The kids were barely home from trick or treating when the first holiday ad was shown on TV this year. For retailers, marketers and ecommerce stores, the competition over the holidays is extreme. Already, Walmart, Target and Verizon have spent the most on holiday TV ads, with holiday ad spending up 13.7 percent.

These days, there’s more to advertising than just television, though. Modern brands must now balance their marketing efforts between more channels and marketplaces, including social media, Amazon, Google shopping and inside physical store locations.

While your business almost certainly doesn’t have the $66.4 million that Walmart has to spend on ads, it’s still important to be competitive in your niche. Below are some of the best holiday ads of 2016 so far, and hopefully they will provide you with some of the inspiration you need to run a long-lasting holiday tradition.

Top Holiday Ads of 2016

Starbucks Red Cups

When the red cups return, it’s a true sign that the holidays are near. Since 1997, Starbucks has introduced a signature red cup that embraces the holiday spirit. The designs have ranged from whimsical to nostalgic, but this year is one of a kind. Thirteen different designs created by customers are featured on the cups. You can meet the creators of the designs here.

So where did the idea for customer-designed coffee cups come from? Over the years, Starbucks has watched customers use their coffee cups as canvases. From white to red, customers have scribbled, written and drawn on their cups, leaving behind truly inventive works of art.

Last December, Starbucks asked customers to share their designs on Instagram. After thousands of entries, 13 designs from six different countries made the cut. A shared spirit for the holiday season is what Starbucks is hoping to achieve. The company also launched a #RedCupContest in 2014 and 2015.

Macy’s ‘Believe’ Campaign

Macy’s ‘Believe’ campaign has remained strong over the years. In fact, the company cites the many advantages to believing in Santa on their website, such as increased cognitive development and strengthened family ties.

This year, Macy’s heartwarming #SantaProject campaign is keeping the spirit of Santa alive for all children. The retailer is asking people from across the globe to show that they believe by posting a video, like, share, tweet or retweet with #SantaProject.

Additionally, Macy’s is working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes to children with serious health problems. For every letter written to Santa, Macy’s will donate $1 up to $1,00,000. If you’re interested in writing a letter and helping out a great cause, start the process here.


Giving Tuesday has been going strong for 5 years. It’s celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving each year with the intent of jumpstarting the charitable season. This year knocked every other year out of the park. The company stated that it received roughly 1.6 million in donations from nearly 100 countries, totalling $168 million, up from $117 million last year.

Giving Tuesday is all about promoting charity, and what better time to do it than coming off Thanksgiving, the holiday where we’re supposed to be most grateful for what we have. Of course, Thanksgiving quickly becomes old turkey when everyone leaves to score the best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday brings us back to that humble state and encourages all types of donations, volunteerism and acts of kindness.

Kate Spade’s #missadventure

In 2014, Kate Spade launched “The Waiting Game”, a shoppable video campaign that featured Anna Kendrick. Kendrick was sitting outside her locked apartment, passing the time. With a highly relatable situation, users immediately felt connected to the story.

The two-minute format gave users the chance to shop various Kate Spade looks and retrieve behind-the-scenes footage. The interactivity of the ad was a huge hit, and it appropriately appealed to quirky females.

With the success of the first video, it’s only expected that Kate Spade would continue with another mini-series of its kind. #Missadventure Season 2 features Miss Piggy and Zosia Mamet. The videos are immensely fun and entertaining, plus contain a dose of nostalgia. The most recent installment is Episode 3 and features the two going up in an elevator.

As you watch the ad – which is roughly three-and-a-half minutes long – you get a cute story, familiar characters and a whole lot of Kate Spade clothes and accessories. There are also interactive elements that allow you to check out styles similar to what is shown in the video. This is how video marketing should be done!

We hope that these holiday marketing campaigns have given you some inspiration for your own brand. The best ads have a lasting impact and are talked about for months and years down the road, potentially creating fresh campaigns and new movements that pushes brands further into the marketplace.