A look at the shocking, cute, unexpected, and traditional marketing campaigns this season

Each year the holiday season drives brands to develop marketing strategies that will hopefully break through the traditional sales and promotions clutter. It’s that special time of year that advertisers and marketers sometimes take risks, or stay the traditional route, to try and grab the attention of consumers one last time before the huge holiday rush. This last effort impacts whether they finish their last quarter of the year with flying colors, or a flop – no pressure.

The lotus823 team has taken a look at what the 2015 holiday marketing season has looked like thus far, and broke up the campaigns into four categories: the shocking, the cute, the unexpected, and the standard holiday. These campaigns have all taken different routes towards promotion, and caught our attention for their unique elements.

The Shocking

Cards Against Humanity, the game notorious for being the “party game for horrible people,” has shocked us again with a Black Friday “promotion,” – offering consumers the opportunity to pay $5, and receive absolutely nothing in return. This scheme, stunt, or ingenious tactic (however you may view it,) earned the company $71,145.

The gaming company has baffled us in the past, once by charging buyers $5 more on Black Friday and still seeing a boost in sales. Truly sticking to the brand’s identity of being awful and unpredictable, the card game has once again won the holidays with its one-of-a-kind marketing strategy.

The Cute & Informative

This year, Target has entered the holiday season with a campaign appealing to both children and adults alike, and bringing out the adventurous side in all of us through a “holiday odyssey.” One of the imaginative journeys involves a variety of beloved characters, including Minions, Lego people, Barbie, and Elmo, taking you to a holiday land. Along with the whimsical tale, Target’s other ads include reviews from Barbie and Ken on the latest retail deals and sales coming from Target’s newsroom.

The campaign isn’t the most groundbreaking, but it’s more enjoyable than the usual holiday marketing we’ve seen in the past. The company bumped up its social media ad spend by 30%, but it seems to be effective so far, grossing 22.8% of Black Friday-related click share, with Amazon.com Inc. following at 10.6% click share.

The Unexpected Attention

This year I think we can agree on the winner for who put in the least effort and garnered the most attention – Starbucks. The red-cup controversy started when Starbucks released this year’s holiday season cups, and a video went viral of a former pastor saying that Starbucks removed “Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.”

The cups aren’t much different from previous years, which have included ornaments and reindeer. The simplified designs went viral across the Internet and the cup was an explosive conversation point for Americans. The rivalry generated a ton of free publicity – while other brands spent nearly $1 million on marketing, Starbucks was the talk of the nation for just making a plain red cup.

The Traditional Holiday

Coca Cola helped mold the image of the Santa Claus that we all think of and love today through its advertising in the 1930’s – a jolly man delivering toys and cheer. It’s no surprise that this year the brand has come up with another marketing campaign to expand its message on sharing the love. To our surprise, Coke isn’t releasing a new commercial, but rather recycling last year’s and putting out new print ads. Expanding on the “Share a Coke” campaign, the soda titan has designed labels for the bottles with holiday infused slogans like “Someone Naughty,” “Secret Santa,” and “Dasher & Dancer.”

As the holiday season continues, I’m sure we’ll see more outrageous campaigns along with the traditional.

What unique campaigns have you seen? We’d love to hear from you!

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