After several years of yanking on holiday heartstrings, the best retailing ads this season played it for laughs instead, with comical spots topping the National Retail Federation's list of favorite ads.
"You can really feel the change of tone," Mike Gatti, executive director of the NRF's Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, tells Marketing Daily. "Last year was a difficult year, and so the ads were very nostalgic. This year, they are all a little more cheery. The stores are looking for a different way to tap into the consumer psyche."
The trade association's survey, conducted by BIGresearch, included more than 9,100 adults, and found that comedy made the biggest impression, with the lighthearted Target spots bumping Walmart out of first place, and Macy's celebrity-filled comic ads jumping into third place. Other companies in the top 10: Best Buy (#4), Kmart (#5), Sears (#6), Old Navy (#7), Kohl's (#8), JCPenney (#9) and Toys R Us (#10).
The survey also asked whether ads motivated viewers to shop at stores with appealing ads. And while 16.8% said they were motivated to shop at these stores, 33.5% said since they shopped at these stores anyway, the ads had no impact.
The poll also asked people to name their favorite online holiday promotion, and while Amazon came in first, brick-and-mortar brand names were overwhelming favorites: Walmart came in second, followed by Target, Kohl's and Best Buy. In the case of online ads, 22% say they were motivated to shop there, while 27.7% said they already did so.
"Amazon is the exception here," he says, "and we've all been saying that the multichannel approach gives stores an advantage because it gets you in front of the consumer in so many different ways. What's changing is that increasingly, the people who run the store Web sites are not 100 miles away in a garage full of Twinkies anymore -- they are evolving, integrating into all aspects of marketing, and everything facing the customer. We are seeing the results of that."
While humor dictated their favorite TV spots, values affect their favorite method, with 42.3% saying that coupons most influence their store choices, followed by advertising inserts (24.3%) and word of mouth (23.3%). But broadcast TV did gain a smidge in influence, at 22%, squeaking by direct mail (19.7%.) Advertising in social media was seen as influential by 4.6% of respondents.