The Power of Holiday Marketing (and not just at Christmas!)

Every year as festive seasons approach, consumers all over the world are flooded with a frenzy of marketing campaigns by brands looking to get a slice of the multi-billion dollar holiday shopping pie.

At the heart of the annual holiday marketing procession are the powerful Christmas ads. From Cadbury’s play on the “Secret Santa” ritual backed by an emotive soundtrack, to Heathrow airport’s adorable portrayal of an elderly bear couple coming home to celebrate with their family, brands are creating authentic association with consumers by showing them how a product or service can bring them closer to the people they love.

For giants like Coca-Cola, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer, this is now an annual tradition and year after year, consumers wait with bated breath to see the campaigns launched by these iconic brands. In fact, there is so much frenzy around Christmas ads, that every year, thousands of Twitter users mistakenly reach out to a U.S. based science lecturer John Lewis instead of the British departmental store by the same name. Twitter released a cheeky film around this last year showing Lewis painstakingly responding to the messages and giving us all some laughs.

But there’s a reason aside from emotional responses for these ads. Research has shown that consumers are inclined to spend more during festive periods (blame it on the holiday cheer!) and this presents a prime opportunity for brands to boost sales by capitalising on the increased purchasing power. Brands spend considerable time, money and resources to develop creative campaigns that cut through the clutter and grab consumer attention. But do these ads work?

The short answer is yes, they do. The festive air is rife with nostalgia, and ads with an emotional overtone strike a chord with consumers. This aids in customers forming deeper associations with brands –improving brand awareness and perception, and increasing consumers’ likelihood to purchase.

In terms of business results, well-executed campaigns that are emotionally engaging, and relevant to the occasion – with a clear association to the company’s product or service – do well. In terms of brand engagement and, more importantly, in terms of sales – Tesco, as an example, saw a 2.2% rise in UK sales following their successful 2018 Christmas ad.

Closer to home, Chinese New Year is one the biggest annual celebrations, and this year’s Singtel ad adopted a family-focused narrative that showed three young ‘CNY absconders’ who fly to Australia to avoid the traditions of Lunar New Year celebrations. Their joy at escaping their family during this festive time quickly turns to nostalgia, when one of them discovers a letter from her mother in her suitcase amidst clothes and jars full of homemade snacks.

While some brands tell powerful fictional stories, Indian jewellery brand Tanishq’sDiwali ad took viewers into the home of a leading film actress to show her family celebrating the festival in a simple manner – cleaning the house, making sweets and untangling lights. In a country where film actors are practically worshipped, the depiction of a mega star being grounded in her roots and celebrating the country’s biggest festival with family and simple traditions struck all the right chords.

As more brands jump onto the holiday marketing bandwagon, this is not just limited to mainstream celebrations anymore. Almost every major calendar event sees marketers creating specifically tailored campaigns, such as this Mother’s Day ad by Boots and Budweiser’s decision to remake old ads for International Women’s Day. A Valentine’s Day ad by Borosil India took a non-traditional approach to the day of love by featuring a young couple celebrating their first ever V-Day following the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India – another beautiful ad that celebrates a holiday as well as a cultural moment.

So, what makes a good holiday campaign? From animation and celebrity endorsement to good ol’ storytelling, brands are embracing different strategies for their year-round holiday marketing.

The key is simple: take basic human insight that is aligned with the brand’s core values and peg it to a relevant event to create an authentic association with the celebration.

Getting this formula right will not only bring immediate results in terms of engagement and sales, but the benefits of an effective campaign will extend long beyond the holiday itself, building a stronger brand identity and influencing purchase decisions in the long run.

#MutantsTakePhuket: Team Retreat to Phuket!

Sometimes you’ve got to say ‘Phuket, let’s go to Phuket’ 😉

A private villa, a schedule of exciting team challenges, and heaps of Thai food – us Mutants were whisked away to Phuket this February for our annual Mutant Offsite. Yep, we’re lucky enough that for three days every year, our entire team heads out of Singapore for a teambuilding experience like no other. And after a rather big and busy 2018, we wanted to kick off this year with a bang. Phuket seemed to be the obvious choice for a company retreat.

After an hour’s ride from the airport, we arrived at our accommodation near the peaceful Nai Harn Beach, seemingly a world away from the usual Patong haunts.

  
This tucked-away bungalow villa can house up to 32 guests, and has two swimming pools! | Photo by: Sreya Sanyal

Work first, then pool time? Thai and stop us… | Photo by: Ian Lee


The view from one of the rooms in the villa. | Photo by: Yeo Sze-G


A living space with an abundance of plants is definitely #goals. | Photo by: Claire Choo

Shark Tank (minus Kevin O’Leary)

After everyone settled in (and dried off from a dip in the pool with a gigantic blow-up rainbow unicorn), we were given our first task of the trip – after all, what’s a team retreat without some mind-boggling team challenges?


Our CEO, Joe, recapping company performance in 2018 before the mini challenge began | Photo: Yeo Sze-G

After being split into teams, the challenge was to choose an item that could be found in the villa and pitch it, with just 15 minutes’ prep time. We had to come up with a name for our product, its target audience, a tagline, and an elevator pitch to a bunch of ‘investors’ (our bosses). From a vertical garden to the humble toilet roll, the exercise was all about being bold and thinking out of the box.


Team Towel-In-Oneturned an ordinary orange beach towel a convertible garment. | Photo: Rebecca Lewis

Team Lifeline: The winners for our first challenge made toilet paper a must-have accessory! | Photo: Rebecca Lewis

The winner from the first challenge was Team ‘Lifeline’, who pitched customisable toilet roll. It was a close call between teams, but their creativity, humour and solid pitching skills ultimately won the challenge.

“It was great getting to know more about my colleagues outside an office setting, and it was also refreshing teaming up with people I don’t usually work with during the challenges,” said Alyson, our Senior Account Executive.

Mutant’s Storytelling Challenge

The second day in Phuket was all about storytelling, and an exercise that focused on creating visual narratives for a specific audience. We were again split into teams, and then tasked with finding an underrated place in Phuket, travelling there, scripting a video and then editing a two-minute piece to present to everyone – all in about 5 hours’ time! Talk about meeting tough deadlines…

  1. Getting a Thai massage fix


Photos: Alyson Tay, Bethany Bloch, Ian Lee, Tina Sales

Our first team explored the world of Thai massage on the island. Profiling a pop-up stall on the beach and a massage studio in a strip mall, they taught us all about the art of benefits of a traditional Thai massage and emphasised that you don’t need to go to a ritzy resort for a high-quality experience.

  1. Exploring a living museum


Photos: Kent Toh, Richa Shah, Yeo Sze-G

With team member Kent as the main lead in their video, Team 2 headed to Baan Chinpracha Museumin Old Phuket Town, and told us the history of Chinese culture in Phuket through the rustic imagery of a 100-year-old house that was built by a wealthy Chinese family in the early 1900s.

  1. Being #Basic


Photos: Ivan Tan, Priscillia Chun, Sreya Sanyal

Team 3 gave us the ultimate guide to having some #summertimegladness on the streets of Old Phuket Town. They showed us where we could go to live our best Instagram life by introducing trendy clothing stores and the coolest cafés in the area.

  1. Patong by day


Photos: Claire Choo, Rhea Arora

Reporting from the sands of the most (in)famous nightlife hotspot in Phuket, Team 4 demonstrated why the area is worth a daytime visit, highlighting where to eat, shop and play.

“This challenge was all about emphasising the soft skills required for collaborative storytelling and meshing different perspectives and angles into a coherent narrative. Some of us are lifestyle-y sorts while others are corporate-y data people, so emotive storytellers and data storytellers were able to come together to create these videos,” said Ian, our Account Manager.

Putting the “treat” in “retreat”


While some of us had fun in the sun… | Photos: Alyson Tay, Ian Lee

…others experienced a bit of discomfort. But the good kind – who doesn’t love a good
Thai massage? | Photos: Alyson Tay, Ian Lee

After all the brainstorming and sun exposure, we made sure to unwind the best way we know how: with good, local food. Nai Harn still retains its quiet charm with only a few hotels and villas in the area, and authentic local restaurants dot the shore.


We made sure not to miss out on the classic pineapple fried rice! | Photo: Yeo Sze-G


Our outdoor dinner setting on the last night | Photo: Bethany Bloch


It was a feast! | Photo: Alyson Tay

We had a great time bonding over delicious food, fun challenges and convenience store snack and beverage runs. Sometimes, to relieve stress from hectic work schedules and deadlines, you just need to get everyone out of the office to relax and have fun!

A 360 team photo at Nai Harn Beach | Photo: Ian Lee

“It was time well spent. We don’t only work hard, but we play hard, too,” said Kent, our Business Development Executive.

Refreshed and reinvigorated, we Mutants are back in the office – though perhaps daydreaming every now and then about green curry in our bellies and sand between our toes.

Want to know about the other cool stuff we do while having fun? Contact us at hello@mutant.com.sg.