Great Examples of Holiday Ads

by Kedet | December 3, 2021


T’is the season to eat, drink and be merry. To get you into the mood for inspiration, we’ve put together our list of favorite holiday ads and campaigns.

As part of our “Great Ad Examples” series, we explore the creme de la crop of ads around the biggest days of the year to build a campaign. You can find our favorite ads for the following days:
And just like these, they will be living documents as we will continue to update these every year.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in and admire some great brands and ads!

Editor’s Note: This blog will serve as a living document. We will be updating it each year with more holiday ads we think are neat!

Photo by Mike Tyler on War Room Inc

Coca-Cola or Pepsi? It’s always been a debate, but hey, we’re not here to debate. We chose an example of each brand, and these ads are polar opposites, but both embody some holiday fun.

Coca Cola

There is no doubt Coca-Cola’s branding and product are iconic. They’ve been around since the 1890s!
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This vintage ad from the 1940s aged pretty well! Santa is caught red-handed, not for cookies and milk, but for a nice, cold bottle of coke! It embodies the childlike charm of the existence of Santa Clause and gives the audience a good chuckle because we know how refreshing a bottle of pop is when you’re craving it. Because of the intimate setting at home, it’s also sending the message that Cokes should be a staple in your fridge.

Do you think Santa would go for a Coke Zero in 2021?

Pepsi

Pepsi has always gone big with celebrity endorsement and awesome commercials. The Britney, Beyonce, and Pink ad singing “We Will Rock You” as gladiators in an arena will always be iconic.

Pepsi believes in star power, as they chose Cardi B to be their partner in 2019.

First featuring alongside Steve Carell in a Superbowl commercial, she was the star of this holiday advert in 2019. This specific ad was to promote their holiday season campaign of gifting cash prizes forward. This is definitely a more modern take, as Cardi struts her way through the Elves’ workshop, instructing them how to twerk (less hands, more hips)!

We especially loved the “Time to make it rain, deer!” pun and Cardi flying off in a sportscar as her sleigh. Or you can say, slayyy!

Google Assistant

We love a blast from the past! Stir up all the Christmas feels with Macaulay Culkin reenacting iconic scenes from Home Alone. Google cleverly worked its way throughout the McAllister home, highlighting their smart home features that made Kevin’s experience at home alone a lot cozier and a lot less chaotic.

Studies show that nostalgia creates a sense of connectedness, which reduces people’s desire for money. That means if you play into nostalgia, people are more likely to make emotionally-driven purchases!

Chase Bank

Speaking of nostalgia, Chase Bank also knows Home Alone’s power on people who grew up with it. The bank doubled the star power in their video ad with Catherine O’Hara (Kevin’s mom in Home Alone) reciting her iconic line from the movie and Kevin Hart popping out as himself!

Starbucks

Being in the advertising industry, we love seeing big brands develop creative ways to drive brand awareness and sales. A great example of this is Starbucks. They first roll out a holiday specialty drink for the holidays: this year, it’s the Sugar Cookie Latte. The exclusivity of it being tied to this year and the holidays already give it popularity. But pair it up with festive-colored cups, then every customer is a walking billboard!
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In 2021, they launched a limited edition, reusable red cup that is free, only on November 18th. This is part of their mission to reduce single-use cup waste by 50% by 2030. Now, that’s an initiative that consumers can get behind!
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We also like the fun that Starbucks has with its ads. Simple, creative, and spreading holiday cheer.

Amazon

This ad came out in 2021. It perfectly encapsulates the sense of burnout and anxiety many of us might be feeling throughout the pandemic. There are no grand gestures, dialogue, or really any “holiday” theming in this video ad at all. You can tell by the setting of the season and the main character’s occasional outfits clad in red, but Amazon focused on telling a story in this campaign. Their message was simple: a small gift to a neighbor is a gesture of kindness that many people might need in a time like this.
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We liked how they sneaked in that the neighbor ordered it on the Amazon mobile app. Easy peasy!

Spotify

In this campaign, Spotify took customer insights and showcased statistics that would earn a chuckle or two. Being the king of audio advertising, Spotify wanted to grow brand awareness with Out-Of-Home ads.
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Alex Bodman, Spotify’s global executive creative director said,

Part of our creative process is to think about the cultural moments, tensions and oddities that defined 2018 and then see how music and podcasts helped people respond. That’s why this year we decided to focus on Playlist creation; it’s one of our features that allows people to get highly creative. The fact that users give the playlists such hilarious names or use them to comment on broader cultural trends, only makes the material richer.

It acts like a Spotify Wrapped (year at a glance) reflection of the streaming platform as a whole and celebrates people’s ingenuity and life in general! We like that it offers humor and optimism at the end of the year.

Christmas Tree Visuals

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Not sure if we’d gift Pringles as a stocking stuffer, but we love a good pun!
The simple visual of the chips swirling up to make a Christmas tree is actually a popular design. Check out examples from other brands:
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VRBO

In the past year, brands had to update their messaging that matched the ebb and flow of the COVID-19 pandemic. We really enjoy seeing the creativity and different approaches brands take!

VRBO, a vacation rental site, used humor to tap into a need uniquely created by the pandemic. They showcased what working from home with the kids looked like, which may make your home a little “less presentable”. That could be a stressor with the upcoming holiday season, where family and friends would be visiting.

They launched this (we’d say, strategically) in early November, exactly to capture those who might be dreading hosting Thanksgiving and Holidays because of the clean-up required. Genius, right?

Macy’s

Macy’s focused on storytelling with this touching video ad. They barely showed any of their brand or products until the very end, and wow–they established themselves as THE gift destination for your loved ones.

Did this one bring a tear to your eye? (It did for us!)

John Lewis & Partners

John Lewis is a UK brand of high-end department stores. In 2018,
Like the Macy’s ad we just shared above, they wanted to tell a story and aim to touch the hearts of the audience. It shows Sir Elton John’s singing his hit, “Your Song” at home, then you are taken throughout moments in his life, where he performs around the world in different settings. But the most crucial part is the ending scene, where it’s 4 year old him unwrapping his Christmas present from his grandmother, which is his first piano, which forever changed his life.

It’s heartfelt and reflective.

However, some argued that the advert was more of a promotion for Elton John’s biopic, Rocketman, which was released around the same time, and pointed out that John Lewis didn’t even sell pianos! After facing the feedback, funnily enough, John Lewis listed some pianos on their online store. This reminds us, marketers, not to get entirely carried away from storytelling and stay grounded with effectively communicating our brand offerings!

We hope you enjoyed our curated list of favorite holiday ads! Perhaps they even sparked some inspiration for your campaigns next year!

Be sure to check out “8 Digital Marketing Tips to Drive Holiday Sales in 2021” for more holiday advertising content.

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