Originally published in MediaPost.


Recently, one brand’s holiday ad was on everyone’s mind: Peloton.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the exercise equipment brand released a holiday campaign depicting a husband gifting his wife a Peloton bike for Christmas and her subsequent fitness journey over the following year.

Not long after airing, the ad set the Internet ablaze, with people on Twitter claiming it to be sexist and out of touch,  and accusing Peloton of promoting unhealthy views of body image and marital dynamics.

Meanwhile, I was watching other 2019 holiday campaigns. And I’m happy to share: There are fun, festive and feel-good ads available for your viewing pleasure! Here are two of my favorites, why I believe they resonate, and what we can learn from them as digital marketers.

To showcase how Xfinity’s products can connect people during the holidays, the ad reunites two beloved movie characters — E.T. and Elliott — from Steven Spielberg’s 1982 movie “E.T.”

In the spot, present-day Elliott (played by the original actor Henry Thomas all grown up with a family) teaches E.T. the new technology that has been developed on warth since they last saw each other, before E.T. heads back to outer space.

Why does this ad resonate? 

One word: nostalgia. The commercial remains true to the original film – down to recreating the flying bicycle scene – which consumers admire. On top of that, the ad effectively conveys the brand’s message of connection loud and clear. There’s no question or confusion after watching.

What can we learn as digital marketers? 

Nostalgia marketing remains powerful – especially during the holiday season. As this time of year sparks memories and traditions for consumers, brands can leverage by creating nostalgic-centric content.

Frito-Lay’s “Favorite Things”

Pepsi-Co’s Frito-Lay brings all things Christmas (and snacking) into this powerful ad. With rewritten lyrics set to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” and actress Anna Kendrick as the star, the ad showcases Pepsi-Co’s family of snack brands in one festive, cinematic experience.

Why does this ad resonate? 

Who doesn’t love a cheerful, musical number this time (or any time, really) of year? Incorporating a classic song like “My Favorite Things” was a smart choice, as its tune is recognizable to most. And similar to Xfinity, nostalgia goes a long way with consumers.

What can we learn as digital marketers? 

Market research and knowledge of your brand’s target audience are everything. According to Mondelez International’s 2019 State of Snacking report, millennials are opting for snacks over meals to reflect their modern lifestyle, and as holiday parties and family gatherings ramp up this time of year, Frito-Lay chose the perfect time to promote its snackable food options.

So as you look toward 2020 marketing, use these holiday ads as a source of creativity for your brand: Find the message, communicate it clearly and spark an emotional connection.