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C Space Inspiration Weekly: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Holiday Marketing

It’s that time of the year again – the time for hate, discomfort, annoyance, poorly made jokes and…wait…is THAT what the holiday season has become?! If you’ve already heard horror stories of marketing gone bad this season, you’re not alone. Every year we’re inundated with stories of companies that have tried something new and missed the mark dramatically.

So, this week, our inspiration will focus on the importance of talking with, and listening to, your customers and which companies are getting it right or getting it wrong.

Consumers Aren’t So Cheery About Starbucks’ Holiday Cup Controversy, The Wall Street Journal

So, many of you may be torn about this one. In theory the message is great – based on watching customers doodle on their cups year after year, Starbucks wanted to give a blank canvas to allow for self-expression.

In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs…this year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.” 

However, this was never conveyed until after social media exploded with anger. Bringing this design in front of customers in a closed environment would have been the easiest way to avoid conflict and surface just how important the designs are to customers. Maybe this would have led to a compromise of open space with a few holiday symbols? Maybe this would have led Starbucks to leave the cup red but explain the intended message in writing on the cup?

My pessimistic view is that no matter what the case…if there wasn’t an abundance of holiday cheer on the cup, people would have still complained. But, maybe it would have at least shown Starbucks’ willingness to have an open dialogue with customers instead of just dropping a red, reindeer-less, snowflake-less, bomb on everyone.

Bloomingdale’s Apologizes For Ad Seen As Encouraging Date Rape, Fortune

I’m a little less on the fence about this one…as most people are. For some of the gaffes companies encounter I usually think ‘ah, I see what they were trying to do…poor execution.’ For this ad I’ve looked at it from every angle but it all circles back to the same thing…man looks at pretty woman, advert suggests date rape. This is a clear example of why it’s important to talk to your customers and test your ads.

Hallmark ditches TV, goes all-digital in its 2015 holiday campaign, DIGIDAY

I’ll end this week’s inspiration on a positive note.

When you think of creative and engaging holiday advertising you probably don’t think of Hallmark. However, this year they seem to be listening to their customers and creating engaging content. For 2015 Hallmark is going digital-only with their campaign “#KeepsakeIt Together” which is meant to promote their line of Keepsake Christmas ornaments. The adverts are, as Ann Herrick, marketing director of omnichannel marketing at Hallmark says, “an opportunity to reach target audiences in the environment where they spend a preponderance of their time — connected to their digital devices.”

While the positioning is great, the content is as well – the ads realize all of the things families do during the holiday season and poke fun at how hectic the whole time can be – from decorating the tree, to family dinner, to the dreaded family photo.

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