Holiday Marketing: Family Over Everything

"Is Kirsten OK? What's wrong?""Yeah mom, she's fine. Apple's Christmas commercial just came on again."While my older sister might be more sensitive than the average viewer, the type of advertising that tells a heartwarming narrative in the spirit of giving without overtly pushing a product is becoming more and more popular-especially during the holidays when everyone craves those warm, fuzzy feelings.These are the commercials shot as a montage, typically showing families and friends engaging in holiday activities like decorating the Christmas tree or sitting down for a meal together. Music echoing these family-oriented sentiments is often used to weave the story together instead of dialogue. It is visual storytelling at its finest.Apple's new spot for this year is a great example.There is no obvious product marketing, though the Apple Watch, GarageBand, and MacBook's VoiceOver accessibility features are shown briefly throughout. Some say the spot also serves to subliminally connect Apple to the music industry in efforts to increase subscriber to its new music platform.As David Messinger, vice chair of the American Advertising Federation and co-head of CAA Marketing notes, "Marketers now want to tell stories that people will want to watch, even as people, particularly millennials, deride advertising as the toll they need to pay to get to the content they want." His biggest advice for brands? Watch how Hollywood producers do it.Verizon goes a step further with its seasonal narrative, not only dropping all brash marketing tactics but encouraging customers to actually stop using their service, albeit for a little while.Similar to REI's decision to close its stores on Black Friday and encourage customers to go outside, Verizon bucked the trend with a counter-culture movement. Promoting a message that makes people feel and do good, while being different from what everyone else is saying, gets attention. And on top of that, saying something that directly goes against your own sales can build trust with current and future customers. Building this trust is more important than ever.Kohl's "Celebrate Togetherness" holiday spot for this year takes the same montage style, but with less somber, more up-beat music. And in the biggest difference of all, it features a gay couple.Not only did Kohl's create an advertisement that made viewers perceive their brand as family-centered and down to Earth, they took a stand on a social issue. That's a big bang for your public relations buck.What do you think about this type of holiday marketing? We'd love to hear in the comments below. And, if you're up for more heartfelt holiday spots, check out this list from Marketing Dive.