Consider the holidays a ramp up to Super Bowl season as several big-name companies compete for the most memorable holiday commercials and active holiday marketing campaigns. Who can forget last year’s KMart Jing Bells commercial or the annual march of Clydesdale horses romping through the snow?  These commercials go down in holiday marketing history, right next to a decade of dancing GAP commercials.  These memorable holiday celebrations have staying power that continue to make these brands recognizable year after year.

This year isn’t any different.  Check out these top holiday campaigns and see what you can do to emulate their annual cheer in your own online marketing practices.


Coca Cola Instagram Photo
Fans of Coca-Cola share their holiday photos on Instagram

This one should come as no surprise.  Throughout the holiday season, Coca-Cola has the whole Santa-vibe on lockdown with their Santa Claus-themed-beverage packaging and reliable holiday-themed commercials.  These annual festivities leave only one question each year – is it the Coke or is it the Santa?  Even non-Cola fans are willing to admit they think “Christmas Coke” has something different about it, something better.

Either way, businesses big and small can take a page from Coca-Cola’s best business practices and follow suit (no, not the big red kind) with a cross-marketing campaign that ties their efforts all together in a way that makes their product simply irresistible.

With Coke, it starts with a heartfelt, inspiring TV commercial.  Today, their commercials not only advertise a sense of sharing and happiness, they include a merry little hashtag.

Coca Cola Twitter
Coca-Cola share their #MakeSomeoneHappy campaign on Twitter

While Coke aims to make their customers and internet followers happy during the intense holiday marketing season, they are also genuine in wanting to know what makes you, the customer, happy now and throughout the year.  Coca-Cola perfects this genuine two-way communication by opening the lines throughout all of social media – resharing fantastic holiday themed photos from their followers, encouraging holiday donations and sharing via their #MakeSomeoneHappy twitter campaign while posting funny, yet informative blogs over the holidays like this classic, Ugly Sweaters = Big Business or 5 Things You Never Knew About Santa Claus and Coca-Cola.  You can even jam holiday music direct from their blog!  Coca-Cola goes above and beyond to brand their business as a one-stop-shop for all your holiday cheer.


Macys Make A Wish Christmas Campaign
Macy’s shares their letter-writing campaign on Twitter

If anyone else has a direct phone line to Santa’s workshop, it is Macy’s.  Famous for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and one of the largest, most elaborate designs of the North Pole at their main New York City location, complete with the opportunity to speak to Santa himself, Macy’s has also made a name for themselves for the Christmas letter writing campaign.

This year, Macy’s continues their charitable effort that stood as a great success during the 2013 holiday season by encouraging their followers to write their Christmas letter to Santa either on their website or with stationary you can download direct from their website!  They even provide an eBook for teacher’s to encourage students to write their own Christmas letters.  As a result, each letter received by Macy’s will then be matched with a $1 donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation.  This holiday campaign goes down in history as the Believe campaign.


Starbucks Dances The Carlton
Starbucks dances the Carlton for their #StarbucksforLife campaign

Everybody who is anybody that has ever had a holiday flavored latte or steamer from Starbucks knows that the holiday season at Starbucks is something you can always look forward to!  And Starbucks likes to keep it that way.

With a complete website redesign, Starbucks boasts #StarbucksForLife contests and tantalizing photos of their holiday specialities alongside a chronological history of collector’s holiday-edition cups and thermos!  Who can resist?

As if the holiday season weren’t already a huge success for this ever-growing business, this year’s #StarbucksForLife campaign encourages fans to use the new Starbucks app with each purchase – giving them the chance to win a lifetime of Starbucks.  Likewise, the campaign encourages gifting your friends and family a cup of Joy via their Tweet-A-Coffee capability.

Follow Starbucks on Twitter via @Starbucks and tweet about your chance to win #StarbucksForLife

The Santa Tracker

Google Santa Tracker
Google helps you track Santa over Christmas Eve with Google Maps

Not everything about the holiday season has to scream “sell-sell-sell”.  Create lifelong advocates of your business by providing something usable and interactive for followers and families.  For example, the Santa Tracker.  While tracking Santa has been done countless times, and we don’t suggest every business has a tracker, the concept is priceless and exists today as a stand off between NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and Google Maps.

NORAD has been tracking Santa for over 50 years, far beyond the scope of the Internet as we know it today.  In 2007, NORAD and Google Maps teamed together to provide an interactive map and Santa’s Village for families to be able to track Santa across the world on Christmas Eve.  Having since parted ways, both companies still provide an interactive tracking app for their followers and both are wildly successful in raising awareness for the brand.

Need ideas for your own holiday campaign?

  • Try creating an exclusive Pinterest campaign.  Encourage users to pin their wish list direct from your website.  Track their pins by having them include a particular hashtag or by sharing their pin via Twitter and including your @BusinessName.  Create one big giveaway or give away one posted wishlist prize every day for 12 days, creating a highly engaging 12 Days of Christmas campaign.
  • Encourage your followers to post photos with your product and share their photos via Instagram.  Track photos by having your followers include a hashtag relevant to your holiday campaign.  Give your followers the gift of fame by sharing your favorite photos across your social media channels.
  • Create a campaign around your favorite holiday song.  For example, the “Do You Hear What I Hear” campaign can encourage your followers to post a short 15 second video on Vine or Instagram singing a particular holiday song or giving a heartfelt holiday message that your video gurus can then splice together into one, consistent message wishing all your followers a Happy Holiday and good cheer!
  • Create an ornament filled scavenger hunt, sending your followers across all your social media channels, your website, and your blog to pick up clues from various hidden ornaments.  These ornaments can lead to a hidden coupon code.
  • Create a how-to or gift giving guide for your customers.  These guides don’t necessarily have to be centered around your products or services alone or even at all.  Provide your followers with something usable and free.  For example, a security sales company can post a witty eGuide on properly hiding presents from your children, leaving the more direct call to action for their product as a last page reminder to be safe throughout the holiday season.

Regardless of what type of campaign you create over the holidays or throughout the year, keep in mind that each of these campaigns have a few things in common.

1. Include the Brand Image

– to help create that “recognizable” factor that builds trust in a brand

2. Exclusive and/or Timely

– encouraging immediate engagement

3.  Consistent Theme

– is more shareable and encourages more time browsing through the campaign