The winter holidays are arguably the loudest and most colorful holidays in the year. Aside from Christmas jingles blasting over mall speakers two months too early, people have the dreaded Holiday Sales to deal with and the additional stress of finding everybody they know the perfect gift. There’s just too much going on sometimes. You’d think video marketers would do well to keep this in mind, but no; if anything, web video production during the holidays tend to match the festivities – flashy, colorful, upbeat, chipper.
There’s nothing wrong with some spirited jingles and overused Christmas imagery (sleigh bells, reindeer, trees, ornaments). In fact, most marketers would argue that these video elements suitably serve to amp up the viewers’ excitement. Excited customers, more sales for the season – or so the logic goes.
The problem with this web video production approach is that everyone’s thought of it. Everyone’s going to feature happy children, perfect families, and bright laughter. Every company is going to use the ‘this season, give them the gift of [blank]’ angle to sell their wares. It’s tried, it’s tested – and it’s also tired.
Attention tends to wander when treated to the same formula time and again. Bear in mind that commercials can be ignored, radio ads can be muted, and web videos can be clicked out of. During the season, how do you make your video stand out?
Kmart’s unarguably snarky and clever commercial, Not A Christmas Commercial, attracts attention through its blatant use of obvious contradiction. The video, released in November, starts with this simple line: “It’s too early for Christmas. So just to be clear, this is not a Christmas commercial.”
The spokesperson then begins to talk about how there just might be a special event coming up soon, like your whole family having a birthday party on the same day, and how you – the viewer – should hop on over to Kmart for some great steals.
Her background, however, is full of holiday objects: yule logs on TV screens, beautifully wrapped gifts, and even a Christmas tree. It’s obvious, it’s blatant, and the title alone is enough to make anyone curious enough to watch it.
Web Video Production Takeaway: don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
This year, Heathrow’s Coming Home For Christmas advert went viral. It features two adorable teddy bears landing in the airport – already charming enough and cute enough to catch viewer’s attention. They’re surrounded by people who treat them like normal humans – handing them jackets, checking their passports (their photos are also teddy bears), and helping them with bags.
As the viewer is charmed by the walking soft toys, there’s also the wonder and curiosity of what message Heathrow is hoping to convey. The answer becomes clear when, at the end of the video, two human children run towards the teddy bears to welcome them home.
The camera shifts, and you see the teddy bears are actually an elderly couple – their grandparents. The message is how coming home is the greatest gift.
That’s it: no flashy fireworks, no complicated product shots. Just two huggable teddy bears.
Web Video Production Takeaway: simplicity, when used right, can work in your favor.
John Lewis’s The Long Wait breaks stereotype to deliver a thoroughly heart-warming message. It starts with a little boy counting down the days ‘til Christmas. Ten seconds in, you’re already rolling your eyes. The boy is impatient, driven, and focuses on the clocks and calendars and nothing else.
The song – Let Me Get What I Want – only serves to add to the idea that this little boy really wants to open his gifts. The viewer manages to watch the remaining video through pure curiosity: what present is this brat so excited to get?
The video ends, predictably, on Christmas morning. The boy opens his eyes, excitedly gets up, and completely bypasses the gifts waiting at the foot of his bed. He grabs a gift box from his closet and runs to his parents’ room, holding it up for them to see.
The tagline is simple. Paired with the video, it’s powerful: for gifts you can’t wait to give.