own definition of family and friends to a modern hip-hop beat.
Seeing as how the images reflected in all three of these ads are quite similar, perhaps the way to stand out next year is to reimagine the holidays outside of typical, expected holiday gathering experiences.