Jolly, Indeed: Feast Your Eyes on the Most Genius Holiday Marketing Campaigns

Business.com / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

7 successful holiday marketing campaigns from the past guaranteed to put a smile on your face—and inspire your next marketing campaign!

When it comes to holiday advertising, everything is merry and bright. The

The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday sales will total more than $630 billion, and companies do their best to snag a healthy piece of the holiday spending pie.

While many will try to capture the public's attention, certain holiday marketing campaigns stand out above the rest.

Incorporating elements of the holiday and touching the hearts of potential consumers, these genius marketing campaigns create an emotional connection with their audience.

Some even manage to become holiday traditions in their own right.

Related Article: Earlier Every Year: Get Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season Now 

The Coolest Bears

When discussing favorite holiday ads, the Coca-Cola polar bears are inevitably a popular pick. While their first commercial aired in 1993, the polar bears have become perennial favorites that have audiences young and old watching for new commercials each year.

The ads featuring the lovable antics of these polar bears perfectly display the spirit of Coca-Cola, and they have forged a strong connection between the brand and the holiday season. They have also spawned a line of collectibles that bring the Coca-Cola polar bears into people's homes and keep the company's name in front of their eyes.

Coming Home to Share a Cup

Filmed in 1986 for Folgers, "Peter Comes Home for Christmas" was always intended to be timeless. This calculated approach paid off, and the same commercial ran for nearly two decades. Employing a holiday version of Folgers' theme, the ad both fit in well with the brand's overall marketing and created a special link to the season with its relatable, heartwarming tale of a Christmas homecoming. Its sheer longevity helped to make it a Christmas classic that still lives on in the memories of many consumers.

Red, Yellow and Santa

The best holiday marketing campaigns often find an ingenious way to tie their brand with familiar Christmas tropes. Mars' M&M's brand had fun with the age-old question about Santa's existence with its clever spot, "Faint," which first aired in 1996. Endowed with a hefty dose of the sly humor that the brand is known for, the commercial delighted children of all ages with a memorable encounter between iconic characters as the brand's own Red and Yellow came face to face with Santa Claus.

Endowed with a hefty dose of the sly humor that the brand is known for, the commercial delighted children of all ages with a memorable encounter between iconic characters as the brand's own Red and Yellow came face to face with Santa Claus.

Ringing in the Holidays

Another sweet marketing success starred Hersey's chocolate kisses. Designed to emphasize the brand's whimsical innocence, "Holiday Bells" featured 11 kisses in festive red, green and silver wrappers performing as a bell-choir. Together, they played a basic version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” In a spark of marketing genius, one bell rings frantically at the song's conclusion before wiping its brow with its tag as the last note fades. This deft touch gave the familiar tune a little something extra and allowed the kisses to show a pleasant dash of personality. Airing annually since 1989, this spot is the longest running commercial for a Hershey's product, according to the

In a spark of marketing genius, one bell rings frantically at the song's conclusion before wiping its brow with its tag as the last note fades. This deft touch gave the familiar tune a little something extra and allowed the kisses to show a pleasant dash of personality. Airing annually since 1989, this spot is the longest running commercial for a Hershey's product, according to the Hershey Community Archives.

Related Article: The Ultimate Holiday How-to for Social Media Promotion

Seasonal Sweet Dreams

What do diapers have to do with Christmas? Pampers' "Peace on Earth" ad made a clever connection by giving a new parent's fondest dream a holiday twist. As "Silent Night" played in the background, babies slept soundly, presumably undisturbed by wetness or leaks thanks to the Pampers disposable diapers that they wore beneath their sleepers.

The calm, quiet nature of the commercial provided a striking contrast to the more frenzied fare that tends to populate the airwaves at holiday times and no doubt inspired hope in many a sleep-deprived parent that they might get to enjoy a night of uninterrupted slumber.

Guiding the Sleigh

Rudolph and his glowing nose offer one of the best examples of how a marketing campaign can truly create something special. The beloved story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer began with a 1939 request from Montgomery Ward executives that asked one of its admen, Robert L. May, to create a new children's story.

The idea was that this story would be made into a book and distributed as a holiday promotion for the company. As NPR explains, May's tale was a huge success with more than 2 million copies of the book distributed at stores scattered across the country. Eventually, Rudolph would soar off the springboard that Montgomery Wards provided, inspiring a song and a stop-animation film that have both become treasured classics. Today, few people even realize that Rudolph got his start as the star of a marvelous marketing campaign.

The Expansive Power of Belief

Macy's Believe campaign is a modern, multimedia approach to holiday marketing that keeps growing. Inspired by the story of eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon's famous letter, it got its start by encouraging children to mail their letters to Santa in special red mailboxes in Macy's stores. Each letter earned a donation for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

This cleverly tied Macy's to Santa and the holiday season's giving spirit, garnered support for a beloved children's charity, and drew people into the stores. As Business Wire reports, additions to the campaign include 2009's "Yes, Virginia," an award-winning animated special, a free musical for schools, a balloon in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and materials to help schools and community organizations get involved. For its 2015 campaign, Macy's introduced a short film and the Wish Writer, an interactive stylus that allows people to write letters in an app.

Related Article: Click the Halls: 5 Tips for Savvy Online Selling This Holiday Season

With so many responsibilities, activities and festive distractions, it takes something truly special to capture the public's attention during the holiday season. Finding a way to link a brand with the holiday in a way that is engaging and memorable is not easy, but these ingenious holiday marketing campaigns prove that it can certainly be done.

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