The Best Holiday Campaigns of 2017

Holidays are a special time: they offer a chance to pause, enjoy the comforts of friends and family, and celebrate our communities and our faith. Holidays are also a special time for digital marketers—especially the winter holiday season, as it often means larger consumer purchases of items outside the everyday. If digital marketers execute engaging ad campaigns, they have a chance to earn new customers, please loyal ones, and even permanently boost their customer base. The stakes, then, are not small.

Successful digital marketing campaigns are often a combination of sheer grit, detailed planning, and inspiration. If you’ve got the grit, we have the planning assistance and, with our top 5 stand-out campaigns from the 2017 holiday season, inspiration to spare:

1. Target’s “Together’s the Joy”

Target’s digital campaigns often hit that sweet spot of brand promotion: the retailer is front and center, but the focus is on the customer and what they might gain from shopping with the company. “Target’s at our best when we’re focused on what means the most to our guests. During the holidays, it’s joyful moments with those who matter most,” says Rick Gomez, Target executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Here’s the first ad (of several on the same theme) from Target’s holiday 2017 campaign:

 

There’s no shortage of magic and joy in Target’s holiday spot—toys that come to life, the promise of a beautiful new home, ample holiday magic, and strong a storyline all make for a compelling campaign. Even more delightful: the campaign subtly highlights Target’s new collaboration with Chip and Joanna Gaines of Magnolia (and of HGTV's “Fixer Upper”).

The Takeaway: A compelling campaign can turn the holiday season into the perfect time to introduce your audience to a new product, brand development, or collaboration—just be sure to heighten the magic.

2. H&M’s “A Magical Holiday

Talk about star power: Nicki Minaj and Jesse Williams steal the show in H&M’s stunning holiday 2017 short. Tradition with a twist, this updated Christmas fairytale tugs at the heartstrings:

 

As with Target’s ad, the brand messaging here is subtle: while H&M’s clothing and accessories are featured throughout, the entertainment value takes center stage.

The Takeaway: Offering your audience something special, like this star-studded fairytale, can build goodwill that’ll last into the new year.

3. Amazon’s “Give”

There’s no doubt that holiday shopping has evolved from main street to online, and Amazon sits squarely at the center of this new world. But, however you might feel about the shift from IRL to virtual, there’s no denying the adorableness of Amazon’s 2017 holiday ad:

 

Not only is the campaign endearing (animated shipping boxes greeting each other with a smile and enjoying the tickle of stamped shipping labels, and the heartwarming smile of a child), but we’re certain viewers of this ad will see Amazon’s signature swoop and arrow as a smile for weeks (and months) to come. Talk about lasting positive brand associations.

The Takeaway: In their minute-long holiday 2017 ad, Amazon shows their in-app mobile Christmas Store in action, pays homage to the folks working hard preparing boxes for holiday deliveries, and ends with all the possibility of the joy the perfect present can bring someone we love (which might just prompt viewers to hop on Amazon to complete loved ones’ wish lists). Play to your brand’s strengths and incorporate new tech organically, and your digital ad is sure to please.

4. Audi’s, “Parking Lot”

Audi’s 2017 holiday ad appeals to the frantic—yet exhilarated—holiday shopper in all of us: if you’re going to shop ‘til you drop, you might as well have a little fun while you’re at it.

 

Why simply park when you can turn the garage into your own personal racing stadium for your high-powered sports car? With over 7 million views on YouTube (and counting), it’s clear lots of folks agree (aspirationally, at least). The theme in this year’s best-of list is understatement and Audi is a shining example of the strategy: their vehicles’ performance stats aren’t highlighted, but we see them agily tearing around corners and stopping quickly—even the parking assist is highlighted in an engaging way.

The best holiday marketing campaigns of 2017 were all understated, not over-stated.

 

The Takeaway: Viewers want more than product stats—they want to be truly entertained (were you not at the edge of your seat during some of those blind corners? We sure were.) Audi delivers by showing, rather than telling—if you can accomplish the same you can go after those high engagement numbers, too.

5. Macy’s “Lighthouse”

At their best, the holidays bring out our generosity of spirit and bring us together, and Macy’s “Lighthouse” ad celebrates both:

 

We love how Macy’s thoughtfully (and creatively) placed one of its products at the center of an emotional story but, again, didn’t make their product the overt focus of the spot.

The Takeaway: If your campaign can embody the spirit of the holiday season while also featuring your product (or service) in a creative, memorable way, then you’re succeeding (and with 4 million YouTube views and counting, Macy’s ad is certainly succeeding).

Though the holiday 2017 planning season might be almost behind us, the lessons learned here can be applied to holidays throughout the coming year. Hungry for even more killer campaigns to serve as strategy in your 2018 planning? Check out our Best Campaigns of Summer 2017 post, and our ultimate best of 2017 list, as well.

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Jaime Netzer is Spredfast's Senior Content Marketing Manager, leading content operations. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly and reads constantly.