’Tis the season: DS+CO’s favorite holidays ads
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. More specifically, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for brands to harness the holiday spirit and create marketing campaigns that pull at your heartstrings.
When the holiday season arrives, brands focus on campaigns that encourage generosity and remind us of the most sentimental memories we’ve perhaps forgotten. We smile, we laugh—and sometimes we cry. And when holiday marketing gives us something deeper to care about, that brand leaves a little mark, hoping we remember them next time we make a purchase.
We all have different reasons these ads affect us and motivate us to take some sort of action. So in the spirit of sharing and coming together this holiday season, we’ve created a rundown of our favorite holiday ads from a few of us at DS+CO.
1. The show must go on
This holiday spot from Amazon in 2020 is one of my all-time favs.
The obvious connection to dance and my love of dance is one of the reasons, but from a brand perspective, I believe they did an incredible job highlighting Amazon’s importance in our lives, particularly in 2020 and no doubt at the holiday time that year when package/parcel delivery became an absolutely essential part of our pandemic lives. You can tell the brief for this was strong and executed marvelously.
—KIM ALLEN, CEO
2. How do we know the holidays are here? This commercial makes its annual appearance
My favorite holiday ad is the Hersey Kiss Bells ad.
And I love chocolate.
—JESSICA SAVAGE, PRESIDENT
3. A loveable pup + a cold beer = it’s just magic
My most recent favorite is the LL Bean commercial from 2021. Regardless if it was a :15, :30 or :60 spot, it told the sweetest story about a dog and his favorite flannel shirt that he would constantly steal from his owner. The pup was later gifted a flannel of his own, and the connection between the owner and his dog just melted your heart—no words were spoken, but the beauty of the message shined through. I smile just thinking about it!
My favorite classic is the Corona holiday spot—it doesn’t get any simpler that a palm tree located near a small house on the beach, lighting up as “Oh Tannenbaum” is being whistled in the background. It’s just magic.
—MICHAELA STONE, Media Supervisor
4. Two ads you can’t help but watch
I’ve seen this commercial at least 100 times on streaming networks this season—and Amazon certainly doesn’t need to advertise in this house—but I still automatically look at the TV every time it comes on. Why? Because the “Jiggle Jiggle” dance was everywhere with the kids this year on TikTok. Amazon brilliantly placed its main message on screen right when the song cued up. And every single parent looked up to see it.
This isn’t an ad we’re seeing here, but the UK has some fantastic holiday commercials this year. My favorite is Asda grocers bringing back Buddy the Elf. Between this and “Spirited” on Apple TV+, Will Ferrell’s face is even more all over Christmas than usual. To be honest, it’s just pure holiday happy, and I’m here for it.
—JEN MORITZ, Senior Editor, Creative Services
5. Don’t wait for luck to happen
It’s a beautiful ad with a story to pursue happiness and not to wait for it to arrive. I think this resonates so deeply with us all who have lived through the past three years of divisiveness, social injustices, reckonings, cancel culture and political turmoil.
The storytelling is heartwarming and beautifully captures how sacrificing for experiences and others brings true joy and connection.
I imagine being in that briefing and the conversation centering around the idea that lottery players, and even those who haven’t yet tried their hand, say … “Yeah, when I win the lottery I will …” This flips that script and promotes the idea of not waiting for luck to strike but seeking what you want and making it happen for yourself. It’s an empowering ad just as much as a heartwarming one.
—ROSI STATT, Managing Director, Strategy
6. The holiday ad that makes us hungry (and teary-eyed)
Sometimes the best stories don’t have an ounce of dialogue, and Kroger proved that with their Magical Cookbook spot. It has the emotion of a Pixar film (it’s actually rather similar to a scene from Ratatouille) and conveys so much through simple on-screen action: family, memory, tradition and, of course, food.
—NICK GUADAGNINO, Copywriter
(All those good things in one ad meant it’s a DS+CO fan favorite, making the list TWICE this year. Apparently, using Pixar-esque animation will give you a winning ad!)
This is the commercial that has made the strongest impact for me in terms of emotional connection and response. It’s not from a UK company but a US one. I’ve seen it 10 times and I still get a lump in my throat and chill bumps when I watch it. Let me know if it gives you all the feels, too. Products are front and center without being forced into the story. This likely wasn’t inexpensive to make, either, with Pixar-level animation and a re-record of a popular song.
—MARK STONE, Chief Creative Officer
7. What would Christmas be without love?
I love this ad because it reminds you to spread kindness, especially during the holidays.
In the crazy world we all live in now, showing simple acts of kindness can help to make someone’s day better.
—AMANDA MAXIM, Account Director
8. THEY DO EXIST!
Well, that’s quite the holiday ad roundup, and honestly, I love them all. But I wouldn’t wrap this up without getting the last word in (my colleagues can vouch for that).
I vividly remember seeing this classic M&M’s ad each and every year growing up. The funny thing is, this ad doesn’t go after emotion. Instead, its focus is humor. Yet, I got emotional seeing it for the first time this year.
Thinking about this fact and after talking with my fellow holiday ad connoisseurs, it’s clear why M&M’s keeps running this ad year after year. It’s a classic that brings me right back to the years I watched it as a little girl, excited for presents and holiday chocolate. For me, the humor transcended time and evolved into pure nostalgia. And around the holidays, that’s exactly how I want to feel.
No matter the holiday, season or campaign, all of us at DS+CO are passionate about creating ads that tell a story—that evoke emotion and encourage action. Feel free to reach out to us here when you’re ready to talk with us about your upcoming campaigns.
Until then, happy holidays and an even happier new year.
Emma Alexander is DS+CO’s content manager and email strategist.