I love the holidays. But not for the reasons you think. I love the holidays because I love to see all the fun and funny marketing campaigns. I look forward to all the commercials and even Youtube some of my favorites from years past to remind me of their cleverness.

Join me for some cocoa and a cookie as I review four of my favorite holiday campaigns from years past.

Oldies But Goodies


I can’t talk about holiday marketing without talking about the branding giant CocaCola. Coke’s Santa-themed marketing has been a staple in US culture for as long as I can remember. In fact, when I was little, I (and probably many other children of young and impressionable age) had thought Santa only drank the two Cs- Cocoa and Coke. In my older and wiser age, I now know that Santa has more options than cocoa and Coke.

I realize the impact this imagery had on me growing up. Coke’s repeated imagery year after year has made this drink a symbol of the holidays almost as much as Santa. Every year when I see Santa with a Coke, I am transported back to my pig-tailed youth and remember holidays past.

Take a note from Coke’s playbook: don’t be afraid to build a holiday strategy for the long haul. If you create a consistent image and message year after year, your customers will begin to naturally associate you with the holidays.

Warm Fuzzies


Starbucks has always marketed itself as a place to connect with others over a cup-a-joe or with the world via their free WiFi. However, their holiday marketing always seems to create a sense of connecting AND sharing.  And with their “buy a cup, get a cup to share” promotion from last year, Starbucks encouraged a sense of selflessness by allowing customers to “gift” a drink to someone else. Now wouldn’t giving someone a free hot, delicious beverage give you a warm fuzzy?

Now, you can generate warm fuzzies in your own business by creating a sense of giving and selflessness in your holiday marketing or events. You can organize a charity drive and give discounts or a free gift to all who participate. Or you can label your sales like Starbucks did as “buy one, get one to give” sales and bank on that warm fuzzy feeling to get customers coming through the door.

Sometimes Laughter is The Best Medicine

Kmart/Joe Boxer

In the past, Kmart was not high on my list of places to get my holiday shopping done. It just didn’t pop into my head as I was checking off my list of gifts.

Until their “Show Your Joe” jingle bell commercials aired in 2013.

The shock of men standing in their underwear. Then the men shaking their hips to the bell-melody of “Jingle Bells.” The first time I saw one, I laughed out loud- literally. And then I had to call my sister and tell her about the commercial. And then I told my husband about it when he came home. And when we finally saw it together we sat together laughing at the sheer hilarity and genius of the ad. To this day when I pass a Kmart, I get a smile on my face thinking of men in boxers shaking their hips.

Sometimes the best way to have staying power with your brand is to make your customers laugh. By using laughter, you are helping your customers associate happiness and fun with your business. Every time they talk about or share that funny thought, joke, or video with others they are building awareness for your brand. And in this digital age, any type of humorous campaign can be created and shared across multiple platforms increasing its viral-potential.

So don’t be afraid to “make ‘em laugh.”

Trip Down Memory Lane


Holiday marketing can bring up strange memories. And the most interesting brand that I remember from my youth is Folgers coffee. I don’t recall seeing Folgers coffee commercials any other time of year. But when I start seeing holiday ads, the Folgers brand comes to the front of my mind. Now, I don’t drink coffee- I’m more of a Tea gal myself- and yet I remember these commercials with vivid detail. I can even sing the little jingle, “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup…”

So why do I end with this example? Because I think Folger’s holiday marketing has the most value for a small business. Don’t be afraid to jump in and compete with the big dogs during the holidays.  Even if you don’t do lots of marketing during the year, holiday marketing can make a significant impact on your customers.




  • Josh Virchow, November 10, 2015 @ 8:51 am

    I enjoy the whole “warm fuzzy” idea from Starbucks! And I remember that Kmart commercial as well lol.

  • Matt Christensen, November 10, 2015 @ 12:40 pm

    Another one is WestJet Airlines. I loved their videos where people at the airport could talk to Santa, ask for what they wanted, and get it at their next stop. It was awesome!

  • Tonya Davis, November 10, 2015 @ 1:08 pm

    Coca-Cola is always a classic. I remember all their commercials with the polar bears sharing coke. I always enjoyed seeing Starbucks’s red cup designs over the years, but this year, it is literally just red. I feel like they should have done more with it, but I get that they don’t really want to offend people, even though they still managed to do that this year.

  • Maria Williams, November 12, 2015 @ 2:03 pm

    for me it has to be the coca-cola commercials. I remember since I was little watching during the Holidays and it will make me wish to have snow in Mexico because of their Santa and polar bears commercials.

  • Steven Spencer, November 12, 2015 @ 7:26 pm

    I always think of the Coke commercials with Santa and the Polar Bears.

  • Robin Johnson, November 13, 2015 @ 2:19 pm

    That’s the company I almost exclusively associate with holiday branding for me as well. But, as someone who grew up in Alaska, it always irked me when they put polar bears & penguins together. There are no two animals who actually live further away from each other! I end up ranting about it every year. Still, though, I can’t help but associate it with Christmas despite the error. You can just go wrong with Santa, snow, and adorable animals who share & are kind to each other.

  • Sani Nielsen, November 15, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

    That was a genius marketing campaign. It built good will and news of that campaign went viral FAST!

  • Sani Nielsen, November 15, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

    HAHA! Yeah, I think it’s kind of laughable that the cups are blank and people are STILL offended. What kind of world do we live in that people get upset over nothing- literally nothing!

  • Caz*, November 22, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

    @SaniDee:disqus I want to see some hot Christmas commercials! Are they on YouTube?

  • Andrew Williams, December 16, 2015 @ 2:55 pm

    I love the Lexus holiday commercials with the white cars with bows. It makes me sad though because they are out of my league, but I like to see them.

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