Holiday is coming!

Posted by Arnt Eriksen in Advertising, Marketing – December 10, 2015

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Ah, the holiday season. Full of lights, hustle and bustle…..and shopping. This time of the year represents one of the most lucrative periods in the financial year, and retailers compete to find new and lasting ways of putting their brand and products foremost in the minds of consumers. From red cups to moon landings, this year in particular has seen some unique advertising campaigns.

Holiday marketing is something which takes many forms – there are some retailers, such as Starbucks and Coca Cola, who will reuse a gimmick (the famous red cups and red trucks) with only slight alterations every single year. Other marketing campaigns, such as the ones dreamed up by retailers such as House of Fraser and Debenhams, will change every year.

Other retailers – typically ones which have a smaller array of products to sell – take a middle route between the two examples shown above, and go retro! Branston pickles has recycled an advert it first ran in 2013 to represent itself this year. Perhaps this is due to a lack of money (since it is quite expensive to film an entirely new advert every year), but it may also be due to the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’

In looking at the results of a survey run by Adweek, it is plain that the majority of people make shopping decisions based either on the adverts they see on TV or on ‘personal’ emails which are sent directly to their accounts. There are of course people who saw adverts on the retailer’s website or in magazines, but I think these results show us that the majority of people are more likely to be passively influenced in their spending habits.

Perhaps this explains the success of the red cup in particular – people don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary to see them. At most, all they need to do is find the nearest Starbucks – since the cups are ubiquitous after a certain point in time, they will always be assured of receiving one.

Holiday marketing is best accomplished by a company solidifying its brand in any way it can. We’ve spoken about the red cups – they have been rolled out so often that it is now an expected part of the holiday transformation as much as window decals and Christmas decorations. The cups have become part of the overall Starbucks brand, and the company makes sure that they stay there through various means, including using social media (as in polls to decide what pattern goes on the cup) and more traditional adverts showing the upcoming coffee flavours which will be available – all of which are shown in the red cup.

A similar result is obtained through the advert run by Branston, albeit in a different way. Leaving aside such variables as money issues (since Starbucks, Debenhams and Coca Cola are all both more well-known and better-financed than Branston Pickles), or the trend which seems to be emerging of ‘vintage’ style adverts, re-using an advert from a few years ago can be a way to solidify a brand. Since the advert was first conceived of only two years ago, seeing it again may strike a chord in people’s memories, but more importantly, the style of the advert – incidentally, one which was picked up by Debenhams marketing this year – makes it stand out among the many adverts which focus solely on products.

The customer-focused marketing of Branston focuses on a boy and his father, highlighting their personal bungled father-son moments, only to contrast them all with a successful moment at the end, which naturally involves Branston Pickles. By using content marketing in promoting their brand, Branston are sending a personal message, and explicitly linking themselves to happy times and good food. This type of content marketing is used by Debenhams, albeit in a slightly different way.

Holiday marketing will greatly benefit from remembering the importance of brands. I believe that in the midst of every retailer trying to grab the elusive Christmas shopper, companies which focus on their brand will have a better chance of success than those who don’t. Paying attention to their brand, and ensuring that it stays consistent across all forms of marketing means that a company will stand more chance of being remembered in the run up to Christmas, which means that it will benefit from the increased amount of shopping being done. No company knows this better than Coca-Cola, a company which has trademarked the image of Santa Claus since the early twentieth century. In a stunning move of co-branding, the company created the image of Santa we all know and love in 1930, after years of Santa being depicted in as many forms as the human mind could dream up. In doing this, Coca-Cola managed to inextricably link their product with Christmas, and also ensured that their product would always be in the public consciousness. Truly a masterstroke of marketing.