‘Tis The Season: 3 Awesome Holiday Marketing Campaigns To Inspire You

December 5, 2013 Emily Bauer

‘Tis the season for creative holiday marketing campaigns! Make the most of the approaching holiday season by seizing the opportunity to promote your company through creative, engaging and festive marketing initiatives. Because it can be tricky to compete for consumers’ attention during this period of heavy spending and frenzied gift buying, marketers have to work extra hard to ensure their brand stands out amongst the crowd.

Luckily, inspiration is all around you. Check out these awesome marketing campaigns from seasons past and present to gain inspiration for your own holiday marketing strategies.

Coca Cola – Coke Zero Sweater Generator

One of the biggest global brands in the world, Coca Cola, is known for consistently creating festive and imaginative holiday campaigns. Coke’s holiday marketing is successful in part because its themes are infectious and creative, but also because its campaigns are highly visible. Coca Cola’s marketers make the effort to broadcast an online presence across a variety social media channels in order to get the most value from its holiday campaigns by ensuring they’re seen by as many eyes as possible.

In 2012, Coke’s marketing focused on the importance of spending time with loved ones during the holidays, coordinating a multi-platform campaign across their website, YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook accounts. The company decorated all of their social media channels with Christmas themes to create a unified initiative.

This season, Coke is taking engagement to a whole new level with its Coke Zero Sweater Generator, encouraging fans to custom design unique and quirky holiday sweaters. What seems at first glance like a silly little gag is actually a powerful engagement engine for Coke Zero and the Coca Cola brand. The company is hosting a contest based on user votes and plans to have the top 100 sweater selections knit and mailed out to the users responsible for the designs. Unfortunately, the holiday sweater campaign is only available in the U.S. this year, but maybe its popularity will encourage Coke to open it up to international submissions in future years.

Rue La La – The Rue Reveal & Goof Proof Gifting

Often considered the most joyous time of year, the holidays bring up memories of childhood and evoke feelings of wonder and generosity. Last December, Rue La La capitalized on the playful aspect of the holiday season by offering customers a gamified promotional experience called ‘The Rue Reveal’. The online retailer hosted something of a virtual Advent calendar, but instead of giving out chocolate or candy each day, Rue La La holiday offered customers a new gift via Facebook. The virtual gifts included discounts and the top prize was a $500 shopping spree for items from their store, which sells luxury items at fair prices. The Advent calendar was a creative campaign that enticed customers to return to their Facebook page each day of the month for consistent engagement.

This year, Rue La La launched a new program called “Goof Proof Gifting” intended to simplify the holiday shopping process. The company anticipates and responds to common customer concerns related to holiday gifting with a variety of offerings designed to make online shopping a less stressful experience. The program promises that gifts bought in November or December can be easily returned at no cost, offers extended returns through mid January and promises delivery by Christmas on any item purchased up until December 23rd.

Rue La La also sells digital gift cards, which are “available through the holidays and beyond,” effectively reminding customers of their year-round services while reinforcing the importance of giving during the holidays.

Office Max – Elf Yourself

One of the longest running holiday campaigns out there, Office Max unveiled its famous ‘Elf Yourself’ promotion back in 2006 and it’s still going strong. If you still haven’t checked out ‘Elf Yourself’, you’re missing out on some laughs as well as a great source of marketing inspiration for your own holiday initiatives. The campaign’s main goal is to offer highly engaging entertainment that can be easily personalized and is therefore likely to be shared between users.

Customers can upload a picture of themselves or their friends to be superimposed on the body of a dancing elf. The personalized creations dance around to Christmas music and can be shared via social media or through email.

Although Office Max has revived Elf Yourself quite a few holiday seasons in a row, the company has made minor changes to the jingles and adjustments to the visuals with each passing year in order to keep things fresh. The campaign premise has remained static, but in 2012 Office Max brought Elf Yourself to smartphone users with a new mobile app. Office Max proves that you shouldn’t mess with a good formula, but you should be prepared to adapt as technology and social trends evolve.

Elements Of Successful Holiday Marketing

Although individuality is important when promoting your brand, it seems like many of the most successful holiday marketing campaigns share a few common elements. Here are a few takeaway lessons from some of the most effective holiday campaigns in recent years:

  • Keep Them Coming Back For More: While short-term engagement is still beneficial, the bigger value comes from creating a campaign that encourages frequent check-ins or interaction from customers. Use your holiday marketing as an opportunity to generate ongoing participation; focus your content on engagement and celebrating the season with your fans rather than simply pushing out product promotions.
  • Tie In Non-Holiday Promotions, Too: Consumers have needs that extend beyond the holiday season, so it’s worth designing your campaign to highlight the benefits of your brand year-round. Rue La La used their holiday marketing as an opportunity to remind customers that digital gift-cards can be purchased for Christmas presents but also at any point during the year.
  • Embrace The Holiday Spirit, But Don’t Compromise Your Brand: It’s worthwhile to integrate holiday themes into everything from your web content and design to your social media campaigns, but not the point of masking your established brand persona. Focus on themes that will resonate with your target audience, such as Coke Zero’s use of holiday sweaters to target Millenials, without compromising the spirit of your brand.

Looking for more marketing inspiration? Enter our contest to win 7 must-read marketing books by industry experts! Head to our Facebook page to participate.

About the Author

Emily is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario who covers a range of topics from technology to travel. She holds a Bachelor in English Literature and Business from the University of Waterloo. No matter how many projects she is working on, Emily always finds time for baking, reading, and yoga.

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