These 5 Brands Nailed Their Christmas Marketing Campaigns

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for clever marketing campaigns that combine nostalgia and cutting-edge technology. #MichaelsWilder #holidaymarketing Click To Tweet

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for clever marketing campaigns that combine nostalgia and cutting-edge technology. Although most holiday campaigns have only been running for a few weeks, big brands have been working for months in advance to strike the perfect balance between holiday cheer and smart product marketing, hoping to draw in Christmas shoppers. The result is some genuinely magical marketing. So, to help you get in the festive spirit, we’ve rounded up 5 examples of holiday marketing done right.

Gather around the fireplace, and get inspired by these genius Christmas ad campaigns. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. But most importantly, you’ll be filled with holiday cheer.

1. Google: Santa Tracker

Combining the whimsical spirit of the holidays with the innovative tech that makes Google a global leader, the yearly Santa Tracker provides real-time updates on Santa’s location as he makes his journey around the world.

The Santa Tracker started with a misprint. Back in 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) suddenly started getting hundreds of calls from children looking for Santa Claus. NORAD is an organization that monitors airspace above the U.S. and Canada to ensure air sovereignty and provide defense. Until then, however, they had not been in the habit of tracking Santa Claus. NORAD officials soon discovered that the calls were prompted by a misprint in a magazine ad that accidentally substituted Ol’ Saint Nick’s phone number with their own.

Since then it became a tradition for NORAD to track the jolly gift-giver and respond to hopeful children’s calls. In 2004, Google launched a competing service using their own technology, which it later made available for anyone to use, and over the year, the search engine giant has added games and social features to make the experience all the more special.

2. Starbucks: Coloring Cups

As you’re probably aware from the hundreds of news pieces written on the subject, Starbucks releases a new Christmas cup design every year, some with explicit Christmas theming and others dressed in a simple winter-inspired pattern.

In 2017, Starbucks cheekily played into the controversy by inviting customers to design their own holiday cup. The “coloring book style” featured sharp black outlines of holiday designs like snowflakes, mittens, presents, and holding hands. Encouraging customers and baristas alike to add their own drawings and colors to the design, Starbucks chose some submissions to showcase on their own social pages.

This isn’t the only time Starbucks has demonstrated its mastery of crafting one-of-a-kind Instagram-worthy products. The infamous unicorn frappuccino and color-changing cups are other prime examples of how Starbucks creates buzz through limited time “gotta-have-it” items. Everyone wants a picture with their very own customized holiday cup, and recognition from Starbucks itself is the ultimate status symbol.

3. UPS: Wishes Delivered

The holiday season is all about giving.

Incorporating that spirit of generosity, UPS launched the “Wishes Delivered” campaign, an initiative that supported good deeds across the country. From reuniting a soldier with the dog she rescued overseas to delivering presents to less fortunate children, UPS uses this campaign to showcase heart-warming stories from their company. It also encourages others to use the hashtag #WishesDelivered to highlight their own acts of kindness.

The campaign is a great way to focus on company values, give back, and encourage others to do their part.

4. Office Depot: Elf Yourself

Have you ever wanted to see what you and your friends would look like dressed as Santa’s little helpers? No? Well, here’s your chance anyway.

Created in 2006, Elf Yourself started as is a website that allowed users to upload their friends’ and families’ faces and paste them onto the body of a dancing elf. Later introducing more customizable scenes, a dedicated app, and AR features, the campaign is still a holiday staple. Just last year, Office Depot partnered with Facebook to create an AR filter that allows users to “Elf Themselves” in real-time.

Yes, it’s more than a little goofy, but the combination of that strange, silly imagery and interactivity is what makes it perfect for social sharing. In fact, over 1.8 billion elves have been created since 2006.

5. Lagavulin: Nick Offerman’s Yule Log

Sitting in front of the burning Yule log and opening presents is a long-held Christmas tradition, dating back to the middle ages when families chose an entire tree to bring home and burn throughout the 12 cold days of winter solstice both to keep warm and as a symbol of warmth and rebirth soon to come. Throwing a log in the fireplace on Christmas Eve is a tradition, but luckily for those of us without a working fireplace, YouTube is here to provide a digital alternative.

Users have uploaded hundreds (if not thousands) of videos featuring cheerful music and lightly glowing fires to the video-sharing site for others to enjoy while they unwrap presents and spend time with loved ones. Lagavulin cleverly capitalized on this trend by offering their own version of the age-old tradition, featuring renowned whiskey-lover Nick Offerman sitting serenely by the crackling fire and sipping from a tumbler of amber-colored Lagavulin.

It’s a genius move on the part of Lagavulin. Nick Offerman is a delight, and who wouldn’t want to swap out their usual Yule log video one that features the charmingly gruff, whiskey-loving actor? Without speaking a word, Offerman refocuses the conversation and makes Lagavulin one of the main topics of conversation at any office party or family gathering.

 Be Merry

While the holiday season is undoubtedly stressful, especially for businesses striving to hit year-end sales goals, it’s also a time to unwind and have fun. The wonderful thing about these marketing campaigns is that they embrace the spirit of the holiday by giving back, spreading cheer, or just making us laugh.

As we enter the final countdown to Christmas, take a moment to enjoy the festivities, and have a very happy holiday!

Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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