Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Advertising Fails

Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Advertising Fails

Making a great holiday ad should be simple. It’s an easy formula, but one that a surprising number of brands mess up every year. My Content Marketing Takeaway: Humor is great for marketing. Sainsbury’s Turns a War Story into a Commercial On the complete opposite side of the irony spectrum, we have the absolute deadly earnestness of Sainsbury’s Christmas ad from 2016. After you watch the video, you’re invited to watch two different behind-the-scenes videos – they’re that proud: The ad tells the true story of American and German troops in 1914 that called a cease-fire on Christmas Day. It makes me feel manipulated by a brand, rather than entertained by a story. Gregg Bakery’s Sausage Savior British bakery chain Greggs stirred up controversy this year with their advent calendar announcement. And they’re getting eyerolls from folks who are tired of edgy brands courting controversy during the holidays. Stirring up pointless controversy doesn’t tell anyone about your brand, and doesn’t make a meaningful distinction to your target audience. Are you already looking past the holidays to the New Year?

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Making a great holiday ad should be simple. Start with a heartwarming message about love, peace, and goodwill. Add twinkling lights and evergreen trees and families getting warm by a fire. Then add your brand’s logo discreetly toward the bottom right. There you have it – a holiday ad that won’t offend, creep out, or annoy anyone.

It’s an easy formula, but one that a surprising number of brands mess up every year. Fortunately for us, they mess up in entertaining and educational ways. It’s almost easier to learn from a cautionary tale than a role model, so reveling in bad marketing can make you a better marketer.

These four holiday ads are certified disastrous, each in their own special way. And each has a lesson – or two – that marketers can use all year round. So prepare yourself for blasphemous meat products and yodeling cats: It’s time for some festive marketing fails.

1. Sour Sentiment from KFC

Last year, KFC created this music video, which is inexplicably three minutes long:

If you have better things to do with three minutes, the song is about how awful the holidays are, how people are annoying, how children are the absolute worst…but we can all come together because KFC is delicious.

KFC’s a notoriously “edgy” brand on social media, so it makes sense they would launch a sourball right at the heart of the holiday season. But this video leaves a worse aftertaste than their potato wedges do.

I believe comedy is great for marketing. But there are so many layers of irony and misanthropy here that it’s hard for the joke to breathe – by the time the gospel choir comes in, it’s impossible not to roll your eyes. And even if it made you chuckle all the way through, did it make you hungry for KFC?

My Content Marketing Takeaway: Humor is great for marketing. Irony less so. Snarkiness infinitely less so. Stick with humor that invites your audience into your…

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