Getting into the Advertising Spirit

November 13, 2012 | by Nina Altadonna

Hopefully you’ve finished all your Halloween candy, because you best believe it’s that time of year again.

Yes, I’m referring to that blissful, magical season between Halloween and Christmas—the one that tends to skip right over Thanksgiving—the time I shall call “Holiday Marketing Time!”

Just as horrific as a child feels watching a “Back to School” commercial, holiday marketing can create that same sense of fear for adults. Strategically airing the day after Halloween, holiday marketing does its job well by making audiences feel the need to go out and buy the perfect gift before it’s too late.

Now I’m not saying I’m a holiday marketing hater, but I will say there are some ads that make me want to laugh aloud in a cackled rage. As a marketer, I say, “Yup, get ‘em while it’s hot and make an impression.” But as a consumer, I often say, “Why is this happening? My Halloween costume is still lying on the floor somewhere.”

So to combine the marketer and consumer in me, I think it’s only appropriate to discuss the dos and don’ts of creating a great holiday ad that doesn’t horrify your audience.


If it’s relevant to your brand, go ahead, get some laughs. The holidays are supposed to be cheerful, and associating happiness with your brand is never a bad thing. Whether you’re poking fun at yourself or the holidays, if your message has a definite point that brings focus to your brand, go for it!

Shining example: Target, “Christmas Champ”


I assume you’re creating these ads to appeal to consumers. This means if you’re positioning your product as a holiday gift, make sure it’s attainable and not alienating to 99% of viewers. I mean, I love giving great gifts, but I don’t think it’s in my budget this year to buy my mom a new car. (Sorry Mom, no Lexus for you. But I hope you like the macaroni necklace I made you!)

Poor form: Lexus, “December to Remember”

(And really, how many years can you run the same campaign? I don’t remember a year they didn’t want me to have a “December to Remember.”)


If you can pull this off without being cheesy, I salute you. Bundling up the feeling of a warm burning fireplace and Granny’s homemade cookies is not an easy feat. To do this you have to be smart and sincere, and your brand values need to coincide with the characteristics that represent the holiday season.

Awww: Coca-Cola, “Snow Globe”


Maybe you’ve heard of scare tactics, but that’s typically geared toward public service announcements—not holiday advertisements. I do not wish to be bullied or chased by a giant dog. Giving me nightmares will not make me want to shop at your store. (Yes, this ad scares me. And no, my co-workers do not agree with me. They happen to think it’s adorable. Ew.)

Ahhhh: Target, “Big Dog”


“Oh, you made your commercial sound like ‘Carol of the Bells.’ I get it. Very original.” Seriously, don’t be that brand. We know that caroling, elves and Santa are staples of the holiday season, but just…cool it. And if you still can’t resist the urge, at least try something different and unexpected.

Intriguing, please continue: Target, “Is it time yet?”


There’s about seven weeks between Halloween and Christmas. That’s seven weeks of “Holiday Marketing Time,” and plenty of time to make audiences turn on you. Meaning, if you spend those long, cold weeks annoying me with your advertisements, I will probably disown you until Valentine’s Day.

Make it stop: eBay, “12 Days of Christmas”

PS: Who says you can’t be a little racy and inappropriate around the holidays? I say, the more the merrier.

1 Response

  1. Rosalina Altadonna

    A great point of view!

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