A Look at 4 of 2018’s Show-Stopping Holiday Campaigns

Sir Elton John. A young creator. Puppies. An astronaut who is also a mom. These are the protagonists of four of last year’s most compelling, high-impact holiday campaigns.

These campaigns made expert use of visual storytelling. One relied totally on user-generated content (and puppy love). None of them included an overt call-to-action. It seems that when it comes to the holidays, tugging on the world’s heartstrings with powerful visuals and a strong narrative is your best bet.

John Lewis & Partners: The Boy and the Piano

“Inside a lovely home decorated for Christmas, Sir Elton John sits alone at an upright piano,” writes H.B. Duran at a.list, setting the stage to describe this sweet and moving holiday video for the British retailer John Lewis & Partners.

“After a moment, he begins to play ‘Your Song,’” Duran continues. “We land in the humble living room of a British family where a young boy receives a piano for Christmas. Eyes filled with wonder, the boy touches the ivory keys for the first time. As Elton John looks up from the piano, we realize that it is the same one. Viewers are left with the message, ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift.’”

The video combines irresistible storytelling; expert, nostalgia-tinged filmmaking; and a very familiar, yet always irresistible song. The result is one of last season’s most compelling campaigns.  

L.L.Bean: 12 Days of Puppies

The venerable Maine-based retailer has hit on a holiday marketing strategy that works so well they repeat it year-after-year: The company encourages their customers to show off their beloved canine companions on Instagram.

“Sometimes the best way to resonate with your customers is by showing you care about the things they love most — in this case, their dogs,” writes Michelle Bitran at Yotpo. “L.L.Bean runs an annual holiday Instagram campaign called #12DaysofPuppies, inviting their followers to share sweet photos of their dogs for the chance to be featured and win a gift card. Since most dog owners love sharing pictures of their furry friends, this contest is the perfect opportunity to collect a ton of user-generated content while promoting a branded hashtag.”

Macy’s: The Wonder of Giving

Thanks to the annual New York City parade that bears its name, the Macy’s brand is virtually synonymous with the winter holidays. Thus, it’s obligatory for the retailer to come up with great holiday campaigns, or risk letting down its admiring customers. In 2018, with “The Wonder of Giving,” Macy’s more than met its annual challenge.

This visually stunning video shares the tale of an astronaut who opens a very special gift from her family while traveling through space. It’s a wonderful example of the brand’s knack for consistently telling great stories, writes Rhonda Bradley at The Manifest. “Macy’s is no newcomer to storytelling. In fact, in 1874, its New York location was the first store to feature holiday stories in plated glass windows, Macy’s holiday campaigns prove that storytelling never gets old,” she writes.

Apple: Share Your Gifts

The message here is all about being brave enough to share your talents – not phones, iPods, or laptops. Our young heroine is a tireless creator – who keeps her creations to herself. Until… something magical happens!

“Apple focused on an idea rather than a product,” writes Duran. “Aside from the woman typing on an Apple laptop, the brand didn’t push sales or products to holiday shoppers. Instead, Apple sent a message to all those creators out there who are afraid to share their work. The heartwarming ad quickly rose to the top ten trending list on YouTube in just one day.”