Did Your Holiday Ads Move Your Brand?

Our commentary on holiday ads as posted in MediaPost’s MarketingDaily blog.

As 2016 begins, another season of warm and fuzzy ads has ended and we are no longer bombarded by smiling faces, weeping grandparents, holiday sweaters and sleigh bell music. And now that our focus is turning towards the upcoming onslaught of political ads, we’re almost nostalgic for holiday clutter. But we still wonder whether any holiday advertiser truly benefitted from all those ads?

Even the biggest of spenders can get lost in holiday noise. Years of seasonal tracking have shown us that even when marketers spend more during this period, they often get less: lower brand recall, lower advertising awareness, and less retention of key messages. Holiday spending numbers, although indicative of consumer confidence as well as response to advertising, also seem to support these findings. Early reports show that 2015 holiday sales rose only slightly over last year.

Yet not spending during the holiday period isn’t an option, particularly for retailers who need to boost sales, non-profits who rely heavily on charitable contributions or manufacturers of big-ticket items that are “considered decisions.”

It’s not too early to think about how to maximize impact during this coming year’s holiday season. And for 2016 we’d like to see advertisers draw more heavily on the values of their brand. In short, what is said matters as much as how much is spent — all year round.

Here are three suggestions for how to make your sales and fundraising work throughout 2016.

1. Never lose sight of what makes you different. Don’t forget why a consumer would be drawn to you in the first place. Mercedes Benz has always done a wonderful job of combining its heritage of performance and luxury and Santa. And Mercedes brand recall rates, according to Phoenix Marketing International, remain higher than other luxury cars.

2. Give people a compelling reason to engage with you. Compelling, positive proof points can help consumers make a connection and stick with you. TD Bank’s 2014 digital #MakeTodayMatter campaign showcased what 24 people in 24 communities could give back with $30,000, making positive statement for the bank while truly walking the talk of the holiday spirit.

3. Keep your momentum going. For retailers in particular, holidays are an easy time of year to focus on a one-time purchase. But what about reasons to stay engaged? Target’s 2015 “Journey Begins” spot kept consumers coming back during the entire holiday season by depicting an imagination-fueled world filled with Minions, Lego people, ninja turtles, Barbie and Elmo and more. The goodwill built will last well into the coming year.

Here’s to getting it right in 2016.