Last year we looked at the top holiday marketing campaigns of 2011 and found some true classics. From Crazy Target Lady to a Buster-approved message from Petco, the advertising ideas were certainly not in short supply. This year we have some familiar companies with some new approaches and a few new faces that will tickle your funny bones and touch your heart.
That’s right, it’s time for the Top 15 Holiday Marketing Campaigns of 2012. Check them out, and tell us what you think!
1. Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013: ‘Control Your Heart Rate!’
The new ad from Cabela’s is less Christmas-themed than last year’s spot for 2012 Big Game Hunter, but it does place the company’s most likely Christmas gift of the season front and center. The “Control Your Heart Rate” promotion emphasizes the new sawed-off shotgun controller that links with the Dangerous Hunts 2013 game to grow more difficult as your heart rate increases. In the commercial, we get a rather humorous look at what can happen when the controller reveals a little more than you want it to.
2. Hallmark: ‘Tell Me…’
No laughs here, but great advertising doesn’t always have to be funny. The “Tell Me” campaign from Hallmark explores the variety of complicated and meaningful relationships that we all have in our lives, and through a simple, easy-to-remember holiday marketing slogan brings the core business model of the greeting card company to the forefront. Not a tearjerker, but a simple reminder of what the holidays should mean to everyone, no matter what their backgrounds or beliefs.
3. Kohl’s: ‘Dream a Little Dream’
The “Dream a Little Dream” promotion from Kohl’s manages to capture the festive and fun spirit of the holidays without resorting to cheap gags or melodrama. It’s colorful and does a great job of showcasing many different Kohl’s products from many different departments all in a relatively short amount of time. The company used studio musicians for this version, though, so unfortunately no version of the song is available. However, it’s been covered close to 100 times, so it shouldn’t be too difficult getting a serviceable rendition for the iPod.
4. John Lewis: ‘The Journey’
Probably our favorite this year is “The Journey” campaign from John Lewis. The 90-second short film is a beautiful love story wrapped around the holiday season. It stars a snowman and snow-woman and is set to the tune of “Power of Love,” a Frankie-Goes-to-Hollywood song covered here by Gabrielle Aplin. The story is, well, just watch it. We’re getting too choked up thinking about it.
5. Coca-Cola: ‘Shake Up the Happiness’
Last year it was Natasha Bedingfield singing basically the same song, but Coca-Cola has made a few tweaks this year bringing in Train to perform the “Shake Up the Happiness” theme song. Santa Claus is once again looking in to his snow-globe and “shaking up” Christmas, causing everyone to break out of their workaday lives and realize that, as the song says, “It’s Christmas time!” It’s really not fair how Coca-Cola operates. Their version of Santa is the quintessential creation, so they could probably just shoot a Christmas commercial of him brushing his teeth and we’d have to dig it.
6. Old Navy: ‘The Jordan Knight Before Christmas’
We were never just the biggest New Kids on the Block fans, but Old Navy has made an endearing use of the NKOTB crooner Jordan Knight as well as Boyz II Men in a nostalgic look back on the ’90s, all narrated by Mr. Johnny Mathis himself. The usual color and energy that Old Navy brings to its holiday marketing ads is in full force as many of the clothing and accessories store’s key products of the season are on full display.
7. Asda: ‘Behind Every Great Christmas, There’s Mum’
American companies too often get all the credit for innovation in advertising, but there are plenty of great campaigns abroad and one of the better ones this holiday season is the Asda “Behind Every Great Christmas, There’s Mum” spot. In 60 seconds, the company manages to squeeze in every last Christmas detail that just wouldn’t be possible without good old mom there to keep everything on track. She’s wife, mother, cook, maid, worker, you name it. Through a series of quick scenes we get in to the frantic pace of the holidays before realizing at the end what it’s all about.
8. Macy’s: ‘Another Miracle on 34th Street’
The department store Macy’s one-upped itself from last year’s “We All Scream for Bieber” ad. This year Macy’s is playing off its role in the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street” by splicing-expertly, might I add-the original Santa from that film into a new ad that features all of the company’s spokespersons. Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Donald Trump-they’re all here in glorious full color. Santa? Not so much, but that’s what makes this holiday marketing campaign really pop.
9. Target: ‘Dream Big, Save Bigger’
Target’s “Dream Big, Save Bigger” is the superior of the two ad campaigns that the large-scale retailer has going this holiday season. The other-“It’s On”-is just a tad too annoying and lacks the humor that “Crazy Target Lady” brought to the table a few years ago. No biggie. The red dot has a winner in this Christmas commercial, which does a fine job of juxtaposing our Christmas ideals with our savings reality.
10. IKEA: ‘Like New Year’s for Your Home’
The IKEA sales catalog recaptures the excitement that we used to feel as kids whenever the J.C. Penney Christmas Catalog would be released. The campaign is represented with a spot that features everyday objects taking flight and exploding into pretty fireworks as each new customer rushes to see what’s waiting inside the new book. A narrator says, “It’s like New Year’s for your home,” which pretty much sums up the store itself and targets the company’s audience in one fell swoop.
11. Petco: ‘Forgot Something’
Strap antlers on a dog’s head, and you’ve won our hearts. The “Forgot Something” campaign that is currently making the rounds from Petco features an excited woman speaking to her antler-sporting dog as if he’s a child. She’s excited about all the Christmas purchases she made at the store, and she doesn’t want her little Sparky peeking. About halfway home, she realizes that she forgot something. The dog looks like he could care less. What she forgot, however-that’s another story.
12. Apple + Best Buy: ‘Finding Santa’
The Apple company is featured prominently in this festive and inventive spot from Best Buy. A little boy desperately needs to find Old St. Nick for a last-minute gift wish, and he’s putting Apple products to the test to do it. He sends an email on the company’s MacBook Pro, but gets an Out-of-Office Reply-“Gone until the 26th”-and then takes to the iPad to see if he can’t get the Jolly Elf on Face Time. Happy endings for all, and to all a good night!
13. L.L. Bean: ‘Waiting Up’
How many of you out there can remember trying the old wait-up-for-Santa thing? Well, L.L. Bean remembers, and they’ve packaged that childhood pastime into a quaintly charming ad that features a quartet of kiddos, who put on the headlights and take to the couch in the hope of catching Claus in the act. The only thing they’ve got working against them: Santa can keep pretty late hours, especially when he knows when you’ve been sleeping.
14. Canadian Tire: ‘Sam’
Is it us or are a lot of companies taking some page out of the Santa book this holiday season? Well, Canadian Tire has scored another winner with its “Sam” ad that features a boy not unlike any boy or girl who ever believed. We know the Fat Man is busy and that he’s got a lot of work to do on Christmas Eve. We worry that he won’t be able to find our house. That he’ll overlook us in the vast sea of humanity. Well, one father has a special plan to make sure that doesn’t happen. Everything unfolds to the moving “Stars and Satellites” by Dan Griffin.
15. Lowe’s: ‘Lights Across America’
Hardware company Lowe’s has taken one of the 20th Century’s finest Christmas traditions and built a rather cool ad around it-stringing up those lights. But the stars of the “Lights Across America” campaign have bigger ideas in mind than simply lighting up a house. To the tune of “Shine for Me” by Camera Can’t Lie, Lowe’s customers light up the entire country. Cool visuals unfold amid a heartwarmingly romantic dramatization.