For the third consecutive year, US Data Corporation has decided to honor the best of the best when it comes to holiday marketing. This year’s selections are an eclectic sort. We’ve got everything from touching family home videos to reinterpreted fairy tale mashups to one of the most bizarrely naughty “Jingle Bells” interpretations you’ll ever see. So let’s not keep you waiting. These are our Top 15 Holiday Marketing Campaigns of 2013.
1. Tesco Home Videos
Retailer Tesco taps into family memories in a simple and authentic manner that instantly conjures up some of the warmest and happiest moments from Christmases past. It’s very easy to connect with this family as they undergo many changes over the course of a lifetime, and the video thankfully spares us the melancholy of later life. Regardless of the many changes the family experiences, there is always a sense of togetherness, and that is a positive marketing message to send, especially during the holidays.
2. Wells Fargo: The Stagecoach and the Snowmen
Wells Fargo takes a journey back in time to the days of the Old West and a stagecoach that runs into trouble one snowy evening. Luckily, the rider and horses meet just the right kind of help from a generous team of snowmen. Wells Fargo’s 2013 holiday commercial strikes the perfect tone of holiday spirit while paying homage to the company’s long-running history. It’s hard to watch this one and not end up with a smile on your face.
3. KFC United
Kentucky Fried Chicken unfortunately paints a pretty accurate picture of today’s holiday shopper. Don’t believe that? Just join the holiday shoppers during Black Friday, and you’ll see what this commercial is saying. The song is undeniably catchy and manages to do something that so many commercials fail at — be funny.
4. Cadbury’s Unwrap Joy
As a child, one of the most exciting parts of the holiday is tearing into Christmas presents. Gifts are often secondary to the experience of trashing the living room floor with brightly colored wrapping paper. (Unless we’re talking about socks. No amount of wrapping paper makes those fun.) Cadbury’s 2013 holiday commercial perfectly captures the thrill of Christmas morning on a grander scale. Entitled “Unwrap Joy,” this marketing campaign features kids doing what kids do best on Christmas Day, set against the backdrop of the Christmas classic, “Marshmallow World.”
5. Bailey’s Nutcracker Suite
Bailey’s goes with a traditional story for the Christmas season, but the execution is far from what you may be used to seeing. Here we see the Nutcracker Suite play out with a harder edge and plenty of kicks. We’ll put it this way: if you like karate movies then this is a Nutcracker you can get behind. The choreography by Benjamin Millepede is particularly outstanding.
6. John Lewis: Bear and Hare
Each year, John Lewis comes up with some of the most heartwarming, well-thought-out Christmas message movies each year. In 10 minutes or less, they tell stirring stories of love and friendship that epitomize the best parts of the season. The company is basically the Frank Capra of holiday marketing campaigns. This year they turn in another soon-to-be seminal classic with “Bear and Hare,” the moving tale of one animal who has never seen Christmas (but always wanted to), and the unlikely friendship that makes it all possible.
7. Coca-Cola’s Letter from Santa Claus
Venture out into the black heart of Black Friday, and you will instantly wonder if this whole Christmas thing has lost its way; people yelling at each other over dolls, police arresting feuding moms and dads, and customers who have no concern for the safety of their neighbor. The message that Coca-Cola presents here in their letter from Santa Claus is much-needed. Santa wants us all to be nicer to one another and to do something — anything — for our fellow man. It’s a sound message for a more self-involved world, and plays well into the common Christmas theme that the soft drink company does so well.
8. Sports Authority: The Gift of Sport
Sports Authority reminds us that sports are so much more important than just who wins and loses. They’re about competition, health, wellness, passion, and self-esteem. The marketing part of this message plays well into what Sports Authority does and celebrates the gifts that sports continue to give us year-in, and year-out.
9. Tiffany & Co. Wrapped in Blue
Tiffany & Co. strikes a homey quality with their 2013 creation that is short on words but long on Christmas spirit. The video is a snapshot of life for many young families with children, and what a joyous time it is! We’re not clear on who the singer is, but with the little ones looking up the chimney, their brand new pug puppy, and a soothing interpretation of “The Christmas Waltz,” this marketing piece is just about perfect.
10. PetSmart Sleeping Puppy Outtakes
The PetSmart “Puppy Outtakes” is about the most adorable thing you’ll see this Christmas holiday. While the company isn’t the only one on our list that relies on furry animals to capture hearts, this time the animal is tied directly into the marketing message. In the 30-second spot, a set of hands tries to arrange a puppy in the perfect position for a holiday shoot. After a few takes, the cuddly final piece is secure.
11. Target: #MyKindOfHoliday
Target always puts a lot into their holiday marketing campaigns. In fact, this isn’t the first time they’ve ended up on our list. This year, they’ve got a catchy hashtag campaign to go along with their series of videos. Here, we’ve picked our favorite. Fans of ABC’s The Middle will probably recognize the familiar face at the end.
12. Vistaprint ‘Wanted You To Know’
Boston-based musician David Law is the voice behind this catchy little tune. Vistaprint customers pile on extra holiday cheer as needed with background vocals, introducing the world to a fun, festive, and diverse client base in the process. It’s a great way of emphasizing the importance of family while also giving a nod to the custom print products for which Vistaprint is known.
13. Zales ‘Let Love Shine’
There’s almost a can’t-miss template for shooting a strong jewelry store piece, and Zales follows it to the letter with Let Love Shine. Take two people in love, separated by a distance. Give the man a creative way to surprise the woman and say, “I love you.” Add dreamy vocals — this time, it’s “Ends of the Earth” by Lord Huron — and suddenly, it’s impossible to say no. The choice of music really works here as does the contrast of colorful balloons against a gray winter day.
14. Kmart: Show Your Joe
We’ll acknowledge that this selection from Kmart is a little risqué, but it’s also absolutely hilarious, and the 16.1 million views (and counting) on YouTube indicate that they’ve definitely struck a cord. The setup: it’s just a basic Christmas carol played by a group of good-looking guys with a not-so-obvious instrument of choice. “Show Your Joe” is harmless, edgy fun, though you may not want your eight-year-old to go near it.
15. Marks and Spencer #MagicAndSparkle
Alice in Wonderland. The Wizard of Oz. How many fairy tales can you pick out in this beautifully shot and edited mashup from Marks & Spencer? As the centerpiece of the company’s #MagicAndSparkle campaign, we think this is a pretty solid showpiece for advertising product. If Tim Burton were to shoot a sleepwear commercial, we’re pretty sure this is similar to what he would produce.
Now that you’ve seen our Top 15 holiday marketing campaigns of 2013, are you ready for the holidays? Which of these entries do you think are the best, and which ones should we have included on the list? Share your thoughts in our comments section and make sure to review our holiday campaign video pieces from 2012 and 2011. From all of us here at US Data Corporation, happy holidays from our family to yours.