Gap, Argos Holiday Ads Tug Heartstrings, Tap Into Dreams

The fake cobwebs had barely been taken down when the advertising world–as it does–abruptly shifted gears and moved on from the fake gore of Halloween to the sweet Frank Capra violins of the holiday season. Didn’t Christmas-related marketing used to wait for Thanksgiving to clear out? Perhaps so. But if those days ever existed, they’re long gone now.

The fake cobwebs had barely been taken down when the advertising world–as it does–abruptly shifted gears and moved on from the fake gore of Halloween to the sweet Frank Capra violins of the holiday season. Didn’t Christmas-related marketing used to wait for Thanksgiving to clear out? Perhaps so. But if those days ever existed, they’re long gone now.

Let’s pause to note that Google’s “Home Alone Again” ad won the 2018 Holiday Season hands down. The spot featured a full-grown Macaulay Culkin revisiting his iconic 1990 role as Kevin McCallister, only this time aided by a Google Home Mini. (“Hey Google, add after-shave to my shopping list.”) The ad delivered laughs and tender nostalgia in equal measure.

So which brand will claim the crown for the 2019 holiday season? It’s early but here are two worthy prospects.

Argos. The UK-based catalog retailer scores big points for its “Book of Dreams” video, a fine piece of creative and the best use of a Simple Minds song since “The Breakfast Club.” The Dad–with rock-and-roll dreams in his heart–is well-cast and the close-up on his footie PJs is priceless. But the star of this show is 9-year-old drum wizard Nandi Bushell. (See her here jamming with Lenny Kravitz.)

We love how the spot channels that Spike Jonze/FKA Twigs iPhone ad without ripping it off directly. And we love how it taps into the dreams we carry at every age, doing so with humor and pathos.

Gap. Don’t watch this next one if you have kids. Seriously, don’t. Especially bigger kids who used to be small. Don’t watch it because you will be reduced to a pool of nostalgia and raw emotion and vague sweet memories.

Reminiscent of the film “Red Violin,” Gap’s 60-second “Gift the Thought” follows the life of an object to connect emotionally. By imbuing such a familiar item–a well-worn hoodie–with some gravitas, it helps land as a resonant piece of marketing. Terrific work by Gap CMO Alegra O’Hare and her colleagues.

Tweet us your picks for the best holiday marketing of 2019, won’t you?

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