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Shelby Hartin Shelby Hartin
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The Marketing Edge - Big Brand Spotlight: Hallmark

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As we put Thanksgiving behind us and look toward December holidays and the new year, there are certain brands that are, once again, launching holiday marketing campaigns that lift our spirits.

Each year, I find myself watching Christmas movies in my spare time as I prepare to celebrate with family. Every so often, I’ll catch a spot-on Hallmark commercial that makes me smile, laugh, say “aww” or even shed a tear.

These traditional commercials celebrating milestones in life always seem to get me, and I’m not the only one. From Hubspot to Ad Age, companies who specialize in various aspects of marketing continually mention Hallmark’s campaigns as being some of the very best. I’ve sifted through various articles that mention Hallmark’s campaigns and why they’re effective, but their success truly comes down to this: everything that Hallmark creates is built to evoke emotion by using storytelling.

Perhaps the best examples are their traditional “Hallmark moments” commercials. One of them features a grandfather who happens to be illiterate. He takes a class so he can learn how to read, and as he struggles through children’s books and newspapers, the viewer may wonder why he’s chosen to undertake such a mission so late in life. He eventually learns how to read, only for the commercial to cut back to his home, where he pulls a Hallmark card out of a drawer. It’s from his granddaughter, and though the saying in it is simple, he can finally read it on his own and it brings a huge smile to his face (and a tear to the viewer’s eye).

These “Hallmark moments” commercials are one of the brand’s traditional pieces of marketing, but as the years have gone by, they’ve transferred to digital-only campaigns. These campaigns are still hugely successful. A 2015 campaign called #KeepsakeIt features a variety of holiday-themed videos that still tell stories, but venture into funny family moments territory. From the first-time parents fawning over their baby to the hilarity that ensues when a family tries to get a group photo, these commercials venture slightly away from the heartstrings-pulling Hallmark moments, but still tell a story that evokes emotion.

Big brands such as Hallmark have big marketing budgets, but small businesses can still learn from their success. Holiday memories and moments are a great way to market your business, as evidenced by Hallmark. Stop thinking about selling, and start thinking about the kind of stories you can tell during the holiday season, whether that be on social media, video or on an advertisement.

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