Advertising Strategies and Lessons


Amazon, Kohls And Peloton Rely On Digital Channels This Holiday Season

November 9, 2020 Erin Sweeney

Shutterstock_745885195 Women sitting on the blue sofa by the christmas tree and using tablet

This year, when many families will have different holiday experiences, Amazon, Kohls, Etsy and Peloton are tugging on heartstrings with emotionally moving holiday ads that celebrate personal connections and community. These major brands are also leaning on digital channels to amplify their holiday advertising and inform customers about seasonal promotions, many of which are starting earlier than normal. In a year when ecommerce is expected to dominate, Amazon, Kohls, Etsy and Peloton are working hard to ensure shoppers have the same joyful holiday experiences as in years past.

Amazon Showcases Beauty And Grit With New Commercial Amplifying Ecommerce 

In an effort to encourage a safe and festive holiday season, Amazon is using its holiday advertising campaign to encourage pandemic-weary consumers to rely on creativity and heart. Amazon’s holiday ad, “The Show Must Go On,” features a ballerina who has earned the lead role in the winter show. When the show is cancelled due to the pandemic, her family gathers the supplies, with help from Amazon, to host a showing in the street outside of her home. Her neighbors watch from their windows as she puts on a magical performance. Amazon has gained praise for the empathetic and moving ad from artists who have been challenged to continue their art in these uncertain times. Additionally, French ballerina Taïs Vinolo, who stars in the ad, believes that by showcasing a Black teen like herself in the elite world of ballet, the ad has added cultural significance during a time when many in the U.S. are fighting for racial justice.

The advertisement also connects with a wider audience who have mourned the cancellation of potentially transformative events this holiday season. “Our holiday campaign is inspired by, and pays tribute to, the unbeatable human spirit and the power of community that we have witnessed so often this year,” said Simon Morris, vice president of global creative at Amazon. 

A Bizrate Insights survey from September 2020 showed that 48% of shoppers intend to make half or more of their online holiday gift purchases on Amazon, and Amazon is working to give consumers a multitude of options to do that. Amazon’s Prime Day kicked off the ecommerce holiday season in October, and it was the best on record since the annual event started in 2015. Prior to the event, Amazon released holiday gift guides for categories that have been popular during the pandemic, including electronics, toys and home goods. Amazon has not announced its plans for Black Friday or Cyber Monday yet, but if last year is any indication, they will begin well before the Friday after Thanksgiving and continue into December. The company will announce upcoming sales events through multiple digital channels. Although Amazon had shipping delays early in the pandemic, the company said that they have added capacity and hired 175,000 new employees to meet demand and improve delivery speed. 

Kohls Is Making Digital & Human Connections This Holiday Season 

Like Amazon, Kohls is counting on its omnichannel digital marketing this year to boost sales. The retailer is appealing to emotion in its heartfelt holiday ad, “Give With All Your Heart,” which features a little girl who befriends an older neighbor by posting written greetings in her window.  The two share some ups and down throughout the holiday, with the holiday spot ending on a hopeful note. The commercial is set to Willie Nelson singing “Rainbow Connection.” “What customers want right now is connection,” said Greg Revelle, chief marketing officer at Kohls. Kohls will be focusing its advertising on digital channels this year and longer narrative ads, like “Give With All Your Heart,” at 90 seconds, works well on digital platforms according to Revelle.

Black Friday, for retailers like Kohls with brick-and-mortar stores as well as online platforms, will look different this year. The physical stores are closed on Thanksgiving, and although they are opening at 5 a.m. on Black Friday, the company plans to make Black Friday Week deals available both on and in store to allow customers to shop however they feel most comfortable this holiday. The company is also advertising its continued in-store fulfillment options like buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) and contactless, curbside pickup.

Etsy Touches Hearts With Sweet Commercials While Relying On Digital Strategies For Sales

Etsy, the ecommerce platform for handmade goods, has released a series of sweet and sentimental holiday ads featuring the “just right” gift to make people feel connected this year. A grandmother receives a handmade pillow doll from her grandson and he tells her to hug it whenever she misses him. A girl with a unique name that everyone gets wrong, even her teacher on Zoom, is given a personalized necklace from her mother. A man who feels insecure about meeting his boyfriend's family for the first time is given an ornament with both partners’ names on it. The ads will run on broadcast and connected TV, podcasts and TikTok.

The growth of ecommerce during the pandemic and Etsy’s investment in digital marketing has been paying off. In a press release, the company announced a revenue growth of 128%. “Consumer shopping habits have been greatly influenced by the events of 2020, and Etsy truly stands for something different. We've been able to sustain growth by driving retention and frequency of our existing buyers as well as becoming an important shopping destination for new buyers. While early, our incremental investments in product and marketing – specifically focused on search and frequency – are driving improvements in the customer experience,” said Josh Silverman, CEO at Etsy, Inc. 

The unique ecommerce site launched its first Black Friday Sale in 2017 and will continue the tradition this year. Etsy is also using its mobile app to alert users about holiday sales events, new items added to the site, current tracking updates and live chats with sellers. And, Etsy gift guides include a “Ready to Ship” list for customers who need a speedy delivery as well as traditional categories organized by audience and price.

Peloton Focuses On Their Digital Community

Peloton is reaching out to its digital community this holiday season with the ad “We All Have Our Reasons,” which features real members of the Peloton community, including a former football player dad, a teacher, a golfer and a German mom of teenagers. The ad celebrates Peloton’s ability to bring people together online to form a community around online athletics, building on the brand’s community features such as “Tags” to connect to online groups, digital high fives to support others in the class, Here Now to see how many other riders are riding with you, Following Friends to follow specific members, Video Chatting to connect with others in the class via video and a Facebook group to form friendships. The company states, “Even if you’re alone at home, stay inspired and sweat it out with other Members from all over the world.” The holiday campaign is Peloton's largest ad spend to date and follows the fitness brand’s efforts to make Peloton products more accessible with lower priced versions of its popular stationary bikes, treadmills and classes.

Peloton has had a significant increase in demand for its products and digital services during the pandemic, as Americans continue to seek out at-home fitness options. Delivery delays have been a challenge for the fitness company as they struggle to meet the rapid rise in demand for products. Peloton has yet to make an official statement on 2020 Black Friday; but will likely rely on digital memberships to make up for shipping delays that could cause revenue issues. Subscribers to the Peloton app jumped by 94% in Q2 2020, and the company is now offering a free 30-day trial to gain new members. Digital membership offers a variety of live and on-demand workout videos with options that do not require a bike including cardio routines, yoga classes and guided meditation. Peloton is also offering content on its blog to help members of their community stay fit this holiday season. 

As consumers move into a holiday season changed by the pandemic, digital channels will be an integral way that brands and shoppers communicate, connect with others and shop. The emotionally powerful holiday campaigns from Amazon, Kohls, Etsy and Peloton celebrate personal connection and creating joy, and the ecommerce focused digital strategies these brands are amplifying this year are positioned to facilitate strong sales and brand engagement.

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About the Author

Erin Sweeney

Erin Sweeney is a freelance writer and professional educator. Throughout her 12 years of experience in secondary education, she has taught advanced composition, business communications and research methodology. Erin has a keen interest in psychology and the science of motivation. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature from Saint Anselm College and a Master’s in Education from Plymouth State University. Through research and writing, Erin contributes to DMS Insights with informative articles surrounding the digital and performance marketing industries.

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