Celebrities, Rewards, & Tributes — Holiday Ads Are Back In Full Force For 2020

Nothing in our society comes with quite as many traditions as the holiday season. No matter what religion you may or may not practice, or which holidays you may or may not recognize, these traditions have become part of our culture. And when you think about it, they take just about unlimited forms.

We habitually see Christmas decorations coming out too early in outdoor malls, city squares, and suburban neighborhoods. We see bands and solo artists release holiday covers, and sometimes entire albums. Local coffee shops and chains alike start pitching wintery beverages with holiday-inspired names and flavors. And inevitably we see the release of new holiday films — some meant for families, some in the comedic vein, and even the occasional holiday slasher.

As much as these things comprise our holiday traditions though, nothing quite announces the arrival of the season like the shift we see in advertisement. Inevitably at this time of year, we start to see celebrities advertising holiday products, stores pitching reward programs and seasonal discounts, and — usually — a few touching tributes twisted into holiday ad. This season is proving no different on these fronts, so we thought we’d look into some of what we’re already seeing.

On the celebrity front, we have already seen some fairly early holiday ads as of the time of this writing. The one getting the most attention appears to be a Coach campaign in which Jennifer Lopez and Michael B. Jordan are modeling alongside their respective families. It’s a fairly classic effort to link celebrity prestige to a brand in advance of the holidays, and it’s a perfectly appealing campaign (perhaps made all the more so for some by the fact that Jordan is now the latest choice for sexiest man alive by People). The ad that really has a chance to stand out as the standout celebrity promotion of the 2020 holiday season, though, is a Capital One spot that sees actors John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson teaming up for some vague, holiday-infused Pulp Fiction references. Delightfully, this all happens while Travolta is playing the part of Santa Claus.

The rewards and promotions angles, meanwhile, comprise perhaps the busiest category of holiday ads. A handful of famous, big-name retailers such as Walmart, Macy’s, and Nordstrom can all be counted on to busily promote holiday season discounts, membership offerings, and even flash sales around this time of year (often showing off holiday-related product lines in the meantime). Rather than point to specific examples in this case though, we’ll simply note that most of the stores with the best reward programs as recognized by Groupon are participating in this type of holiday advertisement. In addition to the stores just mentioned, you’ll see the likes of Bed Bath & Beyond, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Old Navy, JCPenny, and more all making you well aware of what you may stand to save if you sign up for a program or buy into a sale.

Not to be left out of the equation, holiday tributes are already emerging in ads as well, with the most notable of the bunch being an amusing Star Wars callback from Disney+ and LEGO. Those two are partnering to produce a “LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special” film, and to promote the event, they’ve released a poster of a severed hand with a bow around it, and the note “To: Luke, From: Father.” The hand (a LEGO hand, to be clear) is a reference to the iconic film The Empire Strikes Back, and is just the sort of amusing little tribute that can help to drum up interest.

We’ll see more holiday ads to come across all of these areas. But suffice it to say 2020’s season is off to a good, traditional start on the advertising front.

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