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Holiday marketing – Should we leap onto it?

Published: 29/02/2016 | AUTHOR: Emily Bray

Leap Year

As a full service marketing agency  it’s a question that has plagued many a campaign brainstorm. Holiday marketing – should we leap onto it or is it a tactic best left for card shops, Coca Cola and John Lewis?

So it’s not a holiday, or at least not yet despite the efforts of a petition to make it a national public holiday, but that hasn’t stopped brands and marketers utilising leap year in their campaigns.

In the run up to Leap Day  marketers have been throwing out incentives, offers and campaigns left, right and centre, but does holiday marketing really work? Or is it viewed as just a cheap shot at some extra coverage?

Deadpool magic

Tipped as the film of the year months before to its release, Deadpool is a film that’s utilised holiday marketing and won. Its marketing has almost seen more press coverage than the film itself and much of that is down to its relentless holiday marketing action. From Valentine’s Day to even localised campaigns such as Australia Day, Deadpool and the Merc with a Mouth has covered it all to great avail.

Even those who had no interest in Marvel or superhero films prior to Deadpool were found  talking about the tongue-in-cheek picture. Why? Because it successfully used the holidays as a base on which to promote the essence of the film and brand it was trying to broadcast. In this scenario the brand in question has a clearly visible ambassador, the Deadpool character played by actor Ryan Reynolds, which has undoubtedly helped the holiday marketing work. From a Mother’s Day post on Instagram stating that ‘#Deadpool always delivers to Halloween and Christmas all covered well in advance of the film’s release, each post was hailed a success for one reason alone – it reinforced the tone of the brand.

How’s this for meta? The women and men of Fox Marketing. Their work on #Deadpool changed the game.

A photo posted by Ryan Reynolds (@vancityreynolds) on

Leap year marketing

As the above example illustrates, holiday marketing doesn’t just come down to the main holidays, it encompasses events, ‘national days’, awards and much more. Pancake Day even saw brands embracing social media in an attempt to generate conversation and conversions. Leap Year is another example of such a marketing opportunity and brands are taking the Leap Day in hand yet again.

In the past, the day has seen special deals for leap year babies, proposal packages at restaurants aimed at women seizing the day and even a film made around the subject. All valiant efforts but why does it work better for some than others?

Again it all comes down to relevance.

Many brands have taken on the ‘leap year’ theme in order to ramp up their campaigns, from Dove making the link between the extra day and their ‘mission to make women feel more beautiful every day’ to America’s Association of Zoos and Aquariums highlighting amphibian conservation – get it? Amphibians…frogs…leaping. Needlessly to say, the main advice when considering a leap year campaign is to ensure it’s relevant to your brand.

Without relevance, all wit and campaign success is lost.

The bottom line

Just leaping on the leap year ‘brand’-wagon because everyone else is doing it isn’t enough of reason to say that it’ll work for your brand. Think about whether it relates with your message and tone of voice, if the answer is ‘no’ then don’t do it.

You might be thinking what does Coca Cola have to do with Christmas? What does Deadpool have to do with Valentine’s Day? The bottom line is that they were all brand-appropriate campaigns.

Deadpool is all about breaking the fourth wall of cinema and speaking directly with the audience, so what better way of attracting the consumer’s attention than by doing this in marketing?

Coca Cola, and its big red trucks are now synonymous with Christmas. Part of the reason for this is the relevance of these big red trucks making their way across snowy landscapes to make their delivery, albeit of Coca Cola rather than presents and toys. The drink is about celebrating and relaxing with those you love, a brand message that relates very well to the Christmas holiday.

So back to the question – are brands jumping on holiday marketing too much? In some cases, yes, but the bottom line is if it is relevant, it’s appropriate – and may very well equate to a successful campaign.

Seen any great example of holiday marketing campaigns? Feel free to share them with us on our Twitter page.

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