What The Best Holiday Sales Campaigns Teach Us for 2022 & Beyond

Ranjan Mukerjee

2022 has been a great year for holiday campaigns! This is the first opportunity since the pandemic that brands and retailers get to go all out to attract customers and their holiday spending.

A look-back at some of the most campaigns of 2022 revealed an interesting mix of tried and tested as well as newer, more unique formats. This is not surprising since more brands and retailers are taking an omnichannel approach to their holiday sales marketing campaigns.

However, how that approach translates to a final product can vary greatly.

Great Holiday Campaigns From Years Past

What has always set great holiday campaigns apart from the good ones is a mix of out-of-the-box creativity and radical freethinking. This combined with solid execution helped drive the campaigns’ moment marketing to the next level. Here are the 7 most creative holiday campaigns from the past that have done things a bit differently:

1. The TV Commercial – John Lewis (2011)

John Lewis delivering a crackerjack albeit emotion-filled commercial for the holidays is hardly a surprise anymore.

And while the 2022 advert has received deserved plaudits, we doff our caps to The Long Wait – the OG 2011 commercial that not only helped John Lewis make their mark but also changed audience’s expectations from Christmas ads.

 

2. The Hashtag – Hotel Tonight (2016)

Lucky are those who have never experienced the horrors of family visiting for the holidays. For the rest of us, Hotel Tonight wrapped up our feelings perfectly with their #visitdontstay campaign.

Let’s just say that people were more than eager to vent their feelings while piggybacking on the hashtag.

tweet from hotel tonight's visit don't stay campaign

 

3. The Interactive, User-Generated Content – WestJet (2013)

What do you get when you put up two virtual Santas in airports, interacting in real-time with customers, and making their wishes come true?

Quality holiday content for all and an absolute PR win for WestJet!

 

4. The YouTube Series – Calvin Klein (2019)

Rather than producing a one-off video, Calvin Klein opted to feature their biggest influencers in a video series.

Each “In bed with…” YouTube video focused on one celebrity influencer – Kendall Jenner, Emma Chamberlain, Evan Mock, and more – talking as their most-down-to-earth selves in the run-up to the Calvin Klein Holiday Party.

 

5. The Omnichannel Journey – Target (2015)

With 2015’s The Holiday Odyssey, Target embarked on an ambitious omnichannel..well…odyssey like nothing we had seen before. Spanning everything from TV to digital to experiential, this holiday campaign – backed by Neil Patrick Harris’ vocals – takes customers on an adventure-filled quest.

The fact that the journey features cameos by very much in-demand toys just happens to be a nice bonus.

 

6. The Celebrity Endorsement – Lagavulin (2015)

Any brand can go out there and sign up a celebrity to promote their products. However, it is very rare that the brand and the celebrity are the perfect match for each other.

Lagavulin Whisky had no problems finding the right ambassador, courtesy Parks and Recreation and the sitcom setting up Ron Swanson, aka Nick Offerman’s relationship with the brand.

In 2015, the brand took the traditional yule log video and turned it on its head with a 40-minute video filled with utter calm and dripping class.

 

7. The AR Experience – Office Depot (2006/17)

What started as a one-off campaign in 2006 for Office Depot (OfficeMax) has snowballed into a yearly holiday-time affair. Elf Yourself allows users to create elf versions of themselves for sharing, and so far over a billion elves have been made!

In 2017, Elf Yourself introduced an augmented reality (AR) component to it, letting users overlay virtual dancing elves onto any background in the real world. Buddy would be proud!

 

Holiday Campaign Trends We Saw in 2022

2022 has seen brands adopt livestream shopping and video commerce on a scale like never before. However, it is the holiday season campaigns where these innovations have truly excelled at capturing and serving digital audiences.

Brands and retailers leveraged the 2022 holiday sales season to innovate how content is served by adopting highly immersive, mobile-first content formats. “Experiential” and “human connection” were the two most prominent elements on display to engage consumers with.

1. Santa’s Shoppable Video Adventures

Video has always been an excellent medium for engaging audiences. In recent years, marketers have begun leveraging shoppable videos to turn these engagements into conversions.

The 2022 holidays sales season sees a big rise in shoppable videos being deployed across websites, turning them into every webpage into a 24/7, highly-engaging digital storefront.

 

2. Jingle All the Way to the Livestreams

While holiday campaigns can last well into the new year, it’s the Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend that rakes in the biggest chunk of the holiday sales dollars.

Consumers having fleeting attention spans when on the hunt for sales and bargains. Livestream shopping events not only ensure a captive audience but work wonders for converting intent into sales – something that brands have put to good use during the Thanksgiving weekend this year.

beachwaver cyber monday livestream

 

3. Raising a Cup of Eggnog to Influencer Marketing

While Lagavulin might have hit the celebrity endorsement jackpot with Nick Offerman, other brands have not been so lucky.

In fact, many brands are finding greater success by tapping into influencer marketing. This is not surprising since influencer marketing, in general, has a greater sense of authenticity that consumers – especially GenZ – connect with.

Influencers are also much more available and involved in creating video content that is engaging, authentic, and stays true to the brand.

 

Observations & Lessons

1. Brands will continue to be more omnichannel

The good ol’ TV commercial might be great for stirring feelings and increasing brand awareness, but it does little-to-nothing for engagement and conversions.

In a competitive holiday sales market, brands and retailers need to engage and excite consumers at every available touchpoint. We can expect to see more omnichannel holiday campaigns going forward – brands that don’t risk falling behind the competition.

2. Livestream shopping events take holiday sales to the next level

Consumers are growing increasingly wary and weary of the Thanksgiving weekend holiday sales events. As a result, the holiday shopping season is starting sooner and ending later with every passing year.

Livestream shopping events offer brands and retailers the opportunity to effectively tap into this extended holiday shopping season. We can expect to see brands turning to multiple livestreams to drive holiday sales and build a community.

3. Brands are increasingly willing to embrace digital innovations

There was a time when brands would be suspicious about adopting new marketing and sales technology or innovations. But the e-Commerce boom – especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns – has changed many minds.

Marketers know that in the digital age, falling behind in a competitive landscape can be almost impossible to recover from. As a result, brands are getting bolder about embracing new innovations, especially during the holiday sales season when the impact can be sizable.

The Wrap Up

The best, most effective holiday sales campaigns have always been the ones that have done things differently. However, it’s not long before what was once a standout exception becomes the industry norm in the blink of an eye.

From omnichannel approaches, to interactive experiences, to leveraging video commerce, expect to see these trends become far more commonplace not only over the coming holiday seasons but as perennial marketing strategies.

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