Holiday Ideas & Strategies

150 Years of the Best Holiday Campaigns

Brett Regan / 2 min read

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Genesis of Holiday Window Displays Chapter 2 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
Chapter 3 How Coca-Cola Invented The Father of Christmas (Or did they?) Chapter 4 Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
Chapter 5 Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Chapter 6 Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
Chapter 7 Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised Chapter 8 NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
Chapter 9 Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation Chapter 10 Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
Chapter 11 Folgers Advertises the Intangible Chapter 12 Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy an Ad Agency
Chapter 13 Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming Chapter 14 Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
Chapter 15 M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing Chapter 16 Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
Chapter 17 Target Keeps it Simple with Their Black Friday Catalog Focusing on Price Chapter 18 Pampers Silent Night Raises $40 Million for Charity
Chapter 19 Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress Chapter 20 John Lewis Focuses on Storytelling Over Brand
Chapter 21 Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools Chapter 22 American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
Chapter 23 Apple Misunderstood Campaign Makes Technology and Family a Priority Chapter 24 REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition
Chapter 25 Amazon’s “Give a Little Bit” Campaign Gives a Lot Chapter 26 Spotify’s 2017 “#2018Goals” Campaign Speaks Loudly
Chapter 27 Google Home’s 2018 Alone Again with Google Assistant Campaign is the Ultimate Nostalgia

No matter who you are, or where you’re from, the holiday spirit is alive and well.

For many holiday shoppers, that means finding that perfect gift for your loved ones. For many retailers, however, that means gearing up for a wild ride.

To ecommerce business owners and marketers alike, it’s more than just a festive season.

It’s about creating holiday gift guides and giveaways. It’s about using SEO skills to optimize your landing pages. It’s about getting new subscribers to your email campaigns and bringing back loyal customers. It’s about building that perfect messaging. It’s about bringing those unique holiday marketing ideas to life.

Whether it’s Amazon, Walmart, a new online store or anything in between, the holiday shopping season is a great opportunity to drive business. It’s a lot of work and pressure, of course, but the potential reward can be a game changer.

A good marketing strategy can boost holiday sales and beat last year’s numbers. A great one can last a lifetime. 

BigCommerce, along with our partner PayPal, researched the most iconic holiday marketing campaigns in history. Here’s a snapshot of the last 150 years of these memorable holiday retail marketing campaigns from some of the world’s most well-known brands:

Best Holiday Marketing Campaigns in History

Before the days of email marketing and social media hashtags, many brands used influencers and even their own mascots to create holiday ads that ran throughout the Christmas season. Those marketing efforts were impactful and laid the foundation for what we see and use today.

150 Years Best Holiday Campaigns Infographic

Did Coca-Cola create the modern day Santa Claus? Did a department store really invent Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Is Mr. Potato Head responsible for reshaping holiday TV advertising? How did a single advertising campaign raise over $40 million to fund children’s vaccines?

It’s time to find out:

  1. Macy’s Holiday Window Campaign
  2. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  3. Coca-Cola Invents the Father of Christmas
  4. Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
  5. Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  6. Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
  7. Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised
  8. NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
  9. Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation
  10. Kentucky for Christmas! Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
  11. Folgers Advertises the Intangible
  12. Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy Ad Agency of Record
  13. Coca-Cola’s Sledding Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming
  14. Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
  15. M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing
  16. Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
  17. Target’s Black Friday Catalog Focuses on Price
  18. Pampers’ “Silent Night” Raises $40 Million
  19. Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress
  20. John Lewis Focuses on Storytelling Over Brand
  21. Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools
  22. American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
  23. Apple Makes Technology and Family a Priority
  24. REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition
  25. Amazon’s “Give a Little Bit” Campaign Gives a Lot
  26. Spotify’s “#2018Goals” Campaign Speaks Loudly
  27. Google Home’s Alone Again with Google Assistant Campaign is the Ultimate Nostalgia

No matter which channels you use, for many brands (and likely even you), the holiday season — from after Halloween to Thanksgiving to Black Friday and Cyber Monday — is a make or break time, especially during the pandemic.

Perhaps these memorable campaigns can provide some inspiration for your content marketing team this year.

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Brett Regan

Brett Regan

View all posts by Brett Regan

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