What do we mentally associate with the end of one year and the arrival of a new one? A question that all those who are preparing a truly effective new year advertising campaign must seek to answer. This is not an easy task at all, as the new year quite commonly follows a bit behind Christmas. Is there any way to differentiate effectively? There certainly is - just look at the phenomenon of new year's resolutions or the trend for massive discount promotions. But the new year in general has so much more to offer…
How to get away from Christmas?
New Year's ads have one specific problem, namely that they are largely overshadowed by Christmas, to which popular brands and consumers attach more relevance. Large retail chains, such as Walmart in the US, even combine Christmas and New Year's in their strategies - overall, these are marketing campaigns for the so-called holiday season. This simply means that the Christmas ethos is largely reflected in the period immediately following Christmas.
Moreover, the New Year does not have such obvious identifiers as decorations, jingle bells or Santa Claus. What it does have is a celebratory atmosphere. New Year's Eve is traditionally associated with exuberant celebrations, often accompanied by alcohol. There are examples of TV commercials where a proven brand has managed to combine this atmosphere with some of the major celebrities. In this style, for example, the American rapper and producer Diddy became the New Year's Eve face of Ciroc vodka. But such ads have only limited validity - and perhaps despite the craftsmanship, they are not exactly motivational or educational.
Video: Ciroc The New Year with Diddy
Considerably less controversial, then, is the phenomenon of post-Christmas and New Year's sales. These are the ones that all offline and online retailers try to attract attention to in the first place. The identity of TV commercials during this period is also in this vein - they are short, punchy spots that are built primarily on numbers. Their purpose is to impress their potential customers with breathtaking discounts. These discounts often reach up to 50% of the value. To a certain extent, they are a follow-up to November's Black Friday - but even in the technology segment they are often able to surpass it.
Video: New Year’s discount ad (example) - Kane's Furniture
New Year’s resolutions still have their appeal
Traditional New Year's resolutions are a big theme in post-Christmas advertising campaigns. This is undoubtedly true in the TV environment as well. People are generally more motivated to keep these promises to themselves as the New Year approaches. So the goal for marketers is to capture them before this initial enthusiasm has completely worn off. A survey conducted by Quicken in 2019 shows that more than 56% of those who make resolutions regularly are willing to spend money on them. And that's something that creators of more than just TV ads should be aware of.
What are these resolutions most often about? There is a big triad - health and fitness, finance, lifestyle. And the amount of money spent may not be insignificant at all. 12.5% of respondents admit to being willing to spend between one and five thousand dollars. But of those, nearly half are willing to invest at least one hundred to five hundred dollars in New Year's resolutions. Considering how many people these findings may apply to, this is certainly not a trend that can be ignored.
Video: New Year, New Goals, New You / 2022
The fundamental message that marketers are trying to convey is that it just works. A message that motivates, persuades, affirms... that's exactly the kind that should resonate most strongly in New Year's campaigns. This is especially evident in the aforementioned fitness segment.
Fit and healthy in the new year
American fitness centre operator Planet Fitness has tackled this challenge in 2018 in its own way. Humour and humanity were important ingredients, along with the message that no one will judge you even if you fail. The commercials depict individuals being judged for their actions by someone else; whether it's a 42-year-old man considered a senior citizen, a failed job seeker or someone who falls through the floor just stepping on the scale. The world judges, but Planet Fitness doesn't - which is why it's the perfect partner to work with on fulfilling resolutions.
Video: Planet Fitness Bring on the New Year
Another similarly focused chain, Blink Fitness, worked with a similar message. This one even went a step further - everyone should primarily strive to be happier in life and feel less guilty, both in and out of the gym. On the one hand, the spot downplays resolutions, saying they are often too draconian and unrealistic. On the other hand, it promotes the idea of setting goals that we should be working towards. This, he says, is the path to a happy life. And again - advertising is all about inspiring, not undermining. Resolutions are in our own hands and do not in themselves define us.
Video: Blink #ResolutionHappy
Other common themes are also emerging. People quite often make resolutions related to their health. They want to lose weight or stop smoking, for example. Companies that have something to say about this are working with these desires and motivations, and not only through television. It is characteristic of the New Year period that companies are racing to create all kinds of creative content. To some extent, TV ads are thus supported by specific online content. For example, Virgin Active launched its own collection of emojis designed for those who want to lose weight to mark the start of a new year in 2016. There are simply no limits to New Year’s creativity.
A time to take stock of all we’ve been through
But the end of the year doesn't necessarily have to be focused only on the future. Many of us also like to take stock. And it makes sense that the service providers that have become an integral part of our lives have this tendency too. Every year is memorable in its own way, which is not necessarily only in a good way. But when is there a better opportunity to look back on the past one with hindsight than with the arrival of the New Year?
Video: Google Year in Search 2021
Google is undoubtedly an integral part of almost everyone's life. It's with us virtually every day in our personal and professional lives. That's why the company always makes its own "Year in Search" video at the end of the year, recapping the year's highlights in correlation with its own user search statistics. This model thus essentially fulfils several roles - it is entertaining, informative, nostalgic and, to a large extent, sentimental. It's just the right recipe to hit the emotions at the end of the year.
Video: YouTube Rewind 2021
Google may be the most famous example of these lookbacks, but it's certainly not the only one. Other companies are working with a similar de facto advertising concept. YouTube, for example, has its "Rewind" where it ranks the most trending videos from the past year. Spotify does the same thing with its artist listenership and popularity reports, which it also personalises for each user. The creator of creative online videos and photo montages, JibJab, has also had its "Year in Review" for several years. The company always submitted an original animated video in the spirit of its own montages, plus an original song, towards the end of the year. The videos, which were released between 2005 and 2014, were very popular. It is therefore no wonder that in 2020, JibJab was struck by the challenges of the fans and for this one year, exceptionally, decided to revive this playful tradition.
Video: JibJab Year in Review 2020
Formats like this shape the user's relationship and emotional state with a particular brand that is intertwined with their lives. Today, the audiovisual bond does not have to be created only through television. On the contrary, in the age of the boom of streaming services and online TV, it is logical that these bonds will be built in an original and subliminal way directly in the environment of popular online applications.
One of the most prestigious sponsorship messages
Other ways to make your brand more visible in the widely watched New Year's broadcast are in many ways similar to classic product placement. The US news channel CNN convinced us of how to work with this concept on New Year's Eve 2018. In doing so, it used its proven countdown clock model. It had already associated this with other closely watched live events. However, on New Year’s Eve, it gave them a new dynamic - and succeeded in breaking down many taboos that are particularly noticeable in the context of news broadcasts.
Video: CNN New Years Eve Live Trailer 2018
"New Year's Eve is traditionally about people coming together to celebrate with friends and family. We are delighted to contribute to this tradition by partnering with CNN. This has allowed us to become the first ever sponsor of its countdown, and to further share with its loyal viewers the additional narratives that will run during the commercial breaks,” Ken Grayson, head of media marketing at Farmers Insurance, enthused at the time. Indeed, it was this American insurance group that reached CNN viewers in this way for the first time in 2018.
The execution was indeed as Grayson described it. The Farmers Insurance logo and sponsor dedication appeared on screen anytime before midnight alongside a clock face keeping track of the time remaining until midnight. During commercial breaks, creative spots from Farmers Insurance ran, providing viewers with additional narration and giving more information about the group itself and its activities. Additionally, after midnight, another brand was added - this time, instead of an on-screen social feed sponsor, the producer of Ciroc luxury vodka took the spotlight.
Video: Interview with Lindsay Lohan with visible FI sponsor dedication
More importantly, this collaboration proved that the New Year is ideal for such messages. The news aspect is toned down during the New Year's Eve broadcast - the production is designed to be mainly entertaining, nostalgic and generally aimed at emotions. Therefore, there is no risk of problems similar to, for example, elections or classic linear broadcasts. The sponsor's logo is far less likely to appear next to a headline with which it fundamentally disagrees, or alongside a catastrophic news story or controversial political opinion. CNN - and that same year, similarly, rival Fox News, in partnership with sponsor Michigan's Hillsdale College - proved that key dates exist when these mischiefs can be avoided.
West vs. East
A very specific category - perhaps more of an icing on the cake - are ads designed to celebrate the New Year in a way not quite as we all know it. In this respect, the annual campaigns for Chinese New Year, which traditionally falls between 21 January and 10 February, come to the fore. Tradition is indeed a key word in this context - along with the ideals of cultural diversity, travel enthusiasm and mythical ancient Chinese themes, combined with pop culture themes.
Video: My Grandmother's House - Singtel
Moreover, by the time Chinese New Year rolls around, Christmas has almost been forgotten. And so it's also time to celebrate on our TV screens the holiday of lights, lanterns, flying dragons, pop culture symbols... and in short, everything else we don't often associate with the Western civilization. With most global brands striving for cosmopolitanism, it's perhaps not surprising that multinational corporations like Coca Cola and Adidas are also contributing their bit to the mill in these foreign New Year celebrations.
Video: Chinese New Year 2019 - Coca Cola
Although Chinese New Year is not usually associated with the idea of boisterous booze-fests with friends, it once again gives marketers a chance to reach out to large audiences who sit down at the same table and celebrate with family on this occasion. In essence, the classic narratives of Chinese New Year are reminiscent of our traditional Christmas. On our television screens, it is once again a celebration of human togetherness, closeness, generosity and, above all, respect for the most important people in our lives.
So while in the Western version we think of New Year as something mundane, in the East they have a very different take on it. For them, the beginning of the year is simply the right time for emotional investment.