Top 3 Retail Holiday Creative Insights

Advertisers must attract the attention of shoppers early to get them thinking about their holiday shopping—even if it’s too early for them to be in the holiday state of mind. Be it scenes of families around the table to hectic depictions of the shopping process, it is crucial for advertisers to connect with and relate to their shoppers. Here are a few of the trends we saw in last year’s top ads.

Tech the Halls

A look at the top creative from last year reflects the retail focus on consumer electronics, tablets and phones. The majority of the top 2013 ads by Walmart, Target, and Best Buy featured a tech gadget or accessory. Be it two sisters using a tablet to spy on Santa, a couple kissing under virtual mistletoe (via tablet), or consumers shopping for devices—tablets, headphones, and phone cases managed to make their way into most ads.

Multicultural Advertising

The social and cultural diversity of America is clearly displayed in the variety of ad messages that retailers create and air during the holiday season. This is no accident: families with children are prime targets for gift-giving campaigns, and according to the 2013 Census, black (44%), Asian (49%), and Hispanic U.S. households (58%) are much more likely than white households (39%) to include children under the age of 18. The number of Hispanic families in the US is also rising quickly. Since the holidays are an important time for gift giving to children, retail advertisers made it a point to feature diversification among the subjects of their ads to target these families. Top ads by JCPenney, Target, Best Buy, and Old Navy featured Hispanic, Asian, African American, and bi-racial families; a homogenous Caucasian family was more difficult to spot!

Holiday Planning as a “Mission”

While many holiday ads depict families opening gifts around the tree, putting out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, or celebrating the holiday with the items purchased by loved ones, most 2013 holiday ads focused on the planning and preparation phase of the holiday, emphasizing the multichannel approach to completing a purchase. Target aired ads before Christmas and Thanksgiving which showed a female shopper getting holiday decorating and entertaining ideas from Pinterest, and then making the purchase in store—echoing the realities of e-commerce and reverse showrooming in the path to purchase. Best Buy ran an ad campaign that featured celebrities from Maya Rudolph to LL Cool J seated around the fire, reciting Christmas tales depicting the triumphs of Christmas shoppers winning at the holiday gift search in a quick and efficient manner. HomeGoods, TJMaxx and Marshalls ran an ad with the music and visuals of a secret agent film, featuring “The Gifter”, a woman on a Christmas mission. Efficiently completing purchases for her holiday entertaining and gifts, she “accomplished” the mission of Christmas with ease and grace.

These are a few of the tactics we saw from retailers from last year to rise above the holiday clutter. This year we’ve already seen holiday ads hit the market, and we’ll be closely following what new strategies retailers apply in 2014 to win a piece of the holiday pie.


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