Best Holiday Ads of 2020

In recent years we’ve had a lot of fun putting together our Best of Holiday Marketing Lists, and this year is no different. Well, that’s not true. Everything about 2020 is different, including the creative used to drive retail sales. 

This year’s marketing has been challenging. How do you connect with your audience while remaining sensitive to the ongoing pandemic? This predicament has resulted in a noticeable uptick in holiday ads that are earnest, family focused, and comforting. The nostalgia of recent years’ ads is noticeably minimized while humor is reserved for wry “2020 was a dumpster fire” sentiments. 

According to Ace Metrix’s evaluation of more than 200 seasonal advertisements, consumers found 31 percent of 2020’s holiday ads to be soothing and 26 percent of people perceived the ads as wholesome, while 24 percent said they were heartfelt.

For a refresher on the best ads in recent years, take a look at the best of 2018 holiday ads here and the best of the decade here

Best Holiday Ads of 2020

Xfinity “The Greatest Gift”

When Steve Carrell is tapped to play the role of Santa, it simply must be added to the top of the list. Xfinity was one of the few brands unafraid to embrace humor for this year’s ad. However, they balanced the humor with sincerity by making the challenges of 2020 a central part of the story. This was a good strategy to avoid alienating viewers.

Kohl’s “Give With All Your Heart”

This year Kohl’s’ advertisement is one of the most emotional of the season. Also set during the pandemic, it centers on the void left through social isolation and tells the story of a connection made between neighbors of two different generations. 

Paypal “Bring the Holiday Magic Home”

A theme that popped up consistently among holiday ads this year was an increased effort in parents seeking to connect with their children or children wishing to spend time with their parents. This one also highlights canceled events and the way people have found creative ways to delight children even amidst the disappointment of the pandemic. 

Etsy “Gift Like You Mean It”

This ad connects with viewers who are not able to spend the holidays with family like they would on a normal year. It also ties in the product in an organic way as it shows a grandchild gifting a stuffed animal created from a drawing he made. 

Bonus: “Match Made in Hell”

While not specifically pertaining to the holidays, this ad is certainly one of the best released this season. Ryan Reynolds’ agency was tapped to create an end of year ad for Match. With a perfect combination of storytelling, humor, and creativity the ad shows that there’s someone for everyone–even in 2020. 

Marketers can learn a lot from this batch of the year’s best holiday ads. It’s critical to be keyed into where your audience is emotionally, what they are experiencing in their daily lives, and what tones to embrace or avoid altogether. All of the ads mentioned here nailed marrying the right emotional tone with creativity and excellent storytelling. 

by McKinley Marketing Partners