REGGIE Awards Recognize Excellence in Holiday and Seasonal Marketing

By Morgan Strawn

Seasons and holidays offer marketers opportunities to craft messages that chime with the cultural moment and thereby resonate more widely. Just think how a few animated polar bears not only made Coca-Cola more visible during the holiday season, but indeed made us anticipate the brand's appearance on our TV sets from year to year whenever the snow began to fall. Or how Budweiser's emblematic Clydesdales evoked a harmonious blend of seasonal cheer and vivid branding as they trotted across our screens pulling a wagon laden with Christmas trees.

To successfully pull off such efforts, brands need to demonstrate tact, innovative thought, and a clear and penetrating understanding of their place in the zeitgeist. Several REGGIE Award winners from 2022 give us excellent illustrations of how it's done.


Jameson SPTO

In some cases, a brand's connection with a holiday is natural and well-established. For instance, there are few more fitting pairings than Jameson's Irish whiskey and St. Patrick's Day. The brand, recognizing that many people weren't taking their allotted time off from their jobs because of the pandemic, strove, in 2022, to embed itself more deeply with the occasion with a campaign that urged Americans to use their paid time off to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Jameson's even coined a hashtag to promote the effort on social media: #JamesonSPTO (for Jameson St. Patrick's Time Off).

Those who pledged to take #JamesonSPTO were entered to win $50 for St. Patrick's Day festivities and to trigger a $50 "tip" to the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation, complementing a $150,000 donation.

Celebrity partners Retta (of Good Girls and Parks & Recreation) and Joe Lo Truglio (of Brooklyn 99) amplified the campaign via video and through social media by playfully educating fans on what SPTO was and convincing them that they deserved time off on March 17.


Sun-Maid's Haunted House

While there are occasions that naturally invite a brand tie-in, there are also occasions whose opportunities a brand may feel excluded from — may even, on the surface, seem to be forbidden from exploiting by virtue of its cultural associations. However, with enough imagination, even these no-go zones can be turned into areas of promise.

Consider the case of Sun-Maid raisins. The dried fruits might be enjoyed as a sweet and healthy snack 364 days of the year, but on Halloween, they're dreaded by trick-or-treaters who hope instead for candy from the houses that they visit. Sun-Maid humorously leaned into this repellant reputation, figuring that it made its product the scariest on a holiday that celebrated all scary things.

To amplify this resonance with Halloween, Sun-Maid built a haunted house, complete with a live zombie-armed sampling wall, a dead products graveyard that featured headstones with names like "raisin toothpaste" and "rehydrated dried fruit," and an eight-foot-tall raisin monster that was aptly named the Monster of San Joaquin Valley.


Heineken B.O.T.

Some products may have a natural association not just with a specific holiday, but with a whole season. When looking for a refreshing beverage during the summer, for instance, many consumers turn to a cold beer. This seasonal affinity with the product can make it difficult for individual beer brands to stand out as they all compete for attention from June to August.

Heineken took the unusual step of distinguishing its brew with technology: specifically, the Heineken B.O.T. (Beer Outdoor Transporter). This interactive robot was designed to make it easier, and much more entertaining, for beer drinkers to transport beer on outdoor adventures as they enjoyed the summer. The mobile cooler was created to hold a 12-pack of Heineken cans, follow its owner anywhere, and even respond to voice commands.


Bud Light Seltzer Limited-Edition Cans

If a brand's ambitions are too expansive to be met in a single season, it may consider a multi-season effort, as Bud Light Seltzer did. The brand promoted itself across several seasons with special limited-edition can designs. Summer featured cans with a tie-dye design; in fall, they wore the plaid patterns of traditional flannel shirts; and in winter, the cans' designs evoked the seasons' notorious "ugly sweaters."

Ace Hardware's Some Day

Sometimes, no existing occasion provides the right pretext for achieving the particular marketing objective a brand has in mind; in those cases, the brand may need to invent its own holiday, as Ace Hardware did. Recognizing how many people were planning a painting project for "someday," Ace gave them a friendly deadline by making Some Day a real occasion with a specific date — April 3, 2021.

Social media influencers were sent Some Day kits and engaged to show how they were taking on their own Some Day projects while encouraging their followers to do the same and share their stories. And just to remove all obstacles to completing Some Day projects, Ace arranged to provide babysitting services through Sitter City, as well free delivery of paint and supplies.

Whether your brand is working to resonate with an existing holiday or season or inventing its own occasion to celebrate, it can often be helpful to consider the work of fellow marketers wrestling with similar challenges as a path to inspiration.

Valuable sources of this inspiration can be found throughout ANA's catalog of REGGIE case studies, whose scope goes far beyond seasonal marketing, addressing a wide variety of topics, such as influencer marketing, content marketing, and experiential marketing, just to name a few. For a full list of these case studies, just click here.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Morgan Strawn is a senior manager of editorial and content development at ANA.