Friday, December 20, 2013

Sales versus Sentiment in 2013 Holiday Ads

Maybe it’s the seemingly never-ending economic recession, but it appears that the ads this Christmas season in large part have been pretty hard sell.  Gone, it seems, are the days when ads sought to tap that sentimental nerve in all of us that long for seasonal warmth and even a sense of nostalgia around the holidays.  It just seems like fewer and fewer ads are going for the heart.

Rather, regardless of the product, the message seems to be the same. “Time is running out.  Prices are right.  Buy!”


My take is that companies have endured a few too many soft holiday seasons in terms of sales.  In the past, it may have been a good strategy to tie a bow around a brand with the warmth of the holiday season, but this year, there’s no time or patience for that. 

Here are a few  examples from VerizonRadio Shack and Old Navy that focus on product over sentiment:



While ads can take on all sorts of forms and follow a range of strategies, here are the basic choices advertisers have to make around the holidays.

1.    Go for the heart with sentimentality or even humor, hoping that in doing so, the audience will get a good feeling and transfer that good feeling onto the brand.  This creates a favorable impression but not necessarily an immediate motivation to buy.  This often falls within what is called “institutional advertising.”

2.    Then there is the ad that may tap sentiment, but it may also touch on the social value of the product or service being advertised.  An ad that features smart phones being used by local animal shelter volunteers, for instance, plays up the emotional punch of an altruistic cause while also showcasing the societal value of the product.  In many cases, since a product like a cell phone, could be any brand of cell phone, the commercial serves to bolster the image of an entire category of products.  That’s why this is called “category advertising.”

3.    And then, of course, there are the ads that go for the jugular.  They are the ones that leave no doubt what is being advertised, why it’s being advertised, where to get it, and the call to action is – “Buy now!”

Here are a couple of classic institutional ads around the holidays.  One is from  Miller and the other is from local restaurant chain Eat 'n Park in Pittsburgh.



So is sentiment passé in holiday ads in 2013?  Not completely.  If you look, you can find it.  Here is a really nice one from Apple that just might do the trick this year and put you in the holiday spirit.

Merry Christmas.

No comments:

Post a Comment