We’re deep in the heart of the holiday advertising season, which always produces some of the best commercials of the year. From Coke’s annual polar bear ad, to the unforgettable Folgers ad, every holiday season has its good and bad ads, and 2014 is no different.
Apple’s recently released holiday ad is, in many ways, a great example of holiday advertising. This ad features a granddaughter creating a trans-generational remix of her grandmother’s old song, to present to her on Christmas morning.
Notice that the product barely features in the ad. Apple has always been great at holiday commercials (and all commercials, really) for that reason – they focus on what you can do with their product rather than on the product itself.
Apple’s holiday ad from last year followed the same strategy, and ended up winning an Emmy. Featuring a phone-addicted kid who is apparently missing all the Christmas festivities only to reveal he’s been making a family movie of them all along, the ad evokes that special holiday feeling, all while making the case for the versatility of the iPhone.
Kohl’s takes a similar angle in the ad below, which also features a too-cool-for-school tech-obsessed kid getting a dose of holiday cheer. The clothes are only incidentally there – it’s the reindeer and the father-son relationship that take the spotlight.
This next ad, from England’s Sainsbury’s supermarket chain, takes the production value up a notch. It focuses on the (apparently real!) story of a Christmas Day truce between English and German troops during World War I, emphasizing the holiday spirit of sharing while also giving a shoutout to the fact that the Sainsbury’s was in business even back in 1914.
When all else fails, hiring a celebrity tends to work. H&M hired Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett for their Christmas ad this year, lending some Las Vegas swagger to the holidays.
But a celebrity won’t absolve you from needing a good idea or basic production value, as you can see from this neither here nor there commercial Weird Al did for RadioShack this year.
Finally, to show you sometimes simplicity wins over all, we’ll leave you with Hershey’s 15 second holiday masterpiece, now over a decade old:
As you can see, when it comes to holiday commercials, focusing on mood rather than product has become an industry standard. We, for one, are happy for the added subtlety and creativity this approach inspires!