Holiday Marketing Case Studies

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Holiday Marketing Case Studies - Macy's, Walmart, Amazon, and Kohl's

A Case Study for all four companies (Macy's Walmart, Amazon and Kohl's) was covered and key performance indicators for their 2017 holiday season were given.
Overall, in the Major Retailers: Ad Awareness list for December 2017, Walmart placed 2nd, Kohl's placed 4th, Amazon placed 5th and Macy's placed 8th. In the Major Retailers: Value list for December 2017, Amazon placed 1st, Walmart placed 2nd and Kohl's placed 10th.

Macy's Case Study

For the holiday period of 2017, Macy's ran their Lighthouse | The Perfect Gift Brings People Together” Campaign.

Macy's changed its marketing strategy and inculcated an “emotive storytelling” one to connect with its customers. Through the 2017 holiday marketing campaigns, Macy's focused on the emotional aspects of advertising. Macy's elevated some of its work to win the emotional high ground and thus projected itself as someone who is "part of people’s lives". They wanted to make sure that "Christmas advertising reflected that role" and/or positioning.

Macy's "Lighthouse ad celebrates" both generosity of spirit and the fact that the holidays bring us all together. Macy's "thoughtfully (and creatively)" had one of their products placed at the "centre of an emotional story" yet still they succeeded in not making that product the focus of the advertisement.

Key Performance Indicators for Macy's 2017 Holiday Campaign

1) Macy's advertisement had over 4 million views on YouTube which was a success for a campaign that embodied "the spirit of the holiday season while also featuring" their product.

2) For 2017, Macy's reported fourth-quarter sales of $8.7 billion, which is a 1.8% rise over the previous year's period, and this goes with a "comparable sales increase of 1.3%".

3) Macy's secured 8th position in the Major Retailers "Value list for December 2017".

Walmart's Case Study

Walmart's ‘Rock This Christmas’ campaign which was done on TV showed "children excitedly unwrapping toys on Christmas morning" all while their parents are celebrating the great deals they got. Walmart aimed to create a "family time experience" for the holidays. "Walmart's chief merchandising officer" went into more detail by stating their goal is to serve their customers and "during the holiday season" they work that much harder to deliver what their customers want the most..." to save time and money"

Walmart went even further by "throwing more than 20,000 parties" at their various Supercenters throughout the 2017 holiday season. Walmart brought back their popular "Holiday Helpers" who are associates that are dedicated to helping customers. This was Walmart's "biggest holiday event ever".

Key Performance Indicators for Walmart's 2017 Holiday Campaign

1) In the United States, Walmart "delivered strong comparable sales growth of 2.6%" which was primarily due to "improved comparable traffic growth in stores of 1.6%". Walmart's holiday sales were solid.

2) Walmart placed 2nd in the Major Retailers "Value list for December 2017". Walmart placed 2nd as well in the Major Retailers "Ad Awareness list for December 2017".

Amazon's Case Study

Amazon’s ‘Give’ Campaign was how they started off the 2017 holiday season. The ad shows their "distinctive Amazon logos" on the boxes animate into delightful mouths that sing to a popular cover version of the song "Give a Little Bit". Amazon's ad is based on an emotional and simple story of a commuter buying a present from Amazon's Christmas Store and show the "entire shipping process" from purchase to arrival.

Key Performance Indicators for Amazon's 2017 Holiday Campaign

1) Amazon captured over 89% of US online spend amongst the major holiday retailers during the holiday season.

2) Amazon reported revenues of $60.5 billion over the holiday period compared to $59.83 billion for the comparable previous period. They attributed this to their strong holiday sales.

3. Amazon placed 1st in the Major Retailers "Value list for December 2017". Amazon placed 5th in the Major Retailers "Ad Awareness list for December 2017".

Kohl's Case Study

Kohl’s “Give Joy, Get Joy” Campaign hinged on their "promotional Kohl's Cash". The advertisement leverages Kohl's Cash "as a distinctive way" for Kohl's customers to "feel more joy during the holiday". The campaign focused on Kohl's Cash as a way to provide their customers with the "deepest savings on everything in their store" for the holiday season.

Key Performance Indicators for Kohl's 2017 Holiday Campaign

1) Kohl's reported fourth-quarter sales of $6.8 billion which were a 9.2% rise over the year-earlier period.

2) Kohl's placed 10th in the Major Retailers "Value list for December 2017". Kohl's placed 4th in the Major Retailers: "Ad Awareness list for December 2017".


Macy's, Walmart, Amazon and Kohl's all had an increase in sales and revenue for the 2017 holiday season when compared to the previous year's holiday season. In the Major Retailers: Value list for December 2017, Amazon placed 1st, Walmart placed 2nd and Kohl's placed 10th. In the Major Retailers: Ad Awareness list for December 2017, Walmart placed 2nd, Kohl's placed 4th, Amazon placed 5th and Macy's placed 8th.
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Holiday Marketing Case Studies - Target, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and OldNavy

Hello and thank you for sending your request to Wonder for case studies on the 2017 holiday marketing efforts of Target, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and / or Old Navy.
To respond to this request, we searched for advertising campaigns by these companies that used emotive storytelling during the 2017 holiday season and then sought to provide evidence of improved ROI for each company in financial reports that followed. In brief, Target and Old Navy made the most explicit use of such advertising during the 2017 holiday season and posted positive results for Q4, while TJ Maxx and Target tied for first place as "top retailer."

According to a blog on the most popular holiday content trends on Instagram for 2017: "The best holiday marketing campaigns are multifunctional and developed to hit several objectives at once: engage your audience, evoke an emotion, tie back to your core corporate strategy, be aesthetically pleasing, and draw from the visual trends users are currently enamored with."


Target typically incorporates a lot of storytelling in its TV ads. In the 2017 holiday spot, two children and Target's mascot, Bullseye the dog, find a house "in need of some holiday spirit," so they enlist the help of characters from the "retailer's toy shelf, such as Barbie, Lego Bagman, Minions, My Little Pony's Pinkie Pie, Darth Vader, and the Trolls, to decorate the house for a 'super special family.'" The house is the same one sold by Target in dollhouse form "as part of its new in-house brand Hearth & Hand with Magnolia from Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV's 'Fixer Upper' fame." The holiday campaign was called "Together's the Joy." In 2016, the retailer ran a "Nutcracker-themed campaign" with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, while in 2015 it broadcast an "Odyssey-like journey."

"Not only is it a fun way to integrate this beautiful new, only-at-Target brand, it introduces that sense of magic and wonder that's always been part of our holiday marketing," said Todd Waterbury, chief creative officer.
"The holiday effort [was] also designed to expand beyond the [2016] Hispanic-targeting effort to be more inclusive after missing an opportunity that year to market to empty-nesters, teens and families without kids." The spots ran in Spanish versions and included celebrities such as Jaime Camil from "Jane the Virgin" and home decor expert Nate Berkus. In 2016, "Target spent $148.3 million on measured media in the U.S. in November and December, according to Kantar Media, and [was to increase its budget in 2017] by a percentage in the mid-single digits."

Target's investment paid off during the holiday season with comparable sales rising 3.4% in November and December, well above its own forecasts and Wall Street's expectations. "Our holiday season performance reflects meaningful investments in our team, increasing wages, staffing and training to deliver elevated service and expertise," Target CEO Brian Cornell said.


While the holidays are a child's dream, they're often stressful for adults, which is why Old Navy added in a group of adults to join the kids in its 2017 holiday campaign to show that "everyone can feel like a kid around the holidays." The brand's 'Hi, Fashion' creative platform presented its first 'HoliYAY' TV spot ahead of Black Friday, in which a group of kids (and then, adults) "sneak out of their houses for a cul-de-sac dance party, wearing Old Navy's signature cozy socks." Throughout December, the campaign continued with an episodic format like chapters in a book.

As part of its campaign, for every dollar spent on their "dollar" socks, Old Navy donated up to one million dollars to the Boys & Girls Club. "What's important for us is continuing to build on our differentiator, which is our brand and the fun element of our brand," Gersch said. "'Hi, Fashion' and 'HoliYAY' we think is a differentiator in the marketplace, but honestly I think the dollar cozy sock is a huge differentiator from our competition. We know our customers love the dollar flip-flop, and we think it is a huge opportunity for our customers to participate in a similar event, just in the holiday season."

And, rather than focus on celebrities to boost advertising, Old Navy 'hides' celebrity Jenny Slate in its ads: "You wont see Slates face in the video adjust her cozy, sock-covered feetthough you do hear her iconic voice."

During fiscal year 2017, Old Navy grew 6% and surpassed $7.2 billion in sales. As noted by Arthur L. Peck of Gap Inc., "While the fourth quarter is an important one for all of the obvious reasons, posting such strong results is especially notable as we lapped a strong holiday last year with positive traffic at Old Navy and Gap." Among major retailers, Old Navy is the fastest-growing major apparel brand in the U.S.


The "Gift My Gathering" promotion by TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods was a contest that gifted five families with a custom holiday get-together, based on the idea that a majority of Americans believe that the most meaningful way to mark the holidays is through gathering as a family over turkey at Thanksgiving, trimming the tree or lighting the menorah or kinara.

Beyond the contest, the three brands and their customers helped provide at least 21 million meals to local Feeding America food banks to help families in need during the 2017 season.

The TJX Companies ended 2017 on a high note, generating strong sales and earnings in Q4 and the fiscal year. "Comparable store sales gained 4% in the quarter versus the year-earlier period, with HomeGoods up 3%, Marmaxx, including the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls banners, up 3%, TJX Canada up 7% and TJX International, including operations in Europe and Australia, up 3%. Net sales in the fourth quarter were $10.96 billion versus $9.47 billion in the year-prior period."


During "the final stretch of the [2017] holiday shopping season," Target retained high consumer Ad Awareness among major retailers in third place, according to YouGov BrandIndex. JC Penney ranked sixth, while Old Navy ranked in seventh place.


While all three brands used some form of emotive storytelling in their 2017 holiday ad campaigns, Target and Old Navy focused on imaginative themes, with Target basing its campaigns on toys and Old Navy basing its campaigns on 'real' people. Old Navy produced the most explicit 'storytelling' ads through its presentation of episodes / chapters of its campaign. TJ Maxx also focused on real people but emphasized the emotive qualities of families getting together for the holidays. All three companies used celebrities to some extent in their marketing, while two added a humanitarian component, with donations going to children and food banks. All three brands posted significant gains in Q4 2017 as a result. In terms of brand awareness during the 2017 holiday season itself, Target, Old Navy and JC Penney all found themselves among the top 10.

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