Ho Ho Homogenous marketing?
Yay and nay this Christmas.
Having the benefit of spending part of the “holidays” in my old home of London and my new home in LA has meant that I have seen the distinction in marketing efforts between the two.
Philosophers and sociologists around the world have oft-claimed that the difference between Europe and US society was collectivism vs individualism—the suggestion being that Europeans prioritize the group and Americans are a little more me me me.
Without entering the strong cultural and economic factors that make this somewhat true and ridiculous all at once, my perception is somewhat different - and reflected in this mini-review of some of the bigger campaigns of the season.
The USA celebrates the end of November with as much ardour as Brits give December 25th.
One clear difference between the UK and USA is that, regardless of how it's communicated, Christmas is the main event in one—and not in the other.
Thanksgiving is a very big deal and while the language around it has rightly evolved due to acknowledgement and respect of Native and indigenous communities, for this newbie it felt bigger than ever. Meanwhile, the UK is still all about that Pagan pageantry rebranded by the Christians.
One example of bridging the two holidays in style was US campaign, Lowe’s Home Layover.
While Brits have to brave the M1 for Christmas, Americans have to brave airports. And if Home Alone 2 has taught us anything, American airports are no fun at this time. Especially if you become stranded.
Lowe’s saved the day by transforming Wyndham airport hotel rooms into winter wonderland escapes. So whether you were missing your parents’ perfect turkey or just reliving your adolescence in front of the TV, being stranded never felt so good.
A smart detail? The campaign centred on salvaging Thanksgiving but the rooms took the opportunity to promote Christmas decor. Sneaky, no?
Meanwhile in the UK, the idea of collectivism took on new meaning with Cadbury taking Secret Santa to the next level.
On a mission to unite the nation around a simple gesture that echoes the true spirit of Christmas, the brand is inspiring people across the UK to send a free chocolate bar, in secret, to someone special.
The gorgeous ATL-cum-brand-experience is another great example of Cadbury owning a season with solidarity and charm. And collectivism - albeit confidential collectivism.
In the USA, there is nothing confidential about the legion of influencer-led efforts this year.
The pet retailer, Petsmart has been extending the reach of its influencer partnerships beyond social media for its holiday messaging. The 'petfluencers' not only have the humans looking super-festive but also their famous fur babies.
Is a puppy that earns 10 times more than the average American the ultimate in individualism?
Caring about each other has been en-vogue for some time now. Especially in the holidays. Even in the USA.
Where this may have gone turbo is in Walker’s (Lay’s) Christmas campaign in which young men (and their emojis) discuss their inner feelings.
Supporting Comic Relief, the advert subtly acknowledges that Brexit Island has seen better years but also shoves crisps in the mouths of the uneasy.
Ta dah - crispy collectivism wins out.
It's the little things that count.
Regardless of whether it’s poodles in puffer jackets, unsolicited candy droppings on doormats or a Narnia-like hotel room, there is a focus on both sides of the Atlantic that it’s the small things that count this year.
A post-pandemic lethargy mixed with crippling costs of living, the lavish has been replaced with the helpful. Collectively cuter than the excess of yesteryear perhaps.
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