How to do marketing around a holiday

Holidays and national days can be great opportunities to reach consumers with timely, resonant messaging. In this article, we look at a selection of tried and tested marketing tactics for making the most of big annual occasions including Christmas, New Year and Halloween. 

Use social listening to hop on festive trends 

From rising annual search volume around ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ to Instagram’s obsession with the Halloween hashtag #spoopy, online trends relating to holidays are often too strange for marketers to predict.  

Unless you have a crystal ball, the best way to find out about new trends before your competitors do is to set up a media monitoring tool to look out for news stories relating to relevant keywords, such as: 

  • Christmas meme
  • Christmas hashtag
  • Christmas online craze 
  • Easter meme
  • Easter hashtag
  • Easter online craze
  • Etc.

If you’ve never used a media monitoring tool before, a good way to get started is setting up Google Alerts – a free service which notifies you whenever Google indexes new content relating to your chosen keywords. Or, if you’re willing to pay a little, you could use a more sophisticated monitoring tool like Mention

As soon as you pick up on a trend that seems like it could be a good fit for your brand, you can incorporate it into your marketing strategy – for example, by planning some content around a trending seasonal hashtag. 

Here’s an example of a brand using several seasonal hashtags to promote its content on Instagram: 

Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 3.39.25 PM

The hashtags you’re looking for are in the comments: #spoopy, #halloweendress, and so on. 

Leverage user data to create meaningful, personalised content for New Year

In the run-up to New Year, most of us like to reflect on the year gone by. Nowadays, savvy tech brands are helping us do just that, by leveraging user data. 

For New Year 2017/18, Spotify ran a campaign called ‘2017 Wrapped’. Users of the platform were shown their listening statistics, such as how many minutes of music they had streamed, their favourite genre, and their top songs and artists. These stats were delivered in a format users could share on social: 

Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 3.43.57 PM

Spotify’s campaign helped users discover and share new information about their listening habits. In return, the brand racked up significant social shares. 

Not every type of business will be able to leverage user data in this way. For instance, consumers generally would not want to share end-of-year stats about how often they buy clothes from a certain store, how many coffees they’ve bought from their local café, or how many trips to the dentist they have made in the last twelve months. The ideal candidate for this type of marketing is a product or service where usage can represent achievement or identity formation – such as a fitness tracker app, language tuition service or a content streaming service like Spotify. 

If it seems like leveraging individual user data to power personalised festive marketing isn’t the right fit for your brand, you could try using anonymised user data instead. 

Once again, Spotify provides us a great example of this approach. In early 2018, the brand launched a ‘2018 Goals’ campaign, which featured humorous content based on how people were using Spotify, e.g. a billboard with the message, “2018 Goals: Eat vegan brisket with the person who made the playlist called “Leftist elitist snowflake BBQ”.” 

How could the way users interact with your brand translate into eye-catching seasonal marketing? 

Bring people together 

One of the biggest wins a brand can score during a holiday is to play a role in bringing friends and families together. 

A good example of this approach is Three and Samsung’s ‘Connected Restaurant’ campaign from Christmas 2018. 

The two companies opened a pair of pop-up restaurants in Dublin and Sydney, where diners could use the Three telecoms network and Samsung technology to share a Christmas dinner with loved ones on the other side of the planet.


If you’d like to read more Christmassy marketing case studies, check out our feature on the brands that won Christmas 2018

Be an anti-holiday-hero 

Thanks in no small part to marketing tactics like the ones covered so far in this article, lots of people are pretty fed up of holidays. 

Brands can capitalise on this festive ennui by setting up their stall as an anti-holiday option for the disaffected. 

For Valentine’s Day 2015, the creative agency McKinney ran a campaign called #ShredYourEx, where the public were asked to submit photos of their ex-partners to be digitally, and then physically, shredded.

The campaign certainly demonstrated McKinney’s ability to think outside the box, and the hashtag has since been adopted by Hooters, the bar chain.  

If you are considering going down the anti-holiday route, be sure to think carefully about whether this approach will appeal to your customer. Does it suit their sense of humour, or are they likely to take offense? 

What’s your top holiday marketing tip? Let us know via LAMA app. 


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