2018 Holiday Ad Trends: "But It's Not Even Thanksgiving Yet!"

By Samantha Harr | 5 Minute Read

When Do the Winter Holidays Officially Start?

The common practice of holiday transition in days past was to go completely nuts having little kid fun at Halloween, politely act pleased to hang out with extended family for Thanksgiving, then for the month of December combine those two practices in crescendo up to Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Kwanzaa/ Solstice. American culture used to insist on giving each of the three holiday timespans its own moment in the marketing spotlight.

It’s easy to say that things have changed quite a bit. Black Friday got pushed earlier and earlier with midnight releases, then Thanksgiving night deals and this year some people are even staying up until past midnight on Wednesday so they can hit Kmart for early Black Friday sales.

Ultimately this has led to businesses also pushing back their marketing campaigns sooner than ever. Whether you’re the type to believe this is a war on Thanksgiving or an extension of wintery good cheer, the ads are here already and we’ve started watching them for you to get an early glimpse into this season’s trends. Here are some of our favorite ads that launched fast for winter 2018.

 Holiday Marketing 2018 Give Thanks

2018 Holiday Marketing Trend: Back to Basics

One of the most interesting trends in early holiday campaigns this year is a very old school approach to the way toys are presented and which toys are presented. Amazon mailed out a toy catalogue. Like, an actual physical catalogue you can hold in your hand and browse at your leisure. This has been getting lots of attention and it’s great to see a return to holiday print media. Turning pages, putting in post-it notes, and circling things that catch our eye is nostalgic fun.

 Amazon Holiday Toy Catalog 2018 Marketing Brand Advertising Campaign
 Amazon Holiday Toy Catalog 2018 Page 3 Marketing Brand Advertising Campaign
 Amazon Holiday Toy Catalog 2018 Page 5 Marketing Brand Advertising Campaign

Big box stores aren’t pushing electronics early yet, keeping a focus on more traditional ideas of children’s gifts: toys over touchscreens. As much as we all love touchscreens, it is admittedly nice to be reminded that not all fun has to be high tech. Check out “Light Up Christmas” by Walmart:

 
 

2018 Holiday Marketing Trend: Minimalism

Many top department stores have opted for a minimalistic visual branding direction. Super busy cluttered sparkly ad spaces can be a whole lot of fun, but it’s more difficult to direct the viewer’s eye with so much happening in one space. The great thing about minimalism in holiday ads is that there’s no question of where to look. The exact product a company wants to showcase is highlighted front and center. Some have even taken advantage of Memphis-style graphics coming back into aesthetic style.

 Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale’s

 Nordstrom

Nordstrom

In these examples, less is certainly more. Campaign themes are clear, attractive, and fun. As we do our own shopping, some gifts are easy to pick. We know what a few relatives want basically year round. Others have sensibilities that are not nearly so easy to pin down. Minimalism takes a lot of stress out of the shopping experience, because it doesn’t lead the viewer to panic that there’s always more and they’re missing something unless they keep looking and looking and looking. In the minimalistic approach, we see what’s there. It’s all visually accessible.

 
 Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus

 

2018 HOLIDAY MARKETING TREND: SUBTLETY

Not everyone wants to admit they’re advertising for the winter holidays this early, and that’s totally ok. It’s a fine line to walk, knowing what’s too soon or too late to get the word out to potential buyers. There are plenty of people who take umbrage at seeing Christmas trees and snowmen before the turkey is even on the table for Thanksgiving. No company wants to be boxed out of the market due to retaliation for having been too quick on the draw. Target has a great example of a holiday ad that we all know is a holiday ad, but goes really easy on the imagery. (Can we get one of those unicorn sleeping bags in adult size?)

 
 

Fashion retailers H&M and Victoria’s Secret are dropping subtle hints as well. H&M’s ad is only clearly intended as a holiday promotion because it says the word “holiday” in small print. Otherwise, this ad could be run anytime in fall and fit right in. VS is displaying pajamas and slippers which one could buy year-round, but they sure are giftable. We get the idea. Red and green are delicately woven in, but not front and center. A little bit of gold sparkle peaking in at the sides. Nothing here is alienating to the consumer who is a lover of all things Thanksgiving.

 H&M Holiday 2018
 Holiday 2018 Victorias Secret Ad

Winter is coming

New holiday advertisements are popping up every day, and the quantity will only snowball (heh) until the end of December. Let us know the most fantastic ads you see from here on out. The Trig team is always interested in trend direction and clever campaign design. You can share in the comments here or tag us on twitter @triginnovation. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!