Video Trends

Unique Christmas Ad Films and the Value of a Christmas Campaign

14 December 2022 |
Christmas Ad Films

Unique Christmas Ad Films and the Value of a Christmas Campaign

All good marketers know that successful advertising films are story-driven and present a brand’s message in emotionally meaningful ways. Unlike examples that shamelessly push products, think about the success of the iconic Folgers tearjerker “Peter Comes Home,” released in 1985, or the unforgettable “Faint” campaign by M&Ms from 1996.

But as society and the increasingly globalized world change rapidly, people and consumers are consistently evolving and progressing, necessitating the innovative creation of different types of stories. The strategies that once worked to grab attention, instill brand loyalty, capture the hearts of viewers, or increase company performance/sales might not cut it anymore. 

As B2C marketers, we should continuously work to understand what truly resonates with consumers in the current moment. The unique reality we live in today provides new challenges and new opportunities within the world of holiday marketing. We should capitalize on those potentials to create well-suited and powerful content.

Before diving into the current trends, let’s discuss the significance of festive campaigns.

The importance of creating a unique Christmas ad campaign

Christmas presents a unique opportunity for B2C marketing companies wanting to engage with consumers deeply, productively, and effectively. And while companies spend 2.53 billion a year on holiday retail ads, they spend a whopping 45.6 billion a year on digital retail ads. Christmas commercials and ad films fall in this massively lucrative category and represent a chance to greatly influence sales/revenue, brand loyalty, and short-term/long-term engagement.

Why is this? 

It’s because the holiday season is a special and nostalgic time of year filled with family, change, overwhelming emotions, and the acts of giving and receiving. These factors create the perfect storm – constituting the consumer base that’s highly susceptible to pathos-based appeals, open to changing/reframing its ideas, and more interested and engaged with advertisements in general. Advertisements that are often new, seasonal, and running only for a fixed period.

Let’s review what B2C consumers are looking for, then discuss specific themes that can help you capture their hearts, minds, and purchasing power.

Modern-day B2C consumers are sophisticated

The modern ad-media consumer is quite savvy and doesn’t respond well to being infantilized or obviously manipulated. Most people now avoid traditional advertisements, as ad viewers continue to evolve into more sophisticated, intelligent, and nuanced entities, so marketers must also progress towards non-traditional and unique ad approaches

Creative, unique, and innovative commercials/digital ads can feel risky, but this type of media resonates with viewers and can pay off big time. 

People also want different themes addressed in new ways because the world has changed, especially in the past few years; the straightforward pushing of products is increasingly passe/ineffective, and priorities have shifted even more from hyper-consumerism to a desire for deep human connection.

Which themes do people respond well to in the digital age, and which trends should we prioritize and incorporate into our Christmas campaigns? 

Recent trends in Christmas video marketing

The nature of the present nexus of marketing implores B2C marketers to make appeals to deeply rooted consumer values, utilize greater levels of humor to address the unique aspects of our current/post-pandemic realities, re-interpret/subvert traditional and overdone norms within the world of Christmas advertising, and even create a world of immersive nostalgia. We also see consumers responding well to lesser-utilized emotions—not just feelings like sadness, joy, and love but also ones like anxiety, anger, goofiness, shame, and awkwardness.

Covid-19 has changed the nature of the advertising industry greatly, leading to the pointed success of creative campaign films that highlight specific themes; the hyper-connected yet paradoxically isolating digital, global, and post-pandemic world of today is truly marked by a craving for human connection within conditions of physical and emotional isolation and a desire for escapist narratives that challenge our everyday lived-experience while allowing viewers to forget the overwhelming problems that face us.

Modern-day consumers value genuine, authentic, and vulnerable representations of humanity, especially as our world becomes increasingly globalized, technologically advanced, and hyper-capitalistic. Viewers also desire a focus on sustainability in ad films: 77% of Americans are concerned with the impacts of the products they purchase, and 75% are willing to pay more for a product that’s environmentally sustainable.

We can look to the experts for examples for guidance on what types of stories work and to see some of these trends in action. Here’s a list of five highly-successful, well-known advertisements from the past decade that remain powerfully appealing to modern digital media consumers:

The five most memorable Christmas TVCs and digital films in the past ten years

1. “Choose a Christmas Without Palm Oil”– Iceland Foods, (2018)

As mentioned, appealing to the viewers’ humanity is an important part of Christmas advertising. This ad represents a take that leaves out traditional holiday symbols, avoiding the cookie-cutter approach consumers are bored of while feeling very real and touching on a deeply important value: care for the protection of the environment and the animals which populate it. This expertly animated and emotionally-driven ad was banned but still maintained tons of influence and remains a memorable sustainably-focused example of modern-day holiday marketing.

2. “ALDI Christmas Advert 2021- A Christmas Carrot”– ALDI, (2016)

This ALDI ad operates on humor and anthropomorphism framed through a well-known story and resonates with the whole family. The “A Christmas Carrot” story is an example of a company subverting traditional Christmas themes to form a unique ad film while appealing to familiar and immersive nostalgia. It was wildly popular, winning the title of most effective Christmas advertisement of the year, and creatively shaped played-out ideas in new ways while building an escapist world craved by many in the overwhelming modern reality.

3. “Silence the Critics”– IKEA, (2021)

IKEA’s first-ever Christmas ad film doesn’t include the imagery we usually associate with Christmas, instead focusing on authenticity and the lived experience of the holiday season. It appeals to the lesser-recognized emotions of shame and vulnerability, a feeling that being around our families can produce, and touches on the worry associated with hosting judgmental loved ones through self-deprecating humor. It’s non-traditional, distinct, and avoids traditional industry tropes while utilizing a type of emotion not commonly found in ads.

4. “Man on the Moon”– John Lewis, (2015)

John Lewis is known for the industry-dominating digital ad films the company releases each Christmas season. “Man on the Moon” remains the most authentic and notable example, reaching unprecedented levels of engagement and continuing to pervade the heads and hearts of many (even years later). This widely-known video advertisement utilizes the human desire for connection despite isolating circumstances/physical distance, which has powerful effects that hit even closer to home in our post-pandemic reality.

5. “Share your Gifts”– Apple, (2018)

This digital film is a beautifully animated, heartwarming, and pathos-based story focused on genuine-feeling characters and the “gifts” we all have inside ourselves. This genius approach challenges long-standing ideas of “giving” and material gifts, pushing viewers to see the concept in a new way and highlighting the theme of innovation associated with the Apple brand. Its artistic approach and music from pop sensation Billie Eilish make it fun to watch, while the message to love our creative selves and share our unique strengths with the world unequivocally resonates.

Looking to add some Christmas cheer to your brand campaign? Do it with a video. Get in touch with us to get videos that win people over. Here’s hoping you have yourself a very merry Christmas.