2015 marks the 25th anniversary of Mexican beer brand Corona’s O’Tannenpalm spot. As a result, the brand released a behind-the-scenes video that explains how the ad came to be – alligator wranglers included – and why it has endured. In it, Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, says, “The difficulty with holiday ads is it’s easy to be about the holiday, but it’s tough to own it in a unique way.” And that’s the challenge brands face every year.
Christmas 2015 will undoubtedly be remembered as the year of the Starbucks Red Cup Controversy – or perhaps Reese’s #AllTreesAreBeautiful response to complaints about its blob-like Christmas trees, retailer Target’s OCD sweater scandal or U.K. retailer Robert Dyas’ sexual orientation video – but there are plenty of other brand moments worth noting this season.
— REESE’S (@ReesesPBCups) December 3, 2015
Perhaps a sign of the times, one major 2015 theme is focusing on the good of humanity and being kind to each other, such as this spot from U.K. grocery chain the Co-operative Food, in which a young man shopping for a party ends up doing a good deed for an elderly neighbor. Tylenol embraces similar messaging in its inclusive #HowWeFamily series.
But we also find lighter fare this year, such as surprise endings, as well as how to respond to bad gifts – or even how to #SaySorry to your cat.
Here are Momentology’s picks for the 25 best Christmas marketing campaigns of 2015.
U.K. department store John Lewis’ #ManOnTheMoon spot was one of the most highly anticipated holiday ads this year and did not disappoint, telling the story of the bond forged between a little girl and a man who lives far away.
It has 22.4 million views since November 5.
According to the brand, the campaign “encourages us to show someone they’re loved this Christmas” and includes a partnership with the charity Age UK to help raise awareness of the million older people who go a month without speaking to a friend, neighbor, or member of family.
The retailer has also created a Man On The Moon app, which uses augmented reality to “bring the moon to life.” By pointing a phone at the Man on the Moon image – which can be found on posters and shopping bags – or by holding the device up to the actual moon, users can unlock a 3D interactive moon that releases daily facts and animations in the countdown to Christmas Day’s full moon, the brand says.
UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s turned to a beloved children’s book character, Mog the Forgetful Cat, in its 2015 holiday spot, Mog’s Christmas Calamity.
The ad follows a series of unfortunate incidents with a most unlucky cat in the wee hours of Christmas morning, as well as – spoiler alert – friends and neighbors who band together to ensure Mog’s family has a happy Christmas after all. The video has more than 25 million views since it posted November 12.
Sainsbury’s also offers a book by the same title, and, per reports, UK parents are up in arms because the retailer ran out of Mog stuffed animals, which have since popped up on eBay for £90.
Spanish Christmas Lottery
The Spanish Christmas Lottery spotlights #Justino, a night watchman at a mannequin factory whose only friends/coworkers are mannequins and who starts creating increasingly elaborate setups for his daytime colleagues, who he never actually sees. The endearing spot has 4.8 million views since November 16.
Low-cost Canadian airline WestJet has become something of a viral sensation for its holiday efforts in recent years. And, on December 9, the brand attempted to continue its streak by facilitating 12,000 so-called “mini miracles,” or “[acts] of kindness that [evoke] a positive response from someone,” in a 24-hour period.
In the end, WestJet said the brand recorded nearly 32,000 mini miracles, such as contributing to food drives, donating blood, shoveling sidewalks, cutting off hair for cancer, and collecting clothing for charities and needy individuals.
The airline then compiled footage from this day for its annual Christmas miracle video, noting, “Miracles do happen when we all work as one.” It has 700,000 views since it posted December 15. In addition, the brand says the initiative garnered 10,000 mentions on Facebook and Twitter, 200 million Twitter impressions, and more than 300,000 visits to the mini-miracle website hub.
Promoting the ideal that “when you believe, magic happens,” a four-minute film from Coca-Cola and J. Walter Thompson Brasil show “how the love of a father for his son rescued Christmas magic and changed the lives of an entire city” in A Bridge for Santa.
It has 240,000 views since November 25.
The campaign also included a caravan of illuminated Coke-branded semi trucks that traveled across Brazil and could be tracked via an interactive map.
What’s more, in Western Europe, Coca-Cola distributed limited-edition packaging labels on so-called 1.75-liter Bow Bottles of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coca-Cola Life. As the name implies, these labels can be peeled off and turned into decorative bows.
A forlorn sprout finally finds people who appreciate him – like Doctor Who and Sherlock – in BBC One’s Sprout Boy Meets a Galaxy of Stars. Conveniently, the spot, which has 118,000 views since December 16, also highlights BBC One’s lineup on Christmas Day.
This year, the retail behemoth conducted something of a social experiment in its To Give or To Get video, telling children they could pick any toy at Walmart and keep it or give it to a child that doesn’t get many presents during the holidays. And, out of hundreds of children, nearly 80 percent chose to give, Walmart says in the video. It has about 20,000 views to date.
In addition, the brand has also requested parents to ask their own children if they’d rather give or get and to share ensuing video responses with #FillTheTruck.
On the lighter end of the spectrum, Walmart also created a video series with actor Craig Robinson, the Best Holiday Gifts as Sung by Craig Robinson, in which he sings ditties about what to get various recipients, like kids, gamers, nature lovers and “the stylish.”
Tech company Lenovo also puts a spotlight on generosity and selflessness in its Holiday Giving spot, which also integrates its Yoga Tab 3 Pro tablet and reminds consumers to “project a little joy this holiday season.”
In PornHub’s wordless spot, an otherwise forgotten patriarch receives a Pornhub gift card from a young relative who somehow understands precisely what he wants.
The ad touts Pornhub’s new Premium’s gifting service, which the brand says offers users an ad-free experience, faster playback, and higher quality streaming of its millions of videos. With the tag line, “This Christmas, give the most touching gift,” the video has 5.3 million views since it was posted December 3.
Calling Apple “some old friends,” Microsoft employees from around the U.S., as well as members of a New York City children’s choir, went caroling from the Microsoft Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to “their neighbor down the street.”
Using the tag line, “Spread harmony,” Microsoft says the video “[shares] a message of peace and harmony.” It has 1.9 million views since it was published December 1.
For its part, Apple tapped singers Stevie Wonder and Andra Day to perform Wonder’s 1967 holiday hit, “Someday at Christmas,” resulting in 3 million views since November 25.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjBZoOs_dXg
British department store Harvey Nichols gets a bit cheeky in its Avoid #GiftFace spot that features a young woman who must endure countless gift atrocities. Thankfully, the brand notes consumers can avoid gifts “that are beyond terrible” and aren’t “even worthy of gathering dust on your shelf” by finding the perfect one at Harvey Nichols.
It has about 70,000 views since November 9.
Currys PC World
In a similar vein, British electronics retailer Currys PC World tapped actor Jeff Goldblum for a series of two-minute videos in which he helps disappointed gift recipients #SpareTheAct by envisioning what they truly want under the tree.
“Sometimes we need to act to maintain the Christmas spirit,” the brand says. “At Currys PC World, we have everything you need to avoid those awkward festive moments.”
According to the brand, 74 percent of Brits fake positive reactions to disappointing gifts and hearing the phrase, “That’s lovely,” “That’s nice,” or, “Just what I wanted,” could be a sign a gift missed the mark. Currys even worked with social anthropologist Kate Fox on how to identify gifts that were not well-received and issued the Currys PC World Language of Gift Exchange report with its findings.
German supermarket chain Edeka swings for the fences in #HeimKommen, or Homecoming, in which – spoiler alert – an old man fakes his own death to finally get his family to visit him for Christmas. Using the tag line “Time to come home,” it has 43 million views since it was posted November 28.
In a similar vein, Belgian mobile company Mobitar puts a thought-provoking spin on staying in touch with family in its A Christmas Love Story spot, which has about 17,000 views as of December 8.
Luxury accessories brand Coach features an enterprising young woman who takes matters into her own hands with Santa when she ends up on his naughty list in #GiveCoachOrElse, which netted the brand 5.5 million views.
British lifestyle brand Mulberry’s #MulberryMiracle spot reimagines the Christmas story with the role of Jesus played by a handbag. It has generated more than 1 million views since November 2.
Luxury fashion brand Burberry is celebrating 15 years of Billy Elliot in its “festive film,” which includes three minutes of British actors, models, and musicians, including Sir Elton John, Romeo Beckham, Michelle Dockery, and James Corden on a trampoline. It has 12.4 million views since November 3.
For its part, Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky teamed up with “actor, humorist and woodworker” Nick Offerman to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the first ever Yule Log broadcast, which was originally a holiday gift to New York City residents who did not have fireplaces from TV station WPIX. This year, Lagavulin and Offerman have filmed what they call a “new live-action rendition” that “promises to be the most enjoyable fireplace-viewing experience of all time.”
The resulting 45-minute-long Yule Log video features Offerman sitting next to a roaring fire drinking whisky and staring at the viewer, occasionally scratching his ear or crossing his legs. It has 2.3 million views since December 3.
According to a press release, Lagavulin and Offerman are requesting that the “titans of the TV and video streaming industries” replace their traditional Yule Log with their version from 10 to 11 PM each night throughout the holiday season as it is “the preferred hour of after-dinner Scotch whisky enjoyment.”
The effort also includes a My Tales of Whisky YouTube channel with additional holiday-themed videos featuring Offerman.
Calling it “the ultimate celebration of the season,” Swedish retailer H&M turned to singer Katy Perry, as well as a dizzying array of gingerbread men, dancing gifts, nutcrackers, bears in sweaters, candy canes on stilts and Christmas trees on roller skates for a spot that has 5.2 million views since November 22.
In a perhaps bold movie, candy brand Kit Kat eschews traditional holiday fare and instead welcomes viewers to nothing but a white-ish screen with a voice talking about taking a break from all the usual holiday stuff in its Christmas Break video, which has 30,000 views since December 6.
Incorporating what could be the most highly anticipated movie of all time, battery brand Duracell’s Battle for Christmas Morning reminds viewers to “never underestimate the power of imagination” and shows “what’s possible when two young Jedi power up their lightsabers with Duracell and enter the Star Wars world of imaginative play to take on Stormtroopers, Tie Fighters and the rest of the Dark Side,” Duracell says. It has 15.9 million views since October 29.
Looking to educate consumers about online threats and how to secure devices and protect data, malware prevention brand Norton created a three-part video series, Santa Got Hacked, in which Santa’s Naughty or Nice list, or what Norton calls some of the biggest data in the world, is compromised and Santa threatens to give everyone in the world coal.
According to Norton, the videos “take a humorous approach to raise awareness around a culturally relevant and important issue – online crime” as Norton research found 80 percent of Americans are concerned that they will experience online crime, but they aren’t doing enough to protect themselves.
The one-minute videos have about 1.4 million views to date.
Using snuggling up for story time as its jumping-off point, Target says its holiday campaign, The Holiday Odyssey, tells a story with the spotlight on many of its holiday toys and products like Minions, Ninja Turtles, and Barbie.
In the ensuing video series, three children join Target’s dog Bullseye on an epic journey to light a Christmas tree.
The campaign also includes a digital storybook narrated by actor Neil Patrick Harris. In addition, the brand launched Target Wonderland, or what it called a “first-of-its-kind retail experience” that combines “the best of physical and digital” in Manhattan.
“Part magical toy store, part Pop Art exhibit, it’s the perfect place for families to share smiles, selfie moments and delicious treats,” the brand says. In addition, the space includes elements from the Holiday Odyssey campaign, like the S.S. Free Shipping Lego ship, a giant Etch-a-Sketch, a super-sized Xbox Kinect Snow-N-Roll and a Rube Goldberg-like contraption to personalize an ornament, as well as “a peek at the future of retail, imagined by Target.”
For its part, the cookie brand put out a call to action in its Wonder Carols video to “Help us give the gift of song by sharing your own holiday memories and stories,” which Oreo could then use to create new carols. It has 1.8 million views since December 7.
As of December 18, the effort has resulted in four new carols and videos in Oreo’s YouTube channel.
Similarly, McDonald’s in the UK asked consumers to share their best backseat singing for possible inclusion in its Christmas Day TV ad in its #JourneyToChristmas effort.
Integrating its smart home management system, Iris, home improvement retailer Lowe’s launched a Santa Tracker app, which it says allows consumers to “monitor and manage your home and track Santa this holiday season.”
According to a video overview, the Santa Tracker app includes roof, chimney and milk and cookie sensors. The video itself has 115,000 views since December 7.
On December 15, GE invited consumers to take a digital journey on Instagram through #GEWinterland, or what it called a “magical snow globe village powered by the world’s most advanced technology.”
The journey began at @generalelectric and took participants through a series of connected accounts of GE businesses and partners that it said “bring to life the awe-inspiring power of technology.”
According to a press release, the self-guided tour explores modern technologies and offers users a chance to spot hidden snow globe easter eggs.
“Through connected mosaic illustrations and animated videos, #GEWinterland maps the modern industrial technologies that touch every human life. These mosaics also illustrate how GE shares technology and knowledge between businesses – what is known as the GE Store,” the brand says in a release. “Follow the CSX ‘Power Express’ pulled by GE’s Tier 4 locomotive, the most fuel-efficient locomotive in the world; take in the snowy view atop of a 400 FT wind turbine; and witness the beautiful chaos of the Brilliant Toy Workshop, where data works like magic.”