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Retail Holiday Campaigns: The Season to Stand Out

It’s common knowledge for both brands and consumers that the holiday season is an incredibly popular time for retail. The holiday season, including Black Friday and Christmas, is a huge opportunity for brands to maximize sales and consumers to seek out limited-time discounts. Retail sales for the first two weeks of the holiday shopping season are up 6% across general merchandise categories, according to market research company NPD. With every company trying to maximize their holiday sales, it can be easy to get lost in the noise of holiday marketing campaigns. In order to stand out, companies have moved past traditional advertisements and found unique ways to capture consumer’s attention.

In the United States, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are the busiest shopping days of the year for retail stores. With stores being busier than any other time of the year, it is essential to provide an attractive brick-and-mortar experience to consumers. Urban Outfitters has mastered this, combining in-store visual merchandising and social media posts to draw in shoppers. This has included posting their in-store holiday decorations, reminding their followers how “photogenic” their decorations are. This type of content invites consumers to check out the store for themselves, providing an “Instagrammable” background that encourages shoppers to share their own photos of the store.

In 2017, Deloitte released data in which 50% of the surveyed holiday shoppers said they would prefer online shopping to brick-and-mortar, with just 36% saying the opposite. With so many consumers opting to do their holiday shopping online, digital and social media campaigns are more important than ever to attract consumers. Instead of releasing simply another Christmas advertisement, Lagavulin took a unique approach to promotional videos. In 2015, they added a twist to the familiar Yule Log, a video of a comforting fire that families can play as a backdrop to their Christmas celebrations. Their version features Nick Offerman sitting silently in front of the Yule Log for a full forty-five minutes. While Offerman simply sits in front of the fire, the video accumulated more than 3.5 million views on Youtube.

Another brand that found success with their holiday Youtube campaign is H&M. In 2016, the brand partnered with renowned director Wes Anderson and American actor Adrien Brody to create a heart-warming promotional video. The video follows a train conductor and passengers faced with severe weather-related travel delays. After the conductor calls in a request for an emergency supply of festive materials, the passengers make their way to the cafeteria car, which is decorated like a winter wonderland. While the video features H&M clothing, it is not explicitly the center of the story. This allows the narrative and its famous cast to remain the center of attention. A creative campaign such as this is far more memorable than a traditional advertising video, which simply showcases the product.

REI took a different approach to Black Friday promotions. Instead of trying to draw consumers into their stores with unbelievable discounts, they decided to keep their retail locations, headquarters, and distribution centers closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving. They wanted their employees and community to have the opportunity to do what they love most-- spend time outside. This #OptOutside campaign gained national attention, including from the United States National Park Foundation. In addition to inviting their community to spend time in nature, the campaign has sparked a charitable element as well. Outdoor Research, for example, will donate $10 to Paradox Sports for every Instagram post containing both the #OptOutside and #OutdoorResearch hashtags.

Holiday campaigns are not limited to B2C brands. B2B brands also need to find ways to take advantage of the booming holiday season. For example, WeWork, a provider of co-working and office spaces, has started a social media campaign with the tag #wwgiftguide. It began with an article in Creator, WeWork's magazine for entrepreneurs, titled "Holiday Gift Guide: Best Gifts with a Personal Touch." Four more segments were released on the same topic, each guide including products from WeWork’s member companies, allowing the campaign to showcase WeWork’s creative partners.

From short films to magazine articles, brands across all industries have found new ways to differentiate their holiday campaigns and draw in holiday shoppers. As we enter the 2019 holiday season, it will be exciting to see what creative campaign will be the next to capture consumer’s attention and their business.

Written by: Brianna Wren

Edited by: Nicola Curci

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