During the winter season, consumers are barraged with holiday ads on social media, television, YouTube, email, and pretty much everywhere they turn. To overcome commercial fatigue, brands must distinguish themselves by creating ads that resonate with their audience and stand out. Let’s explore a few ads that hit the mark and why they were successful. 

Holiday Ads Driven by Nostalgia

As a generation, millennials have a penchant for nostalgia. Considering their buying power in today’s market, it’s unsurprising that their affection for the past has driven resurgences in ’90s fashion and reboots of late ‘80s to early ‘90s films.

Walmart, whose 2023 customer base skewed toward female millennials, took note and launched a Black Friday ad that aimed right at the heart of early aughts nostalgia. The ad featured the cast of the beloved 2004 film Mean Girls, a movie that continues to occupy the pop culture lexicon today. The cast reprised their roles in a modern-day spoof of them as adults, hyping up Black Friday deals within the chipper, pink Mean Girls universe. 

Complete with nods to iconic lines like, “On Wednesdays, we still wear pink,” the ad’s storyline reflects life changes now-grown Mean Girls fans can relate to: becoming a parent, dealing with sassy teens, and shopping for deals on a budget. 

The spot was hugely successful, proving that nostalgia marketing is a powerful tool for consumer engagement. The key, however, was Walmart’s keen insight into its target audience and their behavior. 

Market to Sentimentality 

For adults, the holidays tend to conjure a mixed bag of emotions. No longer driven by youthful desires, Christmas serves as a benchmark, indicating the distance between us and our childhood. 

Amazon’s 2023 holiday “Joy Ride” ad hones in on the enduring spirit of childhood by telling the story of three older women who sit on a park bench, watching the neighborhood children sledding. One of the women, noticing the wistful look on her friend’s face, orders orthopedic cushions from Amazon. After presenting her purchases, she affixes them to the sleds, allowing the trio to join in the winter pastime. As they wiz past curious kids, they’re briefly transported back to the past, appearing as their childhood selves. 

The ad’s message is clear: with a few adjustments and accommodations, it’s still possible to feel wonder and joy. Regardless of age, most people can relate to how the passage of time changes and jades us. Hence, the ad articulates a common experience.

While Amazon’s ad has widespread appeal, it was likely designed to touch their most valuable customers: women in their mid-sixties with no children, a somewhat underrepresented group. The successful strategy earned “Joy Ride” high ratings from audiences.

Strike a Chord

Amazon’s spot ramped up the sentimentality with a piano rendition of “In My Life” by The Beatles. Interestingly, Apple’s “Fuzzy Feelings” ad featured “Isn’t It a Pity” by The Beatle’s lead guitarist, George Harrison. 

As well-known tunes by wildly popular artists, they’re familiar to viewers. Plus, both songs are tender and plaintive, quickly eliciting emotions in the span of a short commercial. While not all brands have the advertising budget to license iconic songs, they can still rely on music and familiarity to do much emotional labor. 

The Recipe for Success

2023’s most effective holiday ads combine market research and customer insight to inform their creative elements. At Savy, we use marketing analytics to identify and construct our clients’ average customer profiles. 

Gender and Race: What kinds of experiences do they face?

Age: What were the cultural elements that shaped their formative years? And which life markers are expected for their age range? 

Income: How much disposable income do they have? How are they affected by the current economy? 

Family status: Do they have a spouse or children to consider when shopping?

Crafting an appealing ad is easier once you have an accurate picture of your main customer.

For example, you wouldn’t market to a white female between the ages of 35 and 45 the same way you would market to an 18-year-old male. They don’t have the same concerns, responsibilities, or cultural references. Buyer persona research keeps your messaging relevant and ad campaigns impactful.

Upgrade Your Holiday Ads Campaign With Savy

The holidays offer brands a chance to connect with their customers on a deeper level. With a blend of data, design, creative content, and SEO magic, we can create and deliver ads to the right customer at the right time, in the right way. Contact Savy today and learn about how we elevate your 2024 marking plan.