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The Joy of Holiday Stories Well Told

'Tis the season.

And you know what that means.

It's my annual picks for best holiday spots of the year.

Now, 2022 is a great year for some awesome holiday communications. Now you may not have seen several of these ads, as these stories may not be appearing in the formerly traditional expected place, i.e., television.

And, I am asking you to be a little patient this go around as my picks are not your basic :30 "quick-flick" TV variety. They are up to 3 minutes - holy cow! - in length.

Now, work with me here. I know it's the holiday season and things are hectic and there's little time to waste ... and .... and ...


Great storytelling may take a little more time. You owe it to yourself to take a few additional seconds and enjoy some extremely well-crafted holiday stories. I think you will find they bring a little smile to your face, and perhaps a tiny tinge in your heart.

As I said, these spots are a bit longer, as they are not designed first and foremost for television. The key is to deliver powerful, concise-but-not-30-second-constrained stories that will be shared on social media where there are no stipulations for how long something has to be. It just has to be really good because you need people to pass it on to others.

That's how effective communications work these days. Build a truly emotional story that engages and resonates ... and they will share. It's all about sharing via social media.

As long-time Fred Moore or Less readers know, I have always been a big fan of those companies that create these annual story gifts for us. It says a lot about who they are as an organization. And, it certainly makes their own employees proud and grateful when they see their company delivering these annual emotional holiday stories of hope.

Leading, smart companies like Toyota, Apple and Chick-fil-A take great pains (and substantial expense) each year to provide holiday messages of hope, love and cheer. Thank you.

Between you and me, I can't figure out why players who formerly dominated the holiday advertising period with their annual gifts of Christmas tales have backed away.

Remember ... the Coca-Cola polar bears? The jingle-bell-laden, Budweiser-pulling Clydesdales trotting down the snow-covered holiday lane? The faithful son sneaking in the back door of his family home to surprise his overjoyed and tearful mother early Christmas morning for Folgers?

Why would these holiday story leaders walk away from being a part of all of our holiday memories?

Oh well, thank goodness there are companies that still believe in the Christmas magic.

This year we will start again with the country that - without fail - delivers some of the absolutely best Christmas ads year after year. Our old friends - the Brits.

In my mind, the UK National Lottery with their spot "Just Imagine - A Christmas Love Story" hit a home run (or whatever is equivalent in cricket) with their holiday tale.

I loved reading about why the UK National Lottery created this story of hope and love this year.

For context, Britain was - when this spot was put together this summer - suffering from close to record-setting inflation. And, especially earlier this year, the British community was deeply worried about their energy supply for the coming winter given the continuing war in the Ukraine.

As one of the UK National Lottery developers of this ad said:

“At a time when the nation needs some magic in the air, we wanted to create a larger-than-life story about hope and true love."

In other words, creating a storytelling gift to their country.

We all won with that spot. Well done.

And then there is that joy, wonderment and magic that comes from children this time of year.

Our friends at Lego skillfully capture those qualities in this epic holiday spot.

Lego is all about fueling the imagination of children. Think they effectively captured that here?

This fun fantastical tale was created strategically from the very beginning. The developers of this ad started this effort by talking to kids who were Lego enthusiasts. During the creative process, Katy Perry was named by the kids as the pop star they would most like to see featured in a Lego ad. So, Lego made it happen.

And interestingly, that is where the spot is viewed the most - via Katy Perry's social channels.

Katy has the 7th largest social media following in the world! Just on Instagram alone, Katy has 182 million followers! (A majority of whom are Lego-aged kids) In terms of Instagram followers, that puts Katy Perry ahead of Rihanna, Beyonce and Lionel Messi!

Thus, by delivering this three-minute engaging Lego story on all of Katy's major social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), the company reached an audience significantly larger than television's best - the Super Bowl. (Last year's Super Bowl television estimated worldwide audience? 208 million)

From a business-building perspective, Lego did a lot of other smart things with this campaign. During the critical pre-holiday sell-in season, Lego promised retailers replicas of the creative vehicle that the kids in the spot built - which they labeled "The Thing" - so they could display "The Thing" in their stores during the Christmas shopping period. Storytelling and business building working hand in hand.

Now, for my final 2022 Holiday Ad pick, I am going with something a little different.

OK ...way different!

This holiday campaign is - in fact - centered on a 60-second television spot...with a 10-hour addendum. (I'll explain shortly.)

It's from Ocean Spray - makers of the age-old, venerable Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce found for many a decade at family holiday dinner tables. Yes, this is your grandma's staple. Crack open the can and you're good to go.

Now in this day of farm-to-table naturalness and goodness, the future lifespan of the gelatin-like cranberry sauce in its factory can mold would appear to be severely limited. Don't know for sure but guessing canned cranberry sauce is not going to be a hit with the health-conscious younger adult target.

Yet, with this ad, Ocean Spray is blazingly going right after this important, product-sustaining group. And, even more courageously, the company is putting the unique can-molded gelatin quality of their product front and center in their 2022 holiday ad campaign.

It's all about the jiggle.

Simply brilliant.

The Ocean Spray campaign is entitled "Power Your Holidays."

And it is a campaign. Television, digital executions and social extensions of the campaign all aim to invite people to "jiggle with" Ocean Spray, including dancing with a wobbling jelly on TikTok.

As Advertising Age said in their praise of this campaign: "The idea is that cranberry, often the only bright red food in a spread of beige potatoes and casseroles, can liven up the holiday food offering."

Hats off to Ocean Spray's agency Orchard for this one. And hats off to the people at Ocean Spray for having the courage to run it. Creating great brands requires risks and courage. They really had some fun with this campaign.

And get this. The company is offering through their YouTube channel a 10-hour video of a soothing holiday fireplace complete with three small cranberry jiggling towers in the foreground, some Christmas piano music and periodic, strange jiggling noises.

Feel free to download and display - for 10 hours straight - on your living room flatscreen for holiday friends and family. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

So there you have it. These are tales that display the absolute best of our advertising industry. Really top-notch work for some very creative folks.

Love to see what they deliver year after year.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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