2014 Holiday Ads: From Shopping Ease to Philanthropy

A look at updated creative data for department store and discount department store holiday-themed advertising through Week 45 (ending November 16) reveals a competitive landscape that differs from advertising through Week 44 (ending November 9).

In Week 44, Target and Walmart were collectively responsible for 84% of YTD department store winter holiday-themed ad expenditure. One week later (Week 45), new retail players entered the mix. Target outpaced Walmart, winning the week with a 35% share of department store holiday-themed ad dollars, followed by Walmart (28% share), Kohls (10%), JC Penney (7%), Macys (6%), and Kmart (5%) for a combined 91% of all Winter Holiday Retailer spending to-date.

Department Store Holiday Share of Voice

Creative themes in Week 45 were fairly consistent with those through Week 44. Walmart continued to deliver the overarching brand theme of "you can get anything at Walmart", with messaging focused on shopping that is "easier than ever", as compared to 2013 creative that was focused primarily on price matching.

Target made branding a priority this year, with a special brand partnership with Toms Shoes that heavily pushed a special "Giving Back on November 16th" promotion that donates a blanket, meal or shoes to those in need for every Target/Toms gift purchase.

Macy's adopted a creative approach this year that bore similarities to both Walmart and Target, urging shoppers to visit Macy's "for everything on your gift list". The retailer also promoted its Make-A-Wish Foundation partnership, donating $1 to Make-A-Wish for every letter to Santa received from believers of all ages.

In an era where online retailers offer added convenience and Black Friday shopping is less appealing, retailers are looking for ways to lure in-store shoppers. Promoting a brand as a one-stop-shop for everything people need for the holidays, or associating the brand with philanthropic causes during the season of giving are some competitive tactics that top department store retailers have employed this year to date.

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