‘Tis the Season to Tug at the Heartstrings

Halloween has passed and it’s just one week until we stuff our bellies full of Stove Top stuffing, but whether you like it or not, holiday advertising is in full force. It’s evident from holiday decorations on store shelves and the constant blaring of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” from that very special office co-worker. If you’re looking for a way to win over your consumers during the holiday season, grab the tissues because we’re about to get emotional.

Most, if not all, brands will be in the midst of some type of campaign geared towards the holiday season. Last year, holiday e-commerce sales reached a total of $126 billion, a 16.5 percent increase in online sales from 2017. As consumers get inundated with more and more ads every year, it’s imperative that brands set themselves apart to be memorable. But how can you be memorable when today’s consumers have the attention span of a goldfish? You craft stories that tap into emotional storytelling.

While holiday commercials filling the airwaves this season are heavily focused on price and promotions, ads that tell stories and pull at the heartstrings tend to cut through the clutter. Think about it this way: when you’re on a first date with a lovely lady or gentleman, what would happen if you start to list all the reasons why you’re so awesome—all before the free breadsticks even come to the table? Your date is probably going to check out because no one likes being sold. Consumers evaluate your brand by feelings, not facts. If you want someone to fall for you, you tell your story in an authentic way.

That means, no laundry list of product benefits. Don’t scream “buy me” or “I’m better” or “our product is cheaper.” Brands need to tap into consumers’ emotions. Luckily for you, here are a few examples of prominent emotions during each holiday:
• Thanksgiving – togetherness, giving and appreciation
• Black Friday – FOMO, community and value
• Christmas – peace, kindness and nostalgia
• New Year’s – hope, self-reflection and encouragement

To win over your consumers during the holiday season, focus on crafting stories that tap into some of the emotions above. Your story doesn’t have to be a tearjerker (some of the best ads are), but they should make us feel good. It should get your consumers in the spirit and remind us why we’re celebrating whatever we’re celebrating. Year after year, Macy’s holiday campaigns opts for emotional themes and heartwarming plots.

Macy’s Space Station

Macy’s Wish Writer

Macy’s Old Friends

If the tears started flowing after that last ad and you forgot everything you just read, here are the cliff notes:

• Know your target audience
• Tap into the emotions that resonate the most
• Tell a great story

Brands have built their business not on the products they make, but on the relationships they’ve cultivated with their customers. Weaving emotion into your holiday campaign is a foolproof way to attract, connect and encourage your consumers to act. Next holiday season when you start to plan your campaign, make sure to open up your hearts and serve up a nice big plate of warm and fuzzies.

About the Author: Ken Phox is currently Group Creative Director at OH Partners where he crafts strategy, and leads innovation and creative development. He holds an MBA from Benedictine University along with a BS in Marketing from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Ken has worked across an enormous range of clients with different desires and budgets, always striving to rethink the way consumers engage with brands. Ken’s ability to bring big ideas as well as solid strategy has led to him producing award-winning work for brands such as McDonald’s, Boeing and the iconic “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaign for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

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