Holiday Ad Spends

Part
01
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Part
01

Cyber Monday Ad Spend 2

The next five brands in terms of advertising spend during the cyber monday shopping season include; Kohls's, Macy's, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Old Navy. Details have been included in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and an overview of our findings.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

According to Chain Store Age, which cited a report by Kantar Media, the top brands advertising in the 2018 Cyber monday advertising season--and the consistent top ad spends in previous years--were Walmart at $63 million and Target at $60 million, with Amazon trailing behind. This led us to Kantar Media's site, which provided the following data on national television advertising spends among the top ten brands.
Walmart $63 million -32%
Target $60 million -19%
Kay Jewelers $40 million 14%
Amazon $35 million 290%
JC Penney $34 million -11%
Kohl’s $33 million -9%
Macy’s $30 million -9%
Home Depot $29 million -2%
Lowe’s $28 million -1%
Old Navy $21 million 15%
Note that Amazon nearly tripled its spend this year, which means bumped it into 4th place. 
The chart above only provided our team with television advertising budgets. Since television advertising is the most expensive and yet boasts the highest ROI of any channel, we could be certain that the brands with the highest television ad spend would also be the brands with the highest ad spend overall, but since the request criteria is for overall ad spend, we continued our research.
Unfortunately, Kantar lacked the data we needed, providing lists of "top retail advertisers by paid search clicks" for both product listing and text ads (and by device type), but not the ad spend. Attempts to locate the total online ad spend for Cyber monday 2018 via marketing firm white papers or business media sources (e.g., Forbes, Fortune, Inc. Magazine), which might have let us triangulate the online ad spend for the top companies, were to no avail.
Therefore, we changed tactics. Since the top television spends belonged to publicly-traded companies, we studied their annual and quarterly financial reports to find out how much detail they included about their advertising budgets. This proved insufficient for our purposes.

TRIANGULATING TOTAL AD SPEND

Finally, we found a data point that would enable us to at least triangulate the total ad spend for each of the top brands: In 2017, the top ten retailers spent an average of 62% of their holiday ad budgets on television, with the remainder distributed among digital, print, radio, and other. While this obviously wouldn't hold true in all cases in 2018--especially with Amazon's incredible surge in TV ad spend--for most of our brands, it would let us roughly calculate their total ad spend as follows (and rounded to the nearest million):
6 Kohls- $20 million ($33 million / 0.62)
7 Macy's -$19 million ($30 million / 0.62)
8 Home Depot - $18 million ($29 million / 0.62)
9 Lowe's- $17million ($28 million / 0.62)
10 Old Navy - $13 million ($21 million / 0.62)
While we admit that this is, at best, a rough calculation based on several assumptions, given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible. We have provided all the required information in the attached spreadsheet.

Part
02
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Part
02

Cyber Monday Ad Spend 1

Although there was limited information in the public domain, we have used the provided data from Kantar media and the average breakdown of total advertising budgets during the holiday season to triangulate that Walmart, Target, Kay Jewelers, Amazon, and JC Penny were the top brands in terms of their advertising spend on Cyber monday. Details have been included in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and an overview of our findings.
AD SPEND METHODOLOGY
According to a report by Kantar Media, the top brands advertising in the 2018 Cyber Monday holiday season and the consistent top ad spends in previous years were Walmart at $63 million, Target at $60 million, and Kay Jewelers at $40 million. Below are the national television advertising spends on cyber monday among the top ten brands.
 Retailer 2018 Spend % Change YoY
Walmart $63 million -32%
Target $60 million -19%
Kay Jewelers $40 million 14%
Amazon $35 million 290%
JC Penney $34 million -11%
Kohl’s $33 million -9%
Macy’s $30 million -9%
Home Depot $29 million -2%
Lowe’s $28 million -1%
Old Navy $21 million 15%
Of course, this gives us only the television advertising budgets for cyber monday. Since television advertising is the most expensive and yet boasts the highest ROI of any channel, we could be certain that the brands with the highest television ad spend would also be the brands with the highest ad spend overall, but since the request criteria is for overall ad spend, we continued our research.
Sadly, Kantar lacked the details we needed, providing lists of "top retail advertisers by paid search clicks" for both product listing and text ads (and by device type), but not the ad spend. Efforts to find the total online ad spend for Cyber Monday 2018 via marketing firm white papers or business media sources (e.g., Forbes, Fortune, Inc. Magazine), which might have let us triangulate the online ad spend for the top companies, were to no avail.
We then changed our approach, since the top television spends belonged to publicly-traded companies, we studied their annual and quarterly financial reports to find out how much detail they included in terms their advertising budgets. This proved insufficient for our purposes. For instance, Walmart states only that, "Advertising costs were $3.1 billion, $2.9 billion and $2.5 billion for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively," but does not provide a breakdown by channel. In fact, their quarterly reports contained no data on their advertising spend at all, meaning that we could not even narrow down their advertising spend to the 2018 holiday season, let alone to their Cyber monday campaign. The other top contenders provided similarly low levels of detail about their advertising budgets; in fact, some have not yet released their 2018 financials, further compounding the problem.

TRIANGULATING TOTAL AD SPEND

Finally, we found a data point which would enable us to at least triangulate the Cyber monday ad spend for each of the top brands: In 2017, the top ten retailers spent an average of 62% of their holiday ad budgets on television, with the remainder distributed among digital, print, radio, and other. While this obviously wouldn't hold true in all cases in 2018--especially with Amazon's incredible surge in TV ad spend--for most of our brands,therefore using the amount
it would let us roughly calculate their total ad spend on cyber monday as follows
1 Walmart - $101.6 million ($63 million / 0.62)
2 Target - $96.8 million ($60 million / 0.62)
3 Kay Jewelers - $64.5 million ($40 million / 0.62)
4 Amazon - $56.5 million ($35 million / 0.62)
5 JC Penney - $54.8 million ($34 million / 0.62)
While we admit that this is, at best, a rough calculation based on several assumptions, given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible. We have provided all the required information in the attached spreadsheet.
Part
03
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Part
03

Christmas Ad Spend 2

Kohl's, Home Depot, Best Buy, Kay's Jewelers, and Lowe's are the next top five brands in terms of advertising spend during the Christmas shopping season. Details have been included in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and an overview of our findings.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

We began our research by looking for 2018 advertising statistics for the Christmas period, however, we were only able to find reports providing information up until mid-December 2018. We did however find a completed report, published in 2018, with detailed information regarding the 2017 winter holiday period. According to Kantar Media, the next top five brands, based on advertising spend, during the 2017 Winter Holiday period were;

The advertising spending above however is for the entire holiday period. However, the report also provided a breakdown of the spending into the three weeks preceding Thanksgiving week (Oct 30-Nov 19), the week of Thanksgiving (including the Black Friday weekend of Nov 20-26), and the 5 weeks culminating with New Year’s weekend (Nov 27-Dec 31). While Christmas advertising may begin before Thanksgiving and Black Friday, we have made the assumption that the majority of the Christmas advertisement spending would be between November 27 and December 31st. Unfortunately the report only broke down the percentage of spending for Kohl's during this period, however it did provide the percentage for all retailers, which was 55%. We have used this percentage to determine what the retailers spent during the period of November 27 and December 31st.



Kohl's — $107,000,000 * 55% = $58,850,000
Home Depot — $82,000,000 * 55% =$45,100,000
Best Buy — $78,000,000 * 55% = $42,900,000
Kay Jewelers — $72,000,000 * 55% = $39,600,000
Lowe's — $66,000,000 * 55% = $36,300,000

As the advertising campaigns of the major retailers can vary over the Christmas period, we have highlighted the most prominent campaigns based on the reaction they received.
While we admit that this is, at best, a rough calculation based on several assumptions, but given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible. We have provided all the required information in the CHRISTMAS tab of the attached spreadsheet in rows 7-11.
Part
04
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Part
04

Christmas Ad Spend 1

Walmart, Amazon, Target, Macy's, and JC Penney are the top five brands in terms of advertising spend during the Christmas shopping season. Details have been included in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and an overview of our findings.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

We began our research by looking for 2018 advertising statistics for the Christmas period, however, we were only able to find reports providing information up until mid-December 2018. We did however find a completed report, published in 2018, with detailed information regarding the 2017 winter holiday period. According to Kantar Media, the top brands advertising in the 2017 holiday period advertising season the top five brands were;

The advertising spending above however is for the entire holiday period. However, the report also provided a breakdown of the spending into the three weeks preceding Thanksgiving week (Oct 30-Nov 19), the week of Thanksgiving (including the Black Friday weekend of Nov 20-26), and the 5 weeks culminating with New Year’s weekend (Nov 27-Dec 31). While Christmas advertising may begin before Thanksgiving and Black Friday, we have made the assumption that the majority of the Christmas advertisement spending would be between November 27 and December 31st. Below is a breakdown of the spending by the top five retailers.


We used these percentages to determine which retailers spent the most on advertising during the period of November 27 and December 31st.

Walmart — $239,000,000 * 54% = $129,060,000
Amazon — $172,000,000 * 73% =$125,560,000
Target — $167,000,000 * 47% = $78,490,000
Macy’s — $132,000,000 * 59% = $77,880,000
JC Penney — $110,000,000 * 53% = $58,300,000

As the advertising campaigns of the major retailers can vary over the Christmas period, we have highlighted the most prominent campaigns based on the reaction they received.
While we admit that this is, at best, a rough calculation based on several assumptions, but given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible. We have provided all the required information in the CHRISTMAS tab of the attached spreadsheet in rows 2-6.
Part
05
of thirteen
Part
05

Black Friday Ad Spend 2

Kohls's, Macy's, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Old Navy are the next five brands in terms of advertising spend during the black friday shopping season. Details have been included in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and an overview of our findings.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

According to Chain Store Age, which cited a report by Kantar Media, the top brands advertising in the 2018 Black Friday advertising season--and the consistent top ad spends in previous years--were Walmart at $63 million and Target at $60 million, with Amazon trailing behind. This led us to Kantar Media's site, which provided the following data on national television advertising spends among the top ten brands.

Walmart $63 million -32%
Target $60 million -19%
Kay Jewelers $40 million 14%
Amazon $35 million 290%
JC Penney $34 million -11%
Kohl’s $33 million -9%
Macy’s $30 million -9%
Home Depot $29 million -2%
Lowe’s $28 million -1%
Old Navy $21 million 15%

Note that Amazon nearly tripled its spend this year, which means bumped it into 4th place.

The chart above only provided our team with television advertising budgets. Since television advertising is the most expensive and yet boasts the highest ROI of any channel, we could be certain that the brands with the highest television ad spend would also be the brands with the highest ad spend overall, but since the request criteria is for overall ad spend, we continued our research.

Unfortunately, Kantar lacked the data we needed, providing lists of "top retail advertisers by paid search clicks" for both product listing and text ads (and by device type), but not the ad spend. Attempts to locate the total online ad spend for Black Friday 2018 via marketing firm white papers or business media sources (e.g., Forbes, Fortune, Inc. Magazine), which might have let us triangulate the online ad spend for the top companies, were to no avail.

Therefore, we changed tactics. Since the top television spends belonged to publicly-traded companies, we studied their annual and quarterly financial reports to find out how much detail they included about their advertising budgets. This proved insufficient for our purposes.

TRIANGULATING TOTAL AD SPEND

Finally, we found a data point that would enable us to at least triangulate the total Black Friday ad spend for each of the top brands: In 2017, the top ten retailers spent an average of 62% of their holiday ad budgets on television, with the remainder distributed among digital, print, radio, and other. While this obviously wouldn't hold true in all cases in 2018--especially with Amazon's incredible surge in TV ad spend--for most of our brands, it would let us roughly calculate their total ad spend as follows (and rounded to the nearest million):

6 Kohls- $20 million ($33 million / 0.62)
7 Macy's -$19 million ($30 million / 0.62)
8 Home Depot - $18 million ($29 million / 0.62)
9 Lowe's- $17million ($28 million / 0.62)
10 Old Navy - $13 million ($21 million / 0.62)

While we admit that this is, at best, a rough calculation based on several assumptions, given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible.
Part
06
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Part
06

Black Friday Ad Spend 1

Based on the known Black Friday television advertising spend of the top ten brands and the average breakdown of total advertising budgets during the holiday season, we triangulate that Walmart, Target, Kay Jewelers, Amazon, and JC Penny were the top brands in terms of their advertising spend. Details have been included in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and an overview of our findings.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

According to Chain Store Age, which cited a report by Kantar Media, the top brands advertising in the 2018 Black Friday advertising season--and the consistent top ad spends in previous years--were Walmart at $63 million and Target at $60 million, with Amazon trailing behind. This led us to Kantar Media's site, which provided the following data on national television advertising spends among the top ten brands (please pardon any formatting issues in the following chart):
Walmart $63 million -32%
Target $60 million -19%
Kay Jewelers $40 million 14%
Amazon $35 million 290%
JC Penney $34 million -11%
Kohl’s $33 million -9%
Macy’s $30 million -9%
Home Depot $29 million -2%
Lowe’s $28 million -1%
Old Navy $21 million 15%
Note that Amazon nearly tripled its spend this year, which means that it would not appear in the top five (or even top ten) in previous years, which would have given Kohl's the fifth-place mark in 2017 and, possibly, before.

Of course, this gives us only the television advertising budgets. Since television advertising is the most expensive and yet boasts the highest ROI of any channel, we could be certain that the brands with the highest television ad spend would also be the brands with the highest ad spend overall, but since the request criteria is for overall ad spend, we continued our research.

Unfortunately, Kantar lacked the data we needed, providing lists of "top retail advertisers by paid search clicks" for both product listing and text ads (and by device type), but not the ad spend. Attempts to locate the total online ad spend for Black Friday 2018 via marketing firm white papers or business media sources (e.g., Forbes, Fortune, Inc. Magazine), which might have let us triangulate the online ad spend for the top companies, were to no avail.

Therefore, we changed tactics. Since the top television spends belonged to publicly-traded companies, we studied their annual and quarterly financial reports to find out how much detail they included about their advertising budgets. This proved insufficient for our purposes.

For example, Walmart states only that, "Advertising costs were $3.1 billion, $2.9 billion and $2.5 billion for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively," but does not provide a breakdown by channel. In fact, their quarterly reports contained no data on their advertising spend at all, meaning that we could not even narrow down their advertising spend to the 2018 holiday season, let alone to their Black Friday campaign. The other top contenders provided similarly low levels of detail about their advertising budgets; in fact, some have not yet released their 2018 financials, further compounding the problem.

TRIANGULATING TOTAL AD SPEND

Finally, we found a data point which would enable us to at least triangulate the total Black Friday ad spend for each of the top brands: In 2017, the top ten retailers spent an average of 62% of their holiday ad budgets on television, with the remainder distributed among digital, print, radio, and other. While this obviously wouldn't hold true in all cases in 2018--especially with Amazon's incredible surge in TV ad spend--for most of our brands, it would let us roughly calculate their total ad spend as follows (and rounded to the nearest million):
1 Walmart - $100 million ($63 million / 0.62)
2 Target - $95 million ($60 million / 0.62)
3 Kay Jewelers - $63 million ($40 million / 0.62)
4 Amazon - $56 million ($35 million / 0.62)
5 JC Penney - $54 million ($34 million / 0.62)
While we admit that this is, at best, a rough calculation based on several assumptions, given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible.

COMPANY AND HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN OVERVIEWS

WALMART
Walmart is an international retail chain which has over 11,700 stores in 28 countries, offering a diverse range of goods, from clothing to housewares to groceries. In addition to selling numerous other brands, Walmart markets its own lines of private-label store brands, e.g., Adventure Force, Ozark Trail, and Sam's Choice. Due to the diversity of its product lines, it is difficult to discern a particular advertising campaign. However, several marketers noted Walmart's "Light Up Christmas" TV ad campaign, which highlighted "more traditional ideas of children’s gifts: toys over touchscreens."
TARGET
Target is a big box retailer with over 1,800 stores, which they prefer to think of as "inspiring showrooms and neighborhood fulfillment centers." Since 2017, they have focused on updating the physical appearance of their storefronts and "blending the best" of their "digital and physical shopping experiences." Despite this claimed desire to modernize, their 2018 holiday ad has a very retro feel, showing an (admittedly multicultural) American family dressed in matching holiday clothes and kids playing with mostly classic toys such as Legos. The sole nod to modern life is the presence of a Nintendo Switch.
KAY JEWELERS
Kay Jewelers is a jewelry and store brand owned by Signet Jewelers, the self-proclaimed "world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry." Their 2018 holiday ad, "Long Live Love," features a young couple facing the chaos of a Christmas with the extended family. The couple retreats to the privacy of the porch despite the snow, where the man gives the woman a diamond necklace, prompting her to embrace him.
AMAZON
Amazon is well-known as an online retailer, originally starting with books, but since 2015, the majority of their sales have been third-party retailers using them as an online marketplace. Even so, Amazon's first-party sales remain impressive, totaling $117 billion in 2018. Amazon's 2018 holiday ad campaign, "Can You Feel It," featured singing Amazon boxes (i.e., animating Amazon's signature smile logo). As described by AdWeek, "The whimsical touches feature a cast that interacts with more of Amazon’s world—like Alexa, Amazon lockers and warehouse robots—and fully embraces the spirit of the holiday season."
JC PENNY
JC Penney is the principle brand of the holding company of the same name, operating 864 department stores across the US and Puerto Rico which sell apparel, home goods, toys, and accessories. Their 2018 holiday ad shows shoppers buying gifts for family and friends, with the lead actress describing how much her mother loved the pots and pans she bought for her last year before asking several other shoppers if they thought it was better to give or receive. She then offers those shoppers a free gift, to their delight.
The ad would have been unremarkable except for an amusing bit of superfluity: Former Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre happened to be shopping in the store when the ad was being shot, and ended up taking part in the spot. It's not certain that the film crew even realized who he was at the time.

CONCLUSION

Except for Amazon's, the 2018 holiday advertising campaigns for these brands were all very traditional and workmanlike despite the amount of money spent on them. Indeed, while television still dominates, there is a general shift away from TV ads and towards digital marketing as time goes on; whether this, or simply the desire to evoke nostalgia, is responsible for the nature of the ads is not known publicly. In any case, as requested, the estimates of each company's Black Friday advertising budget and the nature of their campaigns have been entered into the project spreadsheet.

Part
07
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Part
07

Labor Day Ad Spend 3

The next five top five retailers in terms of ad spend during the Labor Day holiday include Target, Old Navy, Staples, JCPenney, and Walmart. In our search for the next five retail brands in terms of advertising spend during the Labor Day shopping season, implemented a myriad of search tactics that resulted in us getting a half answer: we got retail brands and got an idea of the money they spent during the Labor Day holiday weekend, however, the ads were mostly geared towards back-to-school and the money we calculated was actually not just for Labor Day weekend, but lasted from August 28th to October 1st. However, we decided to include them because, from our searches, it seems that these retail companies focused more on back-to-school campaigns. We discuss our strategies in trying to find this information, lay out all calculations, and summarize our findings below. We have also placed our full findings into the attached spreadsheet.

METHODOLOGY

In trying to find ad campaigns for retail companies that featured in the Labor Day shopping season, we first did a straightforward search for lists of the top ad spends on Labor Day. We also filtered our results to 2018 so that we could get the most recent results. However, we realized that many of the sources we found were already in the spreadsheet, and we couldn't find any more retail companies this way, even when we removed the 'year' filter. There was one exception, where we found a story about Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad campaign that was launched near Labor Day weekend. However, our search to prove that Nike was a top retailer in terms of ad spend around Labor Day weekend 2018 was futile, and we realized that if we had continued, it would take a very long time to search for other top companies this way. Hence, we had to change strategy.

Our next strategy was to look for fact sheets as it relates to labor day spends. Many fact sheets are on PDFs, so we looked through news sources and filtered for PDFs as well. We found some fact sheets that talked generally about ad spends, but nothing specific about specific companies and how much they spent. We did notice interesting trends in these fact sheets speaking of predictions; hence, we thought to look for predictions into ad spending for Labor Day 2019. We thought that the publisher of the predictions would have to contextualize them, which often means talking about past trends, such as certain companies increasing their ad spending year-over-year. However, this search proved futile as well, so we changed strategies.

Our next strategy was to look through ad campaign databases such as iSpot.tv, Kantar Media, Moat, and Ad Age. What we found was that even though iSpot and Moat showed ads that ran during the Labor Day holiday, they didn't have much context to them, and we found ourselves searching each company individually for ad spend, which was very inefficient. Also, Ad Age brought up many news stories that did not show anything about ad spend by different companies. However, Kantar was different, as we found a report about Wayfair and other furniture retailers spending text ad money on Labor Day. Because of this, we spent more time digging through Kantar for a better report that focused on all retailers, not just on furniture retailers. We did not have any luck with this search, but we got a lead when we started searching for "September" results instead of just "Labor Day", which showed some articles and reports about back-to-school spending among retailers. In one article, we found a list of retailers that spent big during the period of August 28th to October 1st, which naturally includes the Labor Day weekend. We declined at first to use it, especially because it was from 2017, but after repeating steps, using different strings and filters, we were still coming up empty-handed. Also, we didn't find a similar study from Kantar in 2018. We thought this back-to-school report would be better to use than the furniture retailer report, so we answered this request based on what we found here.

On on graph, the report displayed how much each retailer spent in percentages based on time periods and showed how much each spent monetarily on back-to-school ads on another chart. We used this to calculate how much they spent for the August 28 to October 1 time period, which includes the Labor Day shopping season. We discuss more of our assumptions below. The article we found focused mainly on back-to-school ad spend, but because we realized that these retailers focus more on back-to-school at this time of the year, these numbers should represent a somewhat true representation of what they spent over the Labor Day holiday.

CALCULATIONS AND ASSUMPTIONS

Staples spent 35% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $17.7 M * 35% = approx. $6.2 M.
Old Navy spent 30% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $21.1 M * 30% = approx. $6.33 M.
Target spent 20% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $38.4 M * 20% = approx. $7.68 M.
JCPenney spent 10% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $21.3 M * 10% = approx. $2.13 M.
Walmart spent 8% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $35.9 M * 8% = approx. $3.07 M.

We believe that these numbers give an idea of what the spend for the Labor Day holiday was for a variety of reasons. First, the period on the graph we looked at in the report started on August 28, a few days before the Labor Day weekend. Second, Labor Day is a strong federal holiday, and since there is no work and no school, but students are still getting ready or in the process of going back to school, it would make sense to spend the most money during that weekend. Finally, according to the "BTS Ad Spend 2016 vs 2017" chart in the report, spending was high around August 28 and dipped even more after the 4th of September, which was Labor Day. However, it still must be noted that we are only doing the best we could based on the data that we found, and should only be interpreted as an idea of how these retailers spent their money during the weekend. More details such as spend on other campaigns other than back-to-school could not be found, and we believe that paid reports on Kantar and elsewhere may have this information.

INTERESTING INFORMATION

  • Retailers focus more on back-to-school ads, especially during the Labor Day shopping season, as the market is worth around $75.8 billion and growing every year. Also, the back-to-school shopping season continues up until the beginning of September, which is around the time of Labor Day.
  • Target's "Ready.Set.Prep!" ad campaign had 'punny' phrases that were made to catch the attention of students, such as "When we say study, you say haul!" and "What do we want? Cat Packs. When do we want them? Meow."
  • Target's "Ready.Set.Prep!" campaign was so effective that they received 29% of the share of attention, which was the most for all retailers (Walmart only got 17.6%).
  • Staples focused more on advertising to parents with the tagline "it's pro time."
  • Walmart also ran a campaign during this time called "Many Chairs. One Table" which coincidentally came a week after the racist incident in Charlottesville.
  • In 2016, JCPenney launched a new tagline "Get your Penney's worth", which they used in all 2017 back-to-school advertising.
Part
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Part
08

Labor Day Ad Spend 2

Based on their TV advertising spends, the other top five brands promoting themselves for Labor Day were Verizon, Toyota, Taco Bell, DIRECTV, and Domino's Pizza. All the details regarding their ad campaigns during Labor Day weekend along with estimated ad spend are available in the attached spreadsheet.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

Our research team started our search by scouring Kantar Media for the Labor Day advertising budgets. While the organization provided some insights into Black Friday and other holidays, we found no articles written in the last four years regarding the advertising information on Labor Day. A survey of other additional marketing/advertising firms did not turn up any direct data pertinent to the request criteria. 'Marketing Fact Pack 2018' sponsored by Neustar did provide a summary of top advertising spends in 2017 by the brands (2018's data has not been published yet). The fact book also provided some valuable starting points in terms of company names and budgets as well as average advertising channel breakdowns (e.g., TV vs. online). Our research found that the top advertisers during a particular season did not necessarily equate to the top advertisers overall; however, the report did provide some vital information regarding average channel spend which was used in our triangulation explained below.

Since Labor Day, unlike Black Friday, does not appear to be a major subject of study among advertisers and marketing firms, we had to be a bit creative. iSpot TV provides a weekly list of top 10 TV advertisement spenders. While this list is not archived by the week directly on iSpot TV's website, the Internet Archive "Wayback Machine" has taken snapshots of this site since 2016.

TRIANGULATING TOTAL AD SPEND

Pulling the snapshot for September 5, which covered the week for Labor Day in 2018, we found the following TV ad spends topping the list:

According to 2018's Marketing Fact Pack sponsored by Neustar, the top advertising brands spent an average of 38.4% (i.e., $78.3 billion out of $204.0 billion) of advertising spend on online ads, 33.4% ($68.2 billion out of $204.0 billion) on television, with the remainder distributed among digital, print, radio, social media and others. Those percentages don't necessarily hold the same value during the holidays. Holidays associated with travel, like Labor Day, see increased out-of-home (OOH) ad spends compared to the rest of the year as advertisers attempt to reach travelers. Billboards, for example, see a 10% boost in advertising dollars. However, we don't find evidence that this boost makes a significant difference in terms of the advertising campaigns of the top brands, and so will not attempt to account for it in our triangulation.

Based on the above, the total ad spends among the top brands during Labor Day weekend in 2018 were:


While it should be noted that this is a rough calculation, given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible. We have provided all the required information including the estimated holiday spend, a brief overview of the companies and their campaigns in the attached spreadsheet. 


Part
09
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Part
09

Labor Day Ad Spend 1

Based on their TV advertising spends, the top five brands promoting themselves for Labor Day were GEICO, Progressive, T-Mobile, McDonald's, and State Farm. An estimate of their ad spend for the holiday as well as a summary of the companies and their advertising campaigns can be found in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and how we triangulated as well as a summary of our results.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

We began our study of Labor Day advertising budgets at Kantar Media. However, while that organization provided some key insights into Black Friday, we found no articles written in the last four years with similar information on Labor Day. A survey of other marketing/advertising firms did not turn up any direct data pertinent to the request criteria, though AdAge did provide a summary of top advertising spends in 2017 by company (2018's data has not yet been published). While this provided some valuable starting points in terms of company names and budgets as well as average advertising channel breakdowns (e.g., TV vs. online), our research found that the top advertisers during a particular season did not necessarily equate to the top advertisers overall. However, the report did provide some important information regarding average channel spend which became important to our triangulation, as we will explain below.

Since Labor Day, unlike Black Friday, does not appear to be a major subject of study among advertisers and marketing firms, we had to be a bit clever. iSpot.tv provides a weekly list of top 10 TV advertisement spenders. While this list is not archived by the week directly on iSpot.tv's website, the Internet Archive "Wayback Machine" has taken snapshots of this site since 2016.

TRIANGULATING TOTAL AD SPEND

Pulling the snapshot for September 5, which covered the week for Labor Day in 2018, we found the following TV ad spends topping the list:
Progressive - $13.9 million - "Guys Night Out"
McDonalds - $10.6 million - "Sweater"
State Farm - $10.3 million - "She Shed"
In terms of annual ad spend among top brands, approximately 38.4% of advertising spend in 2018 ($78.3 billion out of $204.0 billion) was spent on online ads and another 33.4% ($68.2 billion out of $204.0 billion) was spent on television. Those percentages obviously don't necessarily hold true during the holidays. In fact, holidays associated with travel, like Labor Day, see increased out-of-home (OOH) ad spends compared to the rest of the year as advertisers attempt to reach travelers. Billboards, for example, see a 10% boost in advertising dollars. However, we don't find evidence that this boost makes a major difference in terms of the advertising campaigns of the top brands, and so will not attempt to account for it in our triangulation. Even so, we must emphasize that our numbers are a rough triangulation based on an unprovable assumption, namely, that these companies all fall within the average and did not significantly shift the ratios of their advertising spend for the holidays.

Based on the above, the total ad spends among the top brands during Labor Day weekend in 2018 were:

We have entered these triangulated amounts into the project spreadsheet.

COMPANY AND HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN OVERVIEWS

GEICO
GEICO, whose name originally stood for "Government Employees Insurance Company," insures over 28 million vehicles in the US with over 17 million policies. Since 1996, the brand is owned by Berkshire Hathaway. GEICO's campaign was tinged with their usual good humor, showing Alexander Graham Bell disrupting a play to take a rather noisy phone call from his balcony seat--twice. A GEICO announcer says that "as long as people talk too loudly on the phone, you can count on the insurance company to save folks money."

PROGRESSIVE
Progressive, in their own words, "is one of the country’s largest auto insurance groups, the largest seller of motorcycle policies, the market leader in commercial auto insurance and one of the top 15 homeowners carriers, based on premiums written." Their commercial, "Guys Night Out," features Tom, a man who just bought a new house but has increasingly started acting like his dad, much to his friends' chagrin. The ending voiceover says that Progressive can't stop you from turning into your dad, but it can protect your home and car when you bundle your insurance packages.

T-MOBILE
T-Mobile, the "Un-carrier," is a wireless carrier that prides itself on its "customer first" philosophy. As of the end of 2017, they had 72.6 million customers and $40.6 billion in total revenue. "For the Rest of Us" features a variety of people having fun in a variety of locales while the eponymous song plays in the background. A voiceover proclaims that T-Mobile is offering unlimited data for as low as $30/month.

MCDONALD'S
McDonald's, the international fast-food giant, sports over 12,000 franchises in 80 countries, though it has seen declining revenues for at least the last five years. "Sweater" features a pair of grandmothers who proclaim themselves to be as "sweet and spicy" as McDonald's honey BBQ glazed chicken tenders. To prove the point, the eponymous, sleeveless sweater is shown being worn by a rather buff landscaper, who the grandmothers openly ogle from their lawn chairs.

STATE FARM
State Farm is yet another insurance company primarily known for auto insurance, but which has also branched into other insurances as well as banking, loans, and mutual funds. In their Labor Day ad spot, a woman is shown calling her State Farm agent, claiming that someone had burned down her "She Shed" (her husband claims it was just lightning) and asking if it is covered. She is far more enthusiastic than her husband to find out that it is.

CONCLUSION

It is interesting that all the top Labor Day advertisers are connected in some way to vacationing, whether insurance coverage for vehicles (i.e., which are used for vacation travel), limitless data to capture fun moments, or eating out on the road. In any case, the above information has been summarized in the project spreadsheet as requested.

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Black Friday Ad Spend 1a

Lowe’s, JC Penney, Home Depot, Walmart, and Kohl’s are the top five brands in terms of advertising spend during the black friday shopping season. Details have been included in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and an overview of our findings.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

According to Chain Store Age, which cited a report by Kantar Media, the top brands advertising in the 2018 Black Friday advertising season--and the consistent top ad spends in previous years--were Walmart at $63 million and Target at $60 million, with Amazon trailing behind. This led us to Kantar Media's site, which provided the following data on national television advertising spends among the top ten brands.
JC Penney $15 million -9%
Home Depot $14 million -9%
Walmart $11 million -36%
Kohl’s $10 million -16%
Target $8 million 53
Kay Jewelers $8 million 100%
Macy’s $6 million -5%
Amazon $5 million -27%
Zales $4million 31%
Note that Amazon nearly tripled its spend this year, which means bumped it into 4th place. 
The chart above only provided our team with television advertising budgets. Since television advertising is the most expensive and yet boasts the highest ROI of any channel, we could be certain that the brands with the highest television ad spend would also be the brands with the highest ad spend overall, but since the request criteria is for overall ad spend, we continued our research.
Unfortunately, Kantar lacked the data we needed, providing lists of "top retail advertisers by paid search clicks" for both product listing and text ads (and by device type), but not the ad spend. Attempts to locate the total online ad spend for Black Friday 2018 via marketing firm white papers or business media sources (e.g., Forbes, Fortune, Inc. Magazine), which might have let us triangulate the online ad spend for the top companies, were to no avail.
Therefore, we changed tactics. Since the top television spends belonged to publicly-traded companies, we studied their annual and quarterly financial reports to find out how much detail they included about their advertising budgets. This proved insufficient for our purposes.

TRIANGULATING TOTAL AD SPEND

Finally, we found a data point that would enable us to at least triangulate the total Black Friday ad spend for each of the top brands: In 2017, the top ten retailers spent an average of 62% of their holiday ad budgets on television, with the remainder distributed among digital, print, radio, and other. While this obviously wouldn't hold true in all cases in 2018--especially with Amazon's incredible surge in TV ad spend--for most of our brands, it would let us roughly calculate their total ad spend as follows (and rounded to the nearest million):

1 Lowe's - 38million ($24 million / 0.62)
2 JC Penney - $24million ($15million/0.62)
3 Home Depot - $22 million($14million/0.62)
4 Walmart - $17 million ($11 million/0.62)
5 Kohl’s - $16 million ($10 million/0.6)
While we admit that this is, at best, a rough calculation based on several assumptions, given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible.We have provided all the required information in the BLACK FRIDAY tab of the attached spreadsheet in ROWS 2-6.
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Black Friday Ad Spend 2a

Although there was limited information in the public domain, we have used the provided data from Kantar media and the average breakdown of total advertising budgets during the holiday season to triangulate that Target, Kay Jewelers, Macy’s, Amazon, and Zales are the next top five brands in terms of advertising spend during the black friday shopping season. Details have been included in the project spreadsheet as requested. Below is a deep dive into our methodology and an overview of our findings.

AD SPEND METHODOLOGY

According to Chain Store Age, which cited a report by Kantar Media, the top brands advertising in the 2018 Black Friday advertising season--and the consistent top ad spends in previous years--were Walmart at $63 million and Target at $60 million, with Amazon trailing behind. This led us to Kantar Media's site, which provided the following data on national television advertising spends among the top ten brands.
Retailer 2018 Spend % Change YoY  Lowe’s $24 million 57%
JC Penney $15 million -9%
Home Depot $14 million -9%
Walmart $11 million -36%
Kohl’s $10 million -16%
Target $8 million 53
Kay Jewelers $8 million 100%
Macy’s $6 million -5%
Amazon $5 million -27%
Zales $4million 31%
The chart above only provided our team with television advertising budgets. Since television advertising is the most expensive and yet boasts the highest ROI of any channel, we could be certain that the brands with the highest television ad spend would also be the brands with the highest ad spend overall, but since the request criteria is for overall ad spend, we continued our research.
Unfortunately, Kantar lacked the data we needed, providing lists of "top retail advertisers by paid search clicks" for both product listing and text ads (and by device type), but not the ad spend. Attempts to locate the total online ad spend for Black Friday 2018 via marketing firm white papers or business media sources (e.g., Forbes, Fortune, Inc. Magazine), which might have let us triangulate the online ad spend for the top companies, were to no avail.
Therefore, we changed tactics. Since the top television spends belonged to publicly-traded companies, we studied their annual and quarterly financial reports to find out how much detail they included about their advertising budgets. This proved insufficient for our purposes.

TRIANGULATING TOTAL AD SPEND

Finally, we found a data point that would enable us to at least triangulate the total Black Friday ad spend for each of the top brands: In 2017, the top ten retailers spent an average of 62% of their holiday ad budgets on television, with the remainder distributed among digital, print, radio, and other. While this obviously wouldn't hold true in all cases in 2018--especially with Amazon's incredible surge in TV ad spend--for most of our brands, it would let us roughly calculate their total ad spend as follows (and rounded to the nearest million):
Target $13 million ($8million/0.6)
Kay Jewelers $13 million ($8million/0.6)
Macy’s $10 million ($6million/0.6)
Amazon $8 million ($5million/0.6)
Zales $6million ($4million/0.6)
While we admit that this is, at best, a rough calculation based on several assumptions, given the lack of complete data available in the public domain, it is the best triangulation possible. We have provided all the required information in the BLACK FRIDAY tab of the attached spreadsheet in ROWS 7-11.
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December Ad Season

We found eight additional brands that have large holiday ad spends, which are T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Lexus, Lincoln, Kia, Buick, Ford, and Acura. The requested information about these additional brands that have large holiday ad spends is included in the attached spreadsheet. Below is an explanation of our research methodology and an overview of our research findings.

methodology

We found eight additional brands that have large ad spends during the holiday/December ad season, though we couldn't confirm whether those ad spends are specific to the U.S. Nonetheless, these were the only examples of large holiday ad spends that we could find because the brands listed in the other requests covered the available information about holiday-related ad spend. Before deciding upon those eight additional brands, we looked very thoroughly for brands with U.S.-specific ad spend in a variety of ways. First, we looked for articles about top-spending brands during December specifically. However, the articles we found were about holiday advertisements generally, not specific to December. One source that published such an article was Kantar Media.

For our second strategy, we expanded the scope of our research by looking for articles about brands that spent the most during the holiday season, instead of December specifically. That approach yielded articles about top brands' holiday ad spends, but we weren't able to use that information because (1) the brands listed had already been included by previous requests or (2) the amount of money spent on the ads was not included. Third, we looked for statistics/rankings about brands that spent the most on advertising by month and/or week. Ideally, we were hoping to find rankings of top-spending brands in December 2018 or, alternatively, for each week throughout December 2018. While we didn't find any such December-specific data, the only data we found was about one week's rankings in November, which was outside the scope of our research, so we did not include it.

As a fourth strategy, we looked for articles about specific, costly holiday ad campaigns because we thought that would at least demonstrate brands that have spent large amounts on specific holiday ad campaigns. From that strategy, we found an article published by Fierce Wireless that provided us with two brands' multi-million-dollar holiday ad campaigns (T-Mobile & MetroPCS). For our fifth strategy, we looked-up the famous holiday ad campaign from Lexus called "December to Remember" to see how much the company spent on that. By using that approach, we found an article published by Media Radar that not only stated that holiday ad campaign spend, but also provided information about other brands' holiday ad campaign spends, which we also included.

eight additional brands that have large holiday ad spends & their holiday ad campaigns

Among the eight brands listed below, two were included (T-Mobile and MetroPCS) because of the large sum they spent on an individual holiday ad campaign.

1. t-mobile

T-Mobile spent $16.5 million on one holiday ad campaign titled "Holiday TWOgether."

2. metropcs

MetroPCS spent $13.2 million on one holiday ad campaign titled "Black Friday Deal: Amazon Prime."

3. lexus

In 2017, "Lexus spent over $120 million on TV advertising during the holiday season (October to December 2017, also known as their fourth quarter)." Lexus's recent holiday ad campaign was titled "Celebrations."

4. lincoln

Lincoln spent $85 million on television advertisements "during the [2017] holiday season." Lincoln's recent holiday ad campaign was titled "Olivia's Wish List."

5. kia

Kia spent more than $120 million on television advertisements in 2017's holiday season. Kia's recent holiday ad campaign was titled "Light Up the Holidays."

6. buick

In 2017, "Buick spent almost $45 million on TV advertising" during the holiday season. Buick's recent holiday ad campaign was titled "Score the best gift of the season with Buick."

7. ford

Throughout the 2017 holiday season, "Ford spent over $225 million on TV advertising." Ford's recent holiday ad campaign was titled "Tree Cutting."

8. acura

Acura was projected to spend more than "$40 million on TV advertising" throughout the 2018 holiday season, which was the amount the company spent in the 2017 holiday season as well.
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Holiday Ad Spend Overview

In this Holiday Ad Spend project, four major 'advertising seasons' were reviewed in order to determine the top brands advertising during these time frames. The four 'seasons' reviewed were Labor Day, Black Friday, Christmas, and Cyber Monday. An additional review of the overall 'December ad season' was completed as well. Completed research reports have been compiled on each of the portions of this project (sent separately from this report) and an overview of each of the individual season's findings is included below and in the attached spreadsheet.

Labor Day

The top five brands advertising for Labor Day were GEICO, Progressive, T-Mobile, McDonald's, and State Farm, with an estimated ad spend that ranged from GEICO's $44.3 million to State Farm's $30.8 million and all have some connection to vacation themes. Other top advertisers during the Labor Day ad season are Verizon, Toyota, Taco Bell, DIRECTV, Domino's, Target, Old Navy, Staples, Walmart, and JCPenney. Though creative research tactics were employed, the determination of additional brands for this season proved to be fruitless, likely due to the fact that Labor Day does not seem to be a major subject of study among advertisers and marketing firms.

Black Friday

The top brands for advertising spend during the 2018 Black Friday season were Lowe's, JC Penney, Home Depot, Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Kay Jewelers, Macy's, Amazon, and Zales. These brands spent between $6 million and $38 million on advertising for Black Friday. Publicly available data made the determination of additional brand's spends on Black Friday virtually impossible as the majority of the data is contained within the total holiday spend data and a viable triangulation point to delineate the data was not available.

Christmas

Ad spending for Christmas was lead by Walmart, Amazon, Target, Macy's, JC Penney, Kohl's, Home Depot, Best Buy, Kay Jewelers, and Lowe's spending anywhere between $36 million and $129 million during the last ad season. As with the research surrounding Black Friday, further determination of top ad spenders was virtually impossible as the majority of the data is contained within the total holiday spend data and a viable triangulation point to delineate the data was not available.

Cyber Monday

Research found that the top ad spends for Cyber Monday were made by Walmart, Target, Kay Jewelers, Amazon, JC Penney, Kohl's, Macy's, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Old Navy. These retailers spent between $13 million and $101.5 million on ads for this one-day event. Again, as Cyber Monday is nestled within the umbrella of the holiday ad season, it was impossible to further confidently determine top brands as the majority of the data is contained within the total holiday spend data and a viable triangulation point to delineate the data was not available.

Ultimately, as a determination of the top 20 in each of Black Friday, Christmas, and Cyber Monday groupings was unable to be completed, a separate path to helpful insights was initiated. A review was made of the December holiday ad spending in general and determined that T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Lexus, Lincoln, Kia, Buick, Ford, and Acura are also big spending brands during the holiday season. While it could not be determined that these eight brand's spending was solely US-based, details on their campaigns have been included as a part of the entire research project.

Completed Research Reports Within This Project

Sources
Sources

From Part 05
From Part 06