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Naughty or Nice: How to Launch an Effective Holiday Campaign

Written by: Sophia Pagliawan
November 11, 2022 • 11-minute read

How to Launch an Effective Holiday Campaign

The holiday season is upon us. For businesses and customers, this is easily the busiest time of the year. Early shoppers looking to snag deals mean that brands have to start putting together effective Christmas campaign ideas if they want to take advantage of the seasonal rush.

Launching a holiday marketing campaign raises the possibility that people unfamiliar with your brand might come across your campaign, either while browsing for gifts to give their loved ones or looking for business solutions. The holidays mean buying behavior is more active due to higher demand and a sense of urgency amongst buyers. Meanwhile, this is your chance to let other businesses know about your brand in a unique and festive way.

Implementing holiday marketing strategies also allows you to get creative with ads, newsletters, email sequences, and social media posts. It’s the perfect time to potentially express another more personal side of your brand that people can relate to. This is also the chance to try out strategies you would only use this time of the year.

If you're considering launching a holiday campaign for your brand but don’t know where to start, try to look to other companies for that holiday inspiration.

Whether it’s creating traditions or choosing to veer away from the norm and make history, here are three examples of holiday marketing campaigns that nailed it:

Starbucks’ Holiday Cups

Starbucks Holiday cups

(Source: Starbucks on Instagram)

Every year, Starbucks releases its iconic red cups for the holidays. These vary in design to reflect the message that the company wants to convey for that year. The red cups have become so well-known that it even has year-long countdowns for when new designs drop.

But long-running campaigns don’t come without hiccups. You might recall how Starbucks holiday cups became controversial in 2015. For that year, the brand released plain red cups to promote creativity and encourage people to draw on them, sparking outrage from a consumer segment who felt that the lack of designs implied that the company was “waging war on Christmas”.

Instead of fighting back against the criticisms or ditching the holiday cups altogether, Starbucks chose to focus on their brand values and continues to offer the cups to their global audience. Their dedication and receptiveness to customer feedback while staying true to their brand’s focus and values are the keys to the success of its long-running campaign.

Kate Spade’s “The Waiting Game”


In 2014, American fashion house Kate Spade launched a holiday campaign video starring actress Anna Kendrick, in which she showed off the brand's products in a manner similar to YouTube shopping hauls.

This campaign connected with the brand's audience by presenting a familiar format coupled with a convenient click-to-buy feature. Whenever Kendrick shared an item on-screen, customers could opt to purchase it directly, allowing them to indulge their holiday shopping needs in a fun and engaging way.

This campaign was so iconic that it won Gold for Fashion & Beauty at the 2016 Clio Awards, one of the world's most prestigious awards for creative excellence.

Pret A Manger’s #JoyWithPret

Pret a Manger JoyWithPret-1

(Source: Joe Allington on TikTok)

International sandwich shop franchise Pret A Manger made history in 2020 through its TikTok holiday campaign, becoming the first major British brand to anchor a Christmas social media campaign around a TikTok challenge.

In this campaign, Pret A Manger invited audiences to share what things bring them joy with the hashtag #JoyWithPret. Outside of utilizing the viral social media platform, Pret also asked some of Britain's most popular influencers—such as Joe Allington (@grandadjoe1933) and Laurie Elle (@laurieelle)—to participate in the trend.

By encouraging easy community participation, the videos under this digital marketing campaign garnered over 139 million total views after only one day.

Now that we’ve covered a variety of inspiring Christmas campaign ideas, here are 3 holiday marketing tips on how to execute your own:

Female looking on the computer

(Source: Microsoft Edge on Unsplash)

Review previous holiday campaigns.

If you’ve done holiday marketing campaigns in the past, it's good to go back and evaluate how well those previous campaigns did. To help you in your evaluation, here are some questions to think about:

  • What were your campaign’s strengths? Take note of what worked for your brand in the previous years. For example, people loved Kate Spade’s “The Waiting Game” holiday campaign so much that it became a whole series that spanned multiple years and collections, not just Christmas.
  • What aspects need to be improved? How can you make up for any of the low points that occurred in the past? Starbucks’ 2015 campaign to promote creativity with the plain red cups didn’t go according to plan. So, for the following year, the brand chose to promote creativity better by featuring customers’ designs on its cups.
  • What about your audience? Have you updated your customer data to accommodate any changes in your buyer persona? Will your campaign resonate with your current audience? Pret A Manger kept its audience in mind by using a platform its target customers frequently use.

Beyond looking at your own holiday campaign track record, look at your competitors' holiday marketing strategies and analyze what went right and wrong for these companies. You can take inspiration from what to do and not to do when executing your own holiday campaigns.

Remember though that there is a thin line between imitation and inspiration. Avoid copying each and every aspect of your competitor's marketing strategy—you have different goals, audiences, and buyer personas at the end of the day.

Plan your campaign.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail”—this is true in most (if not all) aspects of life. Whether you’re an individual or a business entity, you should plan carefully and meticulously. Avoid planning at the last minute, as this leaves you prone to leaving critical details out of the equation.

To help you plan for your Christmas marketing campaign, here are some things to consider:

  • Plan as early as possible and set SMART goals
    Some companies start campaigns as early as October and go on until January. However, this still depends on the industry your company belongs to. Some instances may mean that it’s more profitable for you to implement a holiday campaign closer to Christmas day.

    Planning early allows you to set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that will serve as the benchmarks for your campaign’s success.
  • Determine your target audience
    If you already have buyer personas, this is an excellent time to update them based on the information you've gathered throughout the year. Narrow down your customer base further and create a specific buyer persona for your holiday campaign by answering questions such as: What is your core demographic—are they mostly Gen Zs and Millennials or are they much older? What are your audience's device preferences and do they prefer to use mobile over desktop when consuming content and media?

    A better understanding of these details allows you to tailor your campaign to resonate with your target audience, enabling you to focus on the challenges that your brand can help your buyer persona solve. Narrowing down your audience will also help weed out the people you don't want your campaign to target. Ultimately saving you time, money, and effort.
  • Decide on a theme and evaluate your design
    What is the main goal or message of your holiday campaign? Are you out to share the Christmas spirit or do you want to focus on raising brand awareness?

    Whatever your theme is, this should clearly reflect in your campaign’s design. It can be in the form of themed logos or graphics in your digital marketing campaign. Be thoughtful about how you place Christmas elements on your website or platform as this can impact bounce rates and user experience.

    To find out if you should proceed with a particular design, answer these four questions when evaluating design work:

     1. Does the design provide a solution?
    2. Does it fit your audience and your brand?
    3. What are its key features?
    4. How does it stand out?

    Once you've answered these questions, look at the overall visual aesthetic of your design. Make sure each element works seamlessly and in harmony with the rest. If you feel stuck, go back to the main goal of your campaign and see if the design reflects the message you want to convey.

If you’re feeling extra festive, the holidays present a great opportunity to consider partnering with a non-profit organization for your digital marketing campaign. This season is the perfect time to work with a cause you and your customers believe in. A certain percentage of the product or service cost going to the organization incentivizes your buyers and makes them feel good about their purchase. You can start either with a local organization or figure out which one is the closest to your customers' hearts.

Execute your campaign.

After planning the necessary aspects of your holiday campaign, you can now think about the specific digital marketing strategy you want to implement. You can go all out and integrate multiple channels, or you can keep things simple and settle for one or two platforms. Here are some suggestions you can take into consideration:

  • Optimize for mobile
    As of early 2022, mobile devices generated 54.4% of global website traffic with 55.4% of internet users using mobile phones to purchase online. With these statistics, optimizing your platform or website for mobile should be one of your priorities. It will decrease bounce rates and encourage people to subscribe to your offer. After all, a good design can attract customers only when seen the way it’s intended.
  • Send targeted emails
    Holiday marketing campaigns are a great time to try out different creative strategies to attract new buyers. However, don't forget about your existing customer base. You can launch a holiday email marketing campaign that sends out targeted emails based on the segmentation of your contacts. Segment your holiday list by year-round vs. seasonal shoppers. After that, you can reward the first group with a loyalty program and entice the second group with coupons, discounts, and promotions. Your target audience will appreciate these personalized emails more than a generic email blast.
  • Syndicate your content
    Content syndication saves you time and money. It also introduces your best-performing content to a whole new audience, creates a unified experience for your customers, and increases your site’s authority with high-quality backlinks. You can do this by republishing your content to other websites as a guest blogger or repurposing them into new forms. For example, turning your webinars into blogs or your blogs into a comprehensive eBook.

A well-executed holiday campaign not only gives you a boost in sales but also raises brand awareness.

It's exciting to think about the additional profit that end-of-the-year celebrations might bring your brand. So if you’re ramping up for the holiday rush and need help with planning and executing your year-end marketing campaigns, we're here to help. Our digital marketing service packages can help you get ahead even beyond the holiday season.

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Sophia Pagliawan
Sophia Pagliawan
Sophia is a Content Marketing Associate at StraightArrow with a passion for food, magic, and makeup. She is a big fan of any show with snakes or dragons and dreams of having a pet dragon of her own—no matter how impossible that may be.



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