What can B2B PR learn from holiday ads?
Holiday season is well underway, which means festive campaigns are back. Every year, Christmas ads swap commercial messages for imaginative stories that spark feelings of comfort, happiness, and joy.
Here are some lessons B2B and communications professionals can take from some of the best holiday ads:
1. Focus on people, not sales
Brands know consumers want to feel connected during this season, rather than being bombarded with emotionless adverts with the sole purpose of driving sales. Christmas is a time to celebrate each other, and B2C advertising reflects that in abundance.
For example, Amazon’s “Joy Ride” ad features three older women happily sledding down a snow-covered hill, just like they used to do in their childhoods. This perfectly encapsulates the holiday spirit, without pushing for a specific product or service. The focus is on an older (often neglected) demographic, reminding us that having fun and human connection knows no age.
Ultimately, a product or service can be relevant for several audiences, but what differentiates a brand is its core values and those of the people it’s targeting – a good lesson for B2B brands.
Delivering intangible worth that communicates human values beyond a sale enables brands to form genuine bonds with both consumers and businesses alike.
2. Storytelling is vital
B2B brands looking to claim their place ahead of competitors should take inspiration from the way Christmas ads lean into heart-warming stories that transport us to magical worlds. Creating truly memorable brand stories is no easy feat, but can build invaluable brand awareness when done right – lasting years, even decades.
Just look at Coca-Cola, a brand that is intimately and forever linked with Christmas, even helping shape the image of Santa we know today. Much like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”, the legendary red trucks rolling into town signal the star of the holiday season.
Adobe’s “Click, Baby, Click” is a perfect example of leading with a story that still manages to address customers’ pain points without it – or the sale of a product – being the focus of the narrative. The result is a memorable and entertaining advert that proves a good story is easier to recall than a competitive price.
And then there’s John Lewis (you can’t talk about holiday ads without mentioning them), whose Christmas campaigns are eagerly anticipated each year. The brand has historically mastered the art of weaving emotional, magical stories that leave a twinkle in everyone’s eye – and always make headlines.
This approach can be taken by B2B brands, who often stick to corporate KPIs and product lists to communicate their messaging when they should be leading with imaginative stories that add value beyond their services. Crafting a well-told story can generate stronger and longer-lasting connections, built on shared values rather than product offerings.
Slack took storytelling to further heights with its “So Yeah, We Tried Slack…”, a campaign stylised as a mockumentary – think The Office – an easily recognisable format that entertains as much as it informs.
3. Human touch brings any campaign to life
Christmas adverts are usually centred around family, union, celebration, and above all, love, which often lead online conversations to go offline, generating buzz that builds brand notoriety. There isn’t a set formula to make a truly festive campaign, but the one essential element is human touch.
In 2021, for example, Tesco launched “This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us” showcasing people’s determination not to let anything – even Covid – stop them from enjoying Christmas. The human resilience displayed mirrors peoples’ strength in their own lives and it’s this relatability that makes the ad so successful.
Amazon’s “Kindness, the Greatest Gift” campaign has loneliness as the story’s driving emotion, with an ending that proves there is always light at the end of the tunnel. While Boots’ 2018 “Gifts That Get Them” explores the recognisable and often complicated dynamics in mother-daughter relationships.
Tapping into these familiar emotions drives human action. Over two-thirds (69%) of marketers stated that B2B purchasing decisions are just as emotionally driven as B2C. We don’t always remember the cheapest or most efficient product, we remember the brands that make us feel something; something business owners and leaders also relate to.
PR isn’t just for Christmas
Christmas ads prove how rewarding building a strong human connection can be. The festive season is about showing people who you are, not what you do. It’s about the best messages, not the best prices – a lesson for the entire year, not just December.
B2B brands often get tangled in the technical Christmas lights of their industries and forget about building recognition for their brand through personalised, thoughtful communications campaigns. Emotions aren’t exclusive to the holiday season or consumers, and brands should keep this in mind all year round. If Christmas advertising has taught us anything, it’s that campaigns need to be, above all, relationship builders.
If you would like to find out more about crafting B2B PR and communications that help drive long term results, get in touch here.