We are headed for a very strange holiday season. As the world is still grappling with COVID-19, we can expect some unique situations when it comes to celebrating the holidays with our friends and family. 

However, one thing has stayed consistent this year: an outpouring of holiday-themed commercials from the world’s biggest brands. Some ignore our current situation completely, others dazzle with special effects, while others lean into the pandemic head-on to build their story. 

In this post, we’ll be reviewing a few that we believe have just the right amount of holiday spirit that you can use to inspire your own videos.  

Effects of the Pandemic

While video can often provide a welcome escape from our current realities, relatable stories will almost always hit home. This is exactly what Amazon is capitalizing on in their holiday spot, ‘The Show Must Go On.’ 

This concept works well because it dives headfirst into something that is on everyone’s mind and wraps a heartfelt story around it. Instead of focusing on pitching products, it focuses on the story of overcoming a tough situation. They also include an, oh, so subtle touch of ‘boy meets girl’ as a way of justifying the young gentlemen making an Amazon purchase of a spotlight. This little detail is great product placement because it also helps to complete the journey.

Garnering an emotional reaction from the viewer is generally a foolproof way to produce a hit when it comes to holiday videos, or even videos in general. Emotions are key to motivating viewers to take action, whether it’s share, comment, or buy. It doesn’t really matter what time of year it is. To learn more about using emotions in your videos, explore our post on the science behind emotional videos. 

The Power of the Right Spokesperson

While this might not be obtainable for most companies, bringing in a heavy-hitting celebrity or thought leader in your space is a great way to push your message and build trust in your product or brand. SodaStream went with a huge celebrity for their spot called ‘The Small Things’ by enlisting help from Snoop Dogg. 

Instead of pushing the narrative using a strictly SodaStream theme, they lean into the humor that surrounds Snoop Dogg’s personality. This ad certainly would not have worked with just anyone: Snoop Dogg is the star.  

Still, they packed a lot into this 60-second spot. They pitch the product, subtly address COVID-19, and promote environmental causes. While the latter may seem a bit of a stretch for a sparkling water company, it’s likely to resonate with environmentally conscious millennial consumers.  

This works well because many people absolutely love seeing a familiar face in advertising. Celebrity endorsements are one of the oldest and most used forms of advertising for the simple fact that people form deep connections with celebrities, even if they’ve never met them before. From this, it’s an easy jump to trust them when they are promoting a product or service. 

One thing to note is that the feeling goes both ways. If people love your spokesperson, the ad will resonate. However, if feelings change because of a scandal or misconduct, you can assume it’ll have a negative effect on your business. 

Going for Gold

Our next example takes elements of the Amazon and SodaStream advertisements above, and ups the ante. Xfinity addresses the struggles of 2020, and they have a familiar face as the lead in Steve Carrell playing Santa himself. “The Greatest Gift” puts Santa and his elves in our shoes, adjusting to one of the most bizarre years to date. 

Where this video holds its own is the hilarious and heartwarming parallels to our “new normal.” Zoom calls with co-workers, working from home, frustrations when rethinking business strategy: all things many of us can relate to. 

Seeing Santa, one of the most beloved characters of all time, deal with the stress of this year’s events humanizes him in a way that will bring a smile to your face. The relatable jokes pile up over the course of the video, and end on an endearing note that wraps this video up like a Christmas present. 

Unlike the example with Snoop Dogg and SodaStream, Steve Carrell isn’t the entirety of the video’s focus. His star power certainly enhances it, but he is just part of a bigger story that unfolds throughout. 

The length of this video is important to point out as well. Typically, advertisements are 30-60 seconds. This ad is over three minutes long. Instead of trying to shove the full story into a small box, Xfinity chooses to go for a longer-form ad to help the story unfold naturally. This allows plenty of time to build on jokes, as well as time to explore the depths of the problem they ultimately end up solving. 

Typically a lot of video creators may shy away from longer ads but this proves that with the right story, it may be worth the extra minutes. If you decide to go with a long-form holiday video, look at our post on ways to use it to generate multiple marketing assets to get the most out of your efforts.

Get Extremely Creative

In general, when it comes to luxury advertising, anything goes. This can result in some insanely unique advertisements. Burberry takes creative freedom to a new level with their video, ‘Singing In The Rain.’

This holiday video starts off very subtly, then explodes into a choreographed masterpiece. The stars of the show are four young dancers, draped head to toe in Burberry. They take to the streets, seamlessly dancing whilst playing off each other and interacting with enormous hail stones. 

The creative decisions of this film make it really stand out. For instance, remixing a familiar song helps set the wintry tone. Most of the video is shot from relatively close vantage points to build excitement while the dancers progress down the street. However, ending with some dramatic wide shots help bring the performance home in epic style. 

The lesson here is one that can be borrowed from many luxury advertisements: don’t be afraid to let the creative juices flow. This ad works so well because it mystifies the audience and creates a world of wonder. It really stands out from the crowd of other holiday videos because the concept is so artistic. While tried and true methods are important, thinking outside the box every now and then can really pay off. 

Connecting Your Video to a Bigger Initiative

Without a doubt, John Lewis is the holiday ad heavy-weight champ. Each year, they spend millions of dollars crafting a story that melts the hearts of those around the world. We even did an analysis of their previous holiday ads to highlight what can be learned from their past successes. This year is no different, with their ‘Give a Little Love’ spot already earning millions of views.

This video does a great job of spreading some holiday cheer whilst presenting a beautiful ad. They enlisted the help of nearly a dozen different designers and specialists to help create one of the most unique ads out there.

However, what they do better than most is expanding the concept into a full campaign. Earlier this year, John Lewis was unsure if they would even create their annual holiday ad, but then decided to use it as an opportunity to create awareness for their charity partners. Considering how many people are in need of some kind of assistance this year, the whole ad is essentially an awareness piece for their ‘Give a Little Love’ charity initiative

On a dedicated landing page, you can learn about all the ways John Lewis is giving back this year. The thoughtful campaign includes donations for every purchase at John Lewis, a number you can text to donate, physical installations in stores, a page to read about the video production process, and merchandise where all proceeds will be donated to families in need. Pushing the video and these messages through social media also helps round out the campaign and reach as many people as possible. 

By making their video part of a much greater whole, John Lewis really exemplifying the spirit of giving around the holidays. Think of ways you can tie your videos to larger initiatives, or other elements you can incorporate beyond video that will complete your campaign.

Which holiday ads have you seen that have been particularly heartwarming or outstanding? Let us know below.