As the calendar year draws to a close, marketing teams everywhere begin to roll out their Christmas campaigns. These are often backed by enormous budgets, with one source estimating that ad spend has been doubling year on year on social media alone.
Join us as we take a look at all the different ways in which brands have been putting that money to use…
10 Examples of Christmas Advertising and Marketing Campaigns
• Social media
• TV ads
• Online ads
• Branded games
• Interactive content
• Augmented reality
• Product packaging
• Experiential campaigns
• Physical events
• Online events
Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, UGC)
Each year, music streaming service Spotify runs its ‘Wrapped’ project to give users a detailed report of their top songs from the past 12 months on the platform. In December 2019, they rolled out a special version of Wrapped that showcased a user’s favourite tunes from the past decade.
This annual Christmas digital campaign is a great example of UGC (user-generated content). By encouraging people to share interesting stats such as their most-played songs or favourite genres, Spotify is able to generate quite a buzz on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
The best part? The reach of their campaign is largely organic. At the time of writing, the #spotifywrapped hashtag has been used on Instagram over 100,000 times! 😮🎵
Starbucks is another brand that likes to flex its marketing muscle during the Christmas period. With new festive cup designs released each year, they’ve managed to establish a unique brand tradition that fans look forward to.
In 2017, they launched ‘Project Give Good’, featuring giveaways and cups with white space that customers could colour in and personalise. By encouraging people to post pictures of their designs along with the hashtag #GiveGood, they left no stone unturned in the UGC department. 📸
Although the world of advertising has made a significant shift to the online space in recent years, some of the best Christmas advertising campaigns are still those found on the good ol’ box.
There are many memorable TV Christmas campaigns from over the years, but we’ve become big fans of Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot character and his annual appearances. In 2019, the plot thickened as Kevin was confronted by an angry bunch of Brummie sprouts known as the ‘Leafy Blinders’.
Angered at their position at the bottom of the Christmas dinner pecking order, the gang of sprouts have Kevin tied to a box grater in attempt to cut him down to size. As the narrator explains: “In a dark village square an angry mob shouts, because Christmas before Kevin was all about sprouts…” 🥊
The rise of digital advertising has seen brands spend big on popular platforms such as YouTube. Online Christmas campaigns are the new normal for many big names, and there are numerous examples to draw inspiration from.
In 2020, Search Engine Journal put together a great round-up of online Christmas ads. This list contains a wide range of emotionally engaging adverts, but we have to say we’re big fans of John Lewis and their ‘Give a Little Love’ campaign.
We’re already looking forward to this year’s edition and of course the bonus return of @JohnLewis on twitter! #notaretailstore
Are you new to the world of branded games? Also known as ‘gamified marketing’, these online experiences offer up a cost-effective way to stand out from the crowd and add something special to a Christmas brand campaign.
Insurance firm Beazley are no strangers to using branded games as part of their festive marketing. In December 2018, they launched Beazley Risky Rider – an online game that saw players racing around a track on snowmobiles collecting policies and hitting tiles to get speed boosts.
Branded games support a wide range of marketing goals – from running a digital advent calendar competition and rewarding a target audience with prize giveaways, to boosting engagement on social media and collecting GDPR-compliant sign-ups through a game leaderboard. The image carousel below gives you an idea of all the different things you can do with a Christmas-themed game.
If you want to find out more about how you could use a game this Christmas, grab yourself a copy of our free eBook: Game Time! Your Guide to Christmas Game Success 🎄💯
If you haven’t yet explored the world of interactive Christmas content, it could be time to get involved. By promoting engagement through user participation, this form of marketing goes down particularly well with audiences around Christmas time.
Google’s Santa Tracker is a prime example. Every year on Christmas Eve, users can follow Santa in real time as he travels around the globe making his deliveries. Throughout the rest of the year, the website provides visitors with a tonne of entertaining interactive content.
Augmented reality (AR)
Augmented reality technology has exploded in popularity in recent years, so much so that it’s been making its way into the Christmas campaigns of some of the world’s biggest brands.
By creating an interactive experience that combines a real-world environment with computer-generated elements, AR quite literally augments the reality of those using the technology.
In December 2020, eBay used AR to target mobile shoppers with its ‘Santa Sneaker Drop’ sweepstakes. Users could see a virtual fireplace in their smartphone camera view, with an unwrapped gift then dropping down the chimney and popping open to reveal a prize or a consolation message.
Christmas product packaging
Walk into any supermarket or retail store around Christmas time and you’ll see aisles abound with festive product packaging. These attention-grabbing designs are great at encouraging shoppers to make a few extra impulse purchases that are only available for a limited time.
Coca Cola offers up a great example of a clever Christmas campaign with its Christmas bow packaging, which uses a special drinks label that can be unwrapped to create a bow on the side of a bottle. Pretty nifty, eh? 🤓
Christmas experiential campaigns
In November 2018, Virgin Trains painted the script from It’s a Wonderful Life on station platforms in a bid to promote mental wellbeing.
The campaign, which was created together with charity partners Rethink Mental Illness and The Samaritans, saw the quotes appear at 14 stations all the way from London to Glasgow. This is one of the best Christmas experiential campaigns we’ve come across, and we love the fact that it was used to encourage kindness, calmness, and spread plenty of that festive feel-good factor.
Marks and Spencer are no strangers to going all-out on their Christmas retail campaigns. In 2019, to coincide with their festive food campaign, they set up a physical Christmas market showcasing their range and invited 125 real-life customers along to sample the delights.
They then used the event to create an unscripted ad, with celebrities Paddy McGuiness and Emma Willis mingling with the families as they try out all the different Christmas foods on offer. The only drawback to the entire thing is that our invites appear to have got lost in the post. Oh well… 🙄
For many people, 2020 was a year to forget. It was marked by lockdowns, isolation, and a distinct lack of physical get-togethers – something that was particularly noticeable as the festive season rolled around.
But for the online event, it was a year to remember.
Take Kwik Fit, for example, who decided to launch a Christmas campaign with a difference. Using a ‘Kwik Fit Konga’ branded game and a digital advent calendar prize system, they managed to bring the festivities home with an online experience that went down a treat with both customers and staff alike.
Good luck with your own Christmas campaign!
We hope the examples above have helped to provide some inspiration for your own festive marketing efforts. For more help with your Christmas brand campaign, check out our related content:
- Christmas Marketing Ideas to Boost Sales and Engage Your Audience
- Social Media Advent Calendar Examples
- Christmas Social Media Games and Competitions
Be sure to also grab a free copy of our visual editorial calendar to support your planning from September – December 2022! ⛄