Advertising across key calendar moments

Table of content
  1. Introduction
  2. Think creatively
  3. Think culturally appropriate
  4. Engage locally
  5. Spend money to make money
  6. Don’t miss the mark
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Kylie Taylor
1 year ago・10 min read

Little feels as intimidating to a marketer than the pressure of creating a worthy holiday advertising campaign. A hugely important part of the calendar year, holidays present a huge opportunity for unique and engaging marketing campaigns and if done correctly, bring a multitude of lasting benefits that stick around long after the last pine needle has been vacuumed up, or rotting pumpkin thrown on the compost heap. But with ever-increasing competition and a proliferation of holiday schmaltz dominating the advertising sector, it can be difficult (and daunting) knowing where to start.

But getting off that starting block is essential. Why? Taking advantage of holiday marketing – and nailing it – can lead to an increased customer following and engagement, boosting sales, brand awareness and forging long-lasting favourability with customers.1 And to not engage in holiday advertising, is essentially standing back and watching that low-hanging fruit fall to the floor in a wasted heap.

Irrespective of your sector, most industries experience an uplift at certain calendar moments across the year. For example, food and alcohol purchases alone rise by 20% and 38% respectively in December alone, with music and book purchases doubling2 according to the Bank of England. With a strong surge in demand, a significant increase in searches and with 55% of consumers basing purchasing decisions off video content3, marketers are missing a trick if they’re not investing in holiday-based content creation.

But advertising across big calendar moments means more than just the obvious holidays which come to mind, like Christmas and Easter. Cutting through the clutter when it comes to Black Friday, Summer Sales, or even during huge sporting moments, such as the World Cup, or Super Bowl – famed for the most creative and budget-busting advertisements on the planet – is essential if you’re going to deliver on the purpose of your marketing: to gain market share and deliver ROI.

Does one simply avoid and direct attention elsewhere, or do you join in and fight for a slither of attention? How do you ensure your campaigns rise more than your dismal attempt at Yorkshire pudding?

Think creatively

Key calendar moments enable brands to pivot from their every day promotional key messages and target-based content campaigns, empowering them to get creative and employ techniques that may not otherwise fit within their traditional toolbox of tactics. Christmas for example, presents a unique opportunity for brands to connect with consumers on a more personal level, projecting a personable, heart-warming and relatable persona, which in turn forges greater trust and connection.
But brilliance doesn’t have to be expensive as we learnt recently, with Coinbase, whose ludicrously simple but effective advertisement of a QR code went viral in 2022 during the Super Bowl. Animation, like Coinbase’s example, can be an effective creative tactic and as a purely visual medium, also bring great ‘stickability’ with our brains able to retain visual information far faster than traditional words, leaving a lasting impact on your audience. Our brains have moving picture superiorly and viewers retain 95% of a message when ingested via video, contrasted strongly with just 10% when read.4 But what’s more, we also retain the information far more quickly, 60,000 times more in fact.5

A simple but effective example can be seen in Primark’s Halloween campaign in partnership with 90 Seconds which uses 2D animation in a short but quirky and cute feature to wish their customers a Happy Halloween. Short, sweet and of course, spooky.

Think culturally appropriate

Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Eid-al-Fitr, Chinese New Year – it’s more important than ever before to be inclusive. If your brand is a global one, then attention needs to be directed to ensure you’re marking the relevant holidays globally – holidays that are celebrated in the markets you have a presence in. And in today’s multicultural world, there can be many.

Avoid common pitfalls such as the use of the word ‘summer’ in the wrong hemisphere, or the term ‘Fall’ when communicating outside of North America. If producing a ‘one size fits all’ holiday campaign for use globally then think very carefully about the scene you are depicting. If it’s Christmas for example, one half of the year may be in a wintery wonderland, but the other half are lying on a beach. Stick to the safer option – the moments that are ubiquitously Christmas for us all: food, family and spending time together. Halloween isn’t celebrated everywhere, in fact in some communities, such as the Orthodox Jewish, embracing and rolling out a Halloween-themed campaign in this region can not only be out of touch, but offensive. Thanksgiving in North America is celebrated on two different days: a Thursday in November for the Americans, and on an October Monday for the Canadians.

It might sound simple but all too often we see brands and businesses fall at this relatively simple hurdle. Global brands must reflect and translate locally. Which brings us on to our next point.

Engage locally

Creating content at a local level can prove invaluable and help ensure your campaigns hit the desired mark. 90 Seconds model is based on this hyperlocal model premise – using local crews and talent from a database of almost 14,000 creators.

We’ve produced over 40,000 videos for some of the world’s biggest brands, shooting in 900 cities around the world. By working at a local level, with talent and infrastructure, you’re not only ensuring content is produced sustainably (all the more important in today’s world), but the end result is quality content with input and insights that one wouldn’t get if produced centrally.

By producing content at a hyperlocal level, you’re bringing more benefit to your content than simply those of an environmental and cost-saving nature; you’re also producing content that is going to cut through the masses and resonate deeply with a localised audience. Local talent understands the intricacies of cultural nuances and the complexities involved. Rather than ending up with a ‘one size fits all’ global holiday campaign, with the only nod to the region being subtitled captions in local language, you’re creating a piece of genuine and authentic content that is going to connect on a fundamental level with the audiences you’re trying to engage.

It’s no longer enough to just translate and caption video, or show a few ‘local’ faces by way of a tokenistic gesture toward inclusion. Content creation has to be genuine. Brands must go above and beyond a simple translation and caption job, but look closely at what resonates and connects to a local audience. Instead, for example, brands should focus on what we refer to as ‘transcreation’ – the process of adapting content from one language to another, while maintaining the existing tone, intent and style. While translation can be perfectly fine for informative text, when copy is designed to trigger an action from the reader – as holiday campaigns nearly always are – transcreation is a far better and more effective solution.6

But be warned, this isn’t necessarily easy and it can sometimes be best to leave it to the experts (if we do say so ourselves). This may often encompass a complete reimagining of copy content so that it better resonates with a specific culture, taking into account copy length and style. Many languages are much longer than English, or one may lack specific vocabulary over another7 for example. Even the most award-winning content can turn into utter drivel when directly translated to another language with repetitive or awkward wording, miscomprehension or incorrect syntax. For scaling global content at a hyperlocal level, transcreating copy is worth every effort and for best effect, consider rewriting altogether locally in short, crisp language.8

Spend money to make money

Given the surge in customer searches and demand to appear on that all-important first page of Google search results, during the holiday season, it can sometimes pay dividends to… well… pay dividends and invest in additional promotional expenditure.

In 2020, across the Black Friday holiday season (November – December), ecommerce web traffic grew a staggering 207% YOY compared with 2019.9 That’s a market share brands don’t want to miss out on and while at 90 Seconds, we would argue that creativity and authenticity powers content far more than boosted placement, during times of heightened opportunity, that extra investment can prove invaluable. Sponsored advertisements on web pages or boosted posts, as well as shoppable ads across social provide strong ROI and with heightened competition during key calendar moments, it’s money well spent to ensure your content stands out from your competitors.

But if budgets don’t stretch to additional promotional investment, make the most of your own platforms – specifically your homepage. Many brands often overlook this goldmine, but the simple fact is that video is an SEO powerhouse, strongly preferred and favoured by search engines. Brands and businesses that include just one video on their homepage are 53 times more likely to rank on Google’s first page of search results10 and in turn, this uptick in search ranking enables websites to attract 157% more traffic according to Wix and Wordstream, boosting conversion rates by approximately 80%.

Don’t miss the mark

Finally, ensure your campaign has you remembered for the right reasons by playing close attention to social commentary and the news agenda and ensuring your content reflects these all-important nuances.

Think carefully about timing. If you’re a food or beverage business, rolling out a huge campaign around your food selection is going to feel a little out of touch if timed with Ramadan. Or with a cost-of-living crisis upon our doors and the world facing economic hardship with record-high inflation, luxury Christmas campaigns focused on high material spend or jolly campaigns may seem inappropriate. Instead, carefully consider the wider agenda and when in doubt, opt for something heartfelt and meaningful with people at its very centre. Like IHG Singapore’s ‘Celebrate Love’ campaign, produced in partnership with 90 Seconds, which focuses on those joyous Christmas morning moments, spent with our nearest and dearest.

IHG do this particularly well through focusing their holiday campaigns on the moments that matter, rather than the material experience as illustrated once more in their Chinese New Year content campaign.

Another example can be seen by a major retailer Primark. Acknowledging the dichotomy between sustainability and consumerism, Primark marked the Easter holiday in this unique and, rather exceptional, video which showcased the different ways of using Primark’s ubiquitous brown paper bag to celebrate Easter. In their campaign, titled The Mighty Paper Bag, Primark not only ensures messages highlighting their recyclable packaging are brought to the fore, they also bring value to their family-based customer unit by sharing four craft-based uses for their bags. Artfully – and craft-fully – done and not a whiff of consumerism in sight.

With customer demand in overdrive, investing in the development of effective video content and strategic advertising during holiday periods or key calendar moments, like Summer Sales or Black Friday, will reap benefits that can sustain a business throughout the year. If done correctly, businesses not only see a surge in traffic and revenue, but build greater brand awareness and harness a semblance of trust that ultimately, sees them snap up market share and take a bigger piece of the pie. Whether that be of the mince or pumpkin variety.

  1. What is Holiday Marketing: Definition, Tips – Definition | SendPulse
  2. How much do we spend at Christmas? | Bank of England
  3. 55% of Consumers Watch Videos Before Making a Purchase –
  4. How To Incorporate Video Into Your Social Media Strategy (
  5. Humans Process Visual Data Better | Thermopylae Sciences + Technology (
  6. Message from Smartling
  7. 10 Words that Don’t Exist in English | International House (
  8. Cross-cultural Marketing | Textappeal
  9. Holiday Season Report 2020—Data From 1.57 Billion Web Visits (
  10. How Videos Can Boost the Average Time Spent on Your Website – Wistia Blog