‘Tis the season for holiday branding. Children are counting the days till they get to tear open their presents, parents and grown-ups are rushing to buy last-minute gifts, and retailers, boutiques, and shopping malls everywhere are showing off their high-budgeted Christmas 2018 decor.
What are your holiday branding activities? Many consumer brands hold Christmas sales online and offline, while others advertise Christmas-related brand stories. What did Brand360 do? We decorated our social media page (and office!) to embrace the Yuletide vibe, complete with falling snow, holly, and Santa’s hat. We sent festive cakes and goodies to clients and partners, all locally-made to keep it real. We even had a Christmas karaoke-day, where we sang the house down and had sore throats the next day.
In this season of holiday cheer, we take a look at some brands that have the best examples of capturing the Christmas spirit using their brand story and identity. Let’s jump right into it:
John Lewis has been consistent in showing brilliant ads that make viewers shed a tear or two. This year, their Christmas advertisement featured pop icon Sir Elton John, using the fittingly clever hashtag #EltonJohnLewis. The whole advert is a tribute to the singer’s late mother who passed away in 2017 just before Christmas. Other favourite ads from John Lewis are those from 2013 (The Bear & The Hare), and 2015 (Man On the Moon).
Sainsbury’s, another large retailer, released an adorable but high-budgeted Christmas 2018 advert featuring 59 young children in various Christmas-theme costumes (including one boy dressed a power plug). However, many viewers agree that Sainsbury’s best Christmas advertisement was from 2014, in commemoration of World War I 100th year anniversary.
It’s also worth to mention ads from other retail brands, such as Iceland (not the Nordic country). Iceland UK released a Christmas ad that took a jab at the palm oil industry. It caused controversy and was banned in the UK for being too political. However, the message wasn’t entirely lost to their audience, who can still view it on the internet.
Iceland’s cute little orangutan character made viewers aware of the deforestation and habitat destruction caused by palm oil plantations. Admittedly, it is a bit off topic for a Christmas advertisement, but it still has an emotional pull and a show of dedication towards sustainable consumerism.
This Christmas 2018, Starbucks went for the minimalist red cup similar to the one in 2015. They also have other options with more Christmasy patterns that customers can buy and keep as reusable cups, though we all know Starbuck fans will buy to keep as novelties.
Special holiday packaging is a common way for brands to show customers that they are celebrating the holiday together. Christmas-themed packaging can encourage sales as Christmas shoppers see the convenience of not needing to wrap the purchase anymore, since they are already packaged in holly jolly Christmas spirit.
Coca-Cola is the paragon of Christmas branding. Thanks to this ubiquitous brand, we know of jolly ol’ Santa Claus as a large man in a red suit, black boots and a full face white beard. Before Coke started their Christmas campaign in the 1930s, Santa Claus or Father Christmas was personified in many ways, from a kindly old man to a stern wizard. But Coca-Cola’s version of the holiday icon stood out the best.
This happened due to years of advertising and branding the fizzy beverage as a Christmas drink favoured by Santa Claus and everybody else. And Coke consistently brands itself this way for several decades, especially in Western countries. Almost everyone in the Western hemisphere (and to an extent Eastern countries) recognise the large red trailer with Coca-Cola’s logo emblazoned brightly on the sides. When they see this truck, they know Santa Claus is coming to town. In 2018, this campaign still persists as commercials and road shows.
What is interesting from the brand this year is their Christmas 2018 collection. True to the brand’s humorous personality, Apom called it their Jholly Christmas Collection, in reference to the 1MDB scandal that many Malaysians love to hate.
And their decision was positively received by customers, who laughed and marvelled at the brand’s creativity at poking fun of the infamous fugitive. Many love their ‘Spending Like I Stole It’ tote bags.
Major holidays like Christmas see a lot of brands not only pushing sales promotions, but also connecting with their target audience on shared Christmas values. More often, Christmas is celebrated as a secular, cultural holiday around the world than a religious one. This means that customers regardless of beliefs can be targeted for your Christmas branding, such as what these brands did. But, it all boils down to your Christmas campaign’s objective and strategy.
Brand storytelling works effectively during these times. Consumers are generally attracted to advertisements and messages that have an emotional appeal, whether it’s funny, nostalgic or sad. It’s why many brands take this chance to showcase their take on Christmas, with themes usually revolving around family values, love and forgiveness, and the joy of giving.
Christmas 2018 is no exception as the trends are still observed, though brands are getting more creative in spreading their messages out. Competition is hard, but staying true to your brand across seasons can prevail.