Three Takeaways from Amazon Prime Day 2022

Three Takeaways from Amazon Prime Day 2022

Amazon

Amazon has announced that Amazon Prime Day 2022 was the biggest Prime Day Event ever. Prime members purchased more than 300 million items worldwide during Prime Day 2022, which took place July 12-13. Amazon did not disclose sales results, but the 300 million items purchased was up from 250 million in 2021, and research firm Numerator estimates that spend per household neared $200, up from the high $150’s in years past. This is an impressive measure especially amid soaring inflation. So, who is buying all this stuff, what are they buying, and how are they buying? This is a significant question. The answers give advertisers clues about online purchasing behavior during inflationary times. Well, Numerator took a close look at the numbers. And they say a lot.

Women Drive eCommerce

High income, suburban women were top Prime Day 2022 shoppers. Compared to Prime Day 2021, this year’s shoppers were marginally older, and slightly more likely to come from middle or low income rural households.

Women dominate Prime Day

These figures validate why brands market to women. Women are responsible for most purchases in a typical household, and since there are 3.9 billion women in the world, marketers are eager to gain as much of their spend as possible. But marketers need to be mindful to tailor their advertising to women – for example by respecting their diversity and steering clear of tired themes (such as always depicting moms as caretakers and nurturers).

Amazon Wins by Tapping into Its Customer Base

95 percent of households knew it was Prime Day before shopping, and most learned about the event directly from Amazon. Among those who were aware of the sale, 41 percent say it was the primary reason they shopped on Amazon and another 42 percent said it was a contributing factor. And Amazon dominated the list of most popular products sold.

Amazon dominates Prime Day

These numbers underscore the power of Amazon to capitalize on its built-in customer base by promoting big ticket events to them. Amazon has successfully developed hundreds of in-house products and brands, and the company knows how to market them to Prime members.

This will pressure businesses to get out in front of big-tent sales such as Back-to-School, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday even more so than they have, especially by re-marketing and advertising to their own customers. This is especially true during inflationary times. One third of Prime Day shoppers waited to buy something until Prime Day, with another 17 percent using the event as an opportunity to stock up on sale items. On the flip side, over a fourth of Prime Day shoppers passed up a good deal on a non-necessity. Businesses will double down on special sale days in 2022, knowing that their customers may very hold out for promotional specials to maximize savings.

It’s also worth noting that Amazon didn’t dominate every product sold, with products such as Dawn Dish Soap, Frito-Lay, and Tide doing well. Businesses have learned that it’s better to join Amazon than to try and beat the retailing giant. And retailers who tried to compete with Amazon by creating their own quasi-Prime Day events did not succeed: although 54 percent of Amazon Prime customers considered buying from other retailers during Prime Day (particularly Walmart and Target) only 24 percent actually made purchases elsewhere in addition to Amazon, with about one-in-ten still considering a non-Amazon purchase at the time they were surveyed.

This is why Amazon Ads is succeeding: the company has monetized all the data it collects about its customers and developed attractive ad units for companies that want to reach them. The advertising arm of Amazon achieved 32 percent year-over-year growth in 2021, which amounted to $31.2 billion in revenue. Amazon Ads will continue to be a huge growth engine for Amazon, as more businesses try to reach the customers searching for things to buy on Amazon every day. (Amazon is now bigger than Google for product searches.)

Live Stream Shopping Is on the Rise

Amazon noted that Amazon Live Prime Day streams had more than 100 million views. Thousands of users hosted livestreams during this year’s event, Amazon said. Livestreaming makes it possible for advertisers to sell products via live demonstrations and promotions. Live shopping is especially big in China: according to eMarketer, live shopping accounted for nearly 12 percent of China’s retail ecommerce sales in 2021. Coresight Research estimates the live-stream shopping market will reach $20 billion in 2022 and grow to roughly $65 billion by 2023. Several livestream platforms have proliferated. But livestream shopping needs to be done well, with great production values and authentic, engaging personalities to connect with shoppers. This is why businesses are turning to ready-made platforms such as Amazon Live.

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TikTok and Instagram Challenge Google for Gen Z Searches

TikTok and Instagram Challenge Google for Gen Z Searches

Google Instagram TikTok

Google has a new challenger for product searches: TikTok and Instagram.

At a recent conference, a Google executive went on record as saying, “In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

This was a surprisingly candid admission from a company whose YouTube app has been battling TikTok especially for leadership in the video space. (Insider Intelligence predicts TikTok’s advertising revenue will overtake YouTube by 2024.)

Although Google is easily the world’s most popular search engine, when it comes to searches for things to buy, the company is not quite as popular. For example, Amazon is the Number One website for people to do product searches: according to a 2018 Jumpshot report, from 2015 to 2018, Amazon overtook Google in this area, with Amazon growing to claim 54 percent of product searches while Google declined from 54 percent to 46 percent. According to Marketplace Pulse, a majority of Amazon searches—78 percent, in fact—are nonbranded. Instead of pinpointing a specific company like lululemon, say, many customers are making broad searches such as “yoga pants for women” and seeing what comes up.

And we all know how easy it is to buy something on Amazon once you are done searching, right?

Well, Google has been trying to make itself a stronger destination for shopping amid Amazon’s ascendance. For instance, Google recently launched new commerce-related features such as:

  • Swipeable shopping ads in search. A new ad display pairs organic shopping results with shopping ads, which makes online shopping more visual. The new swipeable shopping feed is available for apparel brands via Search or Performance Max campaigns. These will be clearly labeled as ads and will be eligible to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page.
  • Product feeds for a shoppable YouTube experience. Advertisers will soon have the ability to connect product feeds to campaigns in order to create shoppable video ads on YouTube Shorts. With YouTube Shorts, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds, similar to how TikTok and Instagram Reels are used. Shoppable video ads on Shorts helps Google capitalize on social shopping.

The problem with Instagram and TikTok is that they appeal to the surging Gen Z population, who look especially to TikTok for recommendations for things to buy.  According to The New York Times, two-thirds of TikTok users have been inspired to shop, even if that wasn’t their original intent when accessing the app in the first place. The phenomenon has gained enough attention that it even has a hashtag: #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has garnered more than 16.7 billion views on the app.

Even more worrisome for YouTube, TikTok and Instagram are both launching social shopping tools. For instance, TikTok recently launched the TikTokShop to make it easy for people to buy things right int the app. Instagram has launched a number of tools as part of Instagram Shopping, including:

  • Instagram Checkout, which facilitates simple, convenient, and secure purchases made directly from Instagram. Shopping from Instagram means protected payment information is kept in one place. So, Instagrammers can shop multiple favorite brands without having to log in and enter intel multiple times.
  • Instagram Live, which allows checkout-enabled businesses to sell products through “live shopping.” In live shopping, consumers might be inspired by a creator or brand’s live video content and subsequently buy promoted products in real-time.

In fact, 130 million people tap on an Instagram Shopping post and engage with Instagram Checkout every month.

All told, social commerce is exploding. eMarketer predicts that by 2023, 2021, U.S. retail social commerce sales will rise to $56.17 billion.

Google is also responding to these challenges. In addition to the features noted above, the company is making search more immersive and engaging by incorporating rich visual features and augmented reality. These should help the company make the search and shopping experience livelier.

Google is making progress. Morgan Stanley says that in November 2021, 57 percent of shoppers first went to Google platforms (including Search and YouTube) to research a new product, up from 54% in May 2021. In addition, the number of Amazon Prime subscribers turning to Google for initial searches increased to 56 percent from 51 percent in the same period.

What Businesses Should Do

  • Understand your audience. Are you reaching out to Gen Z? Boomers? Not all social commerce platforms are the same. As noted, TikTok and Instagram resonates with Gen Z. Boomers tend to gravitate to Facebook. Ask yourself: who am I trying to reach, and where can I find them?
  • Learn how to use the tools available to you. Each platform has its own requirements for creating content. In addition, these popular sites demand a strong understanding of how to use visuals — anymore, it’s essential that brands know how to create powerful imagery.
  • Capitalize on Google’s advertising tools that are designed to be more visually appealing. For instance, Google recently rolled out Discovery ads, which are image-rich ads designed for a more “laid back” search experience (more about that here). Google is clearly doubling down on the visual web, and advertisers should expect more visually appealing ad products as it attempts to become a stronger e-commerce player.
  • Take a closer look at video advertising and organic content sharing, given Google’s interest in building out a more robust search experience on YouTube.

Meanwhile, TikTok and Instagram will most certainly dial up their own advertising products to attract companies that want to have their sponsored content appear alongside search results. Gear up for more ad choices!

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How Brands Collaborate with TikTok Creators

How Brands Collaborate with TikTok Creators

TikTok

Businesses have been embracing TikTok as a place to build their brands with their own content. Many more are also finding ways to connect with TikTok Nation through relationships with popular TikTok stars. A recent case in point: TikTok influencer Bella Poarch has been tapped as an HP HyperX ambassador. Now brands are figuring out how to find influencers who can actually create content such as TikTok videos for them. Creating relationships with TikTok stars can help a brand become more culturally relevant in ways they might not be able to do acting on their own. Let’s take a closer look.

How Brands Are Finding Creators

Competitions and hashtag challenges have proven to be a reliable way for brands to connect with content makers—and essentially make creators part of their marketing team. “It’s no longer about trying to get that one creator with a giant following to mention your brand once,” notes Ali Fazal, VP of marketing at influencer management platform Grin. Rather, as Fazal points out, it’s a way to “integrate the creator into their overall marketing strategy.” The trick is to find influencers who genuinely, organically, love the brand. “Creator classes” is the term that’s been coined to describe the influencer teams that result—teams that are made up of individuals with specific interests and skill sets.

Consider the 11 influencers in the Major League Baseball’s inaugural creator class, which was curated with the help of input from die-hard MLB fans. As Kathryn Buckles, the director of brand and content marketing at MLB, notes about the group,  “One is an esports player, one is more comedic. We also have someone who focuses on youth baseball, and a food creator that likes to replicate ballpark dishes.” In short, different influencers are bringing unique skills and interests to bear. As part of the relationship, creators have access to MLB merchandise and can attend games and visit the MLB offices.

For Gatorade, its creator class, called the Social Squad, came together through “tryouts” in which TikTokers submitted videos for consideration. Nine influencers were chosen from a pool of 1,500, and this select group will be creating content for Gatorade’s TikTok through November. Again, the individuals—from Clifford Taylor IV, formerly a walk-on for the Florida Gators, to Caitlyn Schrepfer, a professional soccer freestyler—bring a variety of talents and perspectives to the table.

Diverse as creator classes can be, a common thread among the influencers should be passion for the brand: super fans are naturally going to tell an authentic story. When Chipotle used TikTok to put together a 15-person creator class, for example, they were won over by Georgian Wyatt Moss, whose video showed Moss and friends eating Chipotle—in all 50 states (since Chipotle doesn’t have a location in Hawaii, Moss took his Chipotle on the plane ride out and ate it once he arrived!). Members of Chipotle’s creator class are rewarded for their passion: they are eligible for up to 50 free entrees, and can pay a visit to the Chipotle test kitchen. They also receive priority consideration for future paid campaigns—crucial to budding creators hoping to make a living as influencers.

TikTok Creator Marketplace

These brand/influencer collaborations are definitely mutually beneficial, and TikTok is invested in helping to make them happen: TikTok Creator Marketplace, currently in beta in the United States, is the official TikTok platform where brands and creators can connect. Think of it as a sort of dating app—a way for brands and influencers to “meet cute,” or at least connect in a mutually beneficial fashion. Participating creators sign up in hopes of connecting with brands and paid sponsorship opportunities. Participating brands can view creator profiles, audience demographics, and engagement metrics, then reach out to potential brand influencers via push and in-app notifications if they sense a possible match. Creators have an opportunity to review campaign details and a contract in order to make an informed decision.

Lessons Learned

Does collaborating with an influencer on TikTok make sense for your brand? Some thoughts before you proceed:

  • Make sure you already have a strong TikTok following. Brand ambassadors won’t stick around if they don’t have an audience. Alternatively, partner with a personality that comes with their own built-in following.
  • Mix it up. As the above examples indicate, a strong creator class is made up of diverse voices. Putting together an influencer team that looks at your brand from different angles or celebrates different aspects of the experience casts a wider net—and can help you reach a new, wider audience.
  • Choose creators aligned with your brand. As noted above, passion for your company will translate into authentic messaging. Take time to understand who a creator is—and whether they are the right fit—before bringing them on board.

Contact True Interactive

Hoping to explore what TikTok and other social platforms have to offer? Contact us. We can help.

Is the Microsoft Multimedia Ads Format for You?

Is the Microsoft Multimedia Ads Format for You?

Advertising Bing Microsoft

Microsoft Advertising recently launched a beta version of a new ad format, Multimedia Ads, that seeks to make ads in search results more visually appealing. This could be a useful format for lifestyle brands (especially smaller ones) that rely on the power of images to make their products. It’s also important that Microsoft Advertising clients pay close attention to how Microsoft is rolling out the feature.

What Is the Multimedia Ads Format?

The Multimedia Ads format consists of image-rich ads that appear on search results pages. With this ad format, Microsoft uses machine learning to suggest to advertisers the optimal combination of their own images, body, copy, and headlines for searches occurring on Bing. If you lack visual assets, Microsoft will auto-create them. (This is an approach similar to Google’s.) As reported in Search Engine Land,

The recommendations will use AI to speed up the launch of Multimedia Ads for your brand. If you’re not interested, you’ll have seven days to apply or dismiss recommendations. If you don’t choose either, they’ll be automatically applied. “You can also opt out of the auto-apply functionality at the account level,” according to the announcement blog.

Here’s how Microsoft explains auto-apply on its campaigns dashboard:

Multimedia Ads scree

Considerations to Keep in Mind about Multimedia Ads

Now, this ad format could be appealing to a business that lacks the time and resources to create a campaign – say, a small mom-and-pop business. And the visual format could be really appealing for brands in industries such as travel and hospitality, where images are even more important. Multimedia Ads gives such a business the means to vary their ads so long as the business does not mind giving up control to Microsoft’s AI engine to do all the heavy lifting. But as Search Engine Land notes, “The auto-recommendations mean advertisers will have to be on the lookout to make sure any tests or ads they’re launching don’t end up going in a direction they don’t want.”

In other words, the feature could create more work for a business.

Here are some caveats we have noticed as well:

It’s important that Microsoft clients check their campaigns dashboards. We have discovered instances where Microsoft activated the ad format automatically for a given campaign. It’s up to the Microsoft Advertising client to proactively uncheck the “auto-apply recommendations” features boxes (see the bottom of the image below – and note that we unchecked auto-apply recommendations):

Multimedia Ads campaign screen

In fairness, we should note that Google has also used the approach of automatically applying features to its advertising products, thus putting the burden on the client to disable a feature.

You might not like the images that Microsoft suggests. Microsoft might suggest generic and uncompelling stock images with its AI. We much prefer manually uploading our own images, where we have more control over their quality.

You might not like the ad copy that Microsoft suggests. Microsoft’s AI engine draws from past copy of yours to create new copy. But what worked for a previous ad might not apply to the one you want to run. If you carefully manage the tone of your ad copy, then the AI-generated recommendations might not be for you.

The format could make it more difficult for you to do A/B testing, as well.

Bottom line:

  • Multimedia Ads is a step in the right direction because Microsoft Advertising is dialing up the power of images during the visual age.
  • Microsoft still has work to do with the quality of the images its AI engine suggests.
  • Microsoft Advertising clients should review their campaign dashboards and uncheck the “auto-apply recommendations” options if you are not ready to use the ad format.
  • Whether you use the ad format’s AI features depends on how much control you want to hand over to Microsoft Advertising.
  • Consider using the feature but without the AI-generated recommendations.

Contact True Interactive

To make online advertising, including Microsoft Advertising, succeed for you, contact True Interactive. We help clients across multiple industries succeed online.

Photo by Afif Kusuma on Unsplash

Why Twitter Is Succeeding

Why Twitter Is Succeeding

Social media Twitter

Twitter never got the memo that predicted its failure.  As far back as 2016, pundits have been forecasting the demise of the microblogging service, citing, among other things, a lack of direction and a stagnant user base. Even when Twitter’s stock value rose in 2020, detractors dismissed the news and said the company was simply benefiting from the sudden rise of the digital economy. But this phoenix continues to rise from the ashes, and it’s time to give Twitter its due. The company has made an impressive turnaround, as evidenced by its latest earnings announcement. In fact, the company’s performance beat Wall Street expectations in many important categories.

In discussing its growth, Twitter has credited a jump in advertiser demand. Moreover, it appears as though Apple’s much-discussed privacy controls launched in 2021 are not hurting Twitter to the degree expected. Let’s take a closer look at why Twitter is succeeding.

Strong Advertising Growth

What exactly gave rise to the bump in advertising demand? The growth happened at least in part because Twitter is rolling out more features for advertisers. One example: a video tool. Per their shareholder letter, Twitter has launched a prediction model that projects the likelihood a viewer will watch a video to completion, a feature meant to meet the needs of advertisers who prioritize video completion rates. A “15-second (15s) view” bidding unit powered by the prediction model gives precedence to engaged views; according to Twitter, “Early testing has shown that [the bidding unit] drives Twitter’s highest video completion rates yet.” The data does look good: advertisers using the 15s view bid unit are seeing an 89 percent higher completion rate, at an average 25 percent lower cost per completed view.

Strong User Growth

Of course, advertisers don’t want to be on a platform unless they know a lot of people are going to congregate there; they want those eyeballs. Twitter, like any company, has to roll out new features to entice people to visit—and linger. Twitter understands this, and their actions reflect that understanding. Per CNBC, “In the [second] quarter Twitter introduced its first subscription service, which gives users access to an Undo Tweet button and other features.” Named Twitter Blue, the subscription service is meant for “power users” who are happy to pay a monthly fee in exchange for exclusive features.

Taking a cue from the success of Clubhouse, Twitter also released its Spaces live-audio chat feature on mobile devices for all users with at least 600 followers. On Spaces, users can join virtual rooms and engage in real-time audio conversations with others. In addition, a new Tip Jar feature will enable users to send money to creators on Twitter.

Notably, the new features have the potential to appeal to brands as well as individuals: consider the fact that Twitter recently signed a deal with the NFL to use Spaces commercially. The league has committed to producing content: more than 20 Spaces, or rooms, that will air around events like the draft and Super Bowl. Per Marketing Dive, the NFL “is the first sports league to offer sponsored Twitter Spaces to brands.”

News Source

It’s also worth noting the connection between Twitter and the news. In fact, brands interested in the news-oriented world are wise to consider Twitter as part of their paid social strategy. As reported by Black Bear Design, Twitter is one of the most popular platforms on the planet: 24 percent of online adults use this microblogging service. And a whopping 86 percent of Twitter users indicate that they visit the network to get their news fix, with almost three quarters of those individuals doing so every day.

Contact True Interactive

In short, Twitter keeps on finding ways to stay relevant. Is the platform a good partner for your brand’s reach? Contact us. We can advise. Learn more about our expertise with social media platforms here.

Why Triller Is a Thriller

Why Triller Is a Thriller

Mobile

Have you heard of Triller? The video-making social app has been around since 2015, but only recently has it started to show signs of becoming a genuine rival to TikTok. Should marketers care? In a word: yes. Read on to learn why.

What Is Triller?

Like TikTok, Triller is deeply connected to music; introduced as a video-editing service by co-founders David Leiberman and Sammy Rubin, Triller has always employed artificial intelligence (AI) to create music videos. But by 2016, the app had also become a social-networking service that allowed users to follow one another and share the videos they created. Today, users can film different takes of themselves rapping to songs (hip-hop is particularly popular on the app), and then use the AI to cull the best clips and make a professional-looking music video. The editing is pretty painless: as refinery29.com notes, “[Y]ou perform and the app edits your video for you.”

How Does Triller Compare to TikTok?

While similar to TikTok, Triller is trying to position itself as being all about the music. The app has raised investment from artists like Snoop Dogg, and music fans are considered the prime audience for the app. Though some critics point to the fact that Triller has recently permitted users to share a wider range of content, such as quirky videos, the fact remains that the app is music friendly. One example of the emphasis on music: Triller allows users to pull complete songs from their Apple Music or Spotify playlists, as compared to the 15 seconds allowed by TikTok.

Who’s on Triller?

As noted in Fortune, Gen Z is currently “establishing the winners and losers online,” and Triller, which has started to gain traction with Gen Z, may be one of those winners. The app has certainly been flexing its muscles of late, having poached some of TikTok’s influencers. Former TikTok creators like Josh Richards have made the switch (Richards is now also Triller’s chief strategy officer). Other former TikTok luminaries—Noah Beck, Griffin Johnson, and Anthony Reeves—have jumped to Triller and signed on as investors. And performers like Alicia Keys and Eminem have used the platform to create music videos.

Advertising on Triller

According to Digiday, “Triller’s commercial model revolves around letting influencers raise money from fans, advertisers and partnerships with music labels.” The approach can be a lucrative one. As noted in Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing allows brands to reach a young, urban audience through influencers who have already cultivated the kinds of relationships that make marketing successful.

In October, Triller also partnered with ad tech start-up Consumable to sell digital and video format ads meant to be placed between videos on the app. Mark Levin, CEO of Consumable, shared, “This is an exciting partnership given our collective focus on delivering innovative, bite-sized content. It combines Triller’s short-form entertainment with Consumable’s short-form digital advertising to deliver the first social video discovery platform on media publisher websites.” As noted in Business of Apps, the partnership will give marketers a crack at new audiences.

Also notable: advertising on the app can be nothing short of groundbreaking. E.l.f. Cosmetics, which set trends in late 2019 with an innovative TikTok campaign, redefined cool yet again in late 2020 by working with Triller. As e.l.f. CMO Kory Marchisotto noted, the cosmetics brand ended the year with “a big music bang,” partnering with Triller to release an entire holiday-themed album featuring not only danceable electronic beats but also plenty of “e.l.f.-isms.”

Meanwhile, Triller is going to do some advertising on its own in a big way: reportedly, Triller is gearing up for its first-ever Super Bowl ad.

We Recommend

There are lessons to be learned from apps like Triller, as 2021 ushers in a new era of music, advertising, and innovation. We recommend that you:

  • Don’t get complacent. Stay attuned to new apps and new ways of communicating.
  • That means staying in tune with your audience. Are you reaching out to Gen Z? Know what language they speak. As Triller demonstrates, music can be a key way to connect. And ad length may differ depending on your target market.
  • Finally, understand how relationships with influencers can elevate your brand. Influencers can get your product in front of users in an authentic and meaningful way. Think about which influencers might have an organic connection with your brand.

 Contact True Interactive

Triller, of course, is just one way to connect with audiences. Eager to expand your reach in a fresh way that rings true? Contact us. We can help.

Four Great Holiday Ads You Need to See Right Now

Four Great Holiday Ads You Need to See Right Now

Advertising

Brands face special challenges this year with holiday ads. How do you strike the right tone during a global pandemic? Is it OK to show people being together? As it turns out, people just want to see good holiday ads. A recent Ace Metrix report finds that ad campaigns referencing the reality of Covid-19 fare slightly better with viewers, but not in any meaningful way. So what does a successful ad look like this year? As the following examples attest, there are still many ways to tell a story.

Resilience and Love

Some brands, like Coca-Cola, aren’t so much depicting life during the pandemic as underlining the qualities that serve us well, good times or bad. In Coca-Cola’s global spot, a dad takes an epic journey to deliver his daughter’s letter to Santa. The ad covers a lot of ground, following Dad as he scales cliffs, swims seas, and braves snow and ice to make his delivery. The story comes full circle when Santa makes wishes come true and delivers the intrepid traveler safely home. Resilience and love screen well any time, but during a pandemic year, those themes seem to resonate more than ever.

Even Santa Gets Stressed

Xfinity, by contrast, addressed the year just past more directly. In “The Greatest Gift,” Steve Carell appears as a maxed-out Santa who takes it upon himself to wow kids the world over after an unprecedented 2020. The ad nods to 2020 realities: Santa has to videoconference with his elves, for example, at one point forgetting to take himself off Mute. When an enterprising elf suggests packaging traditional holiday cheer in a new way, the ad brings its message home: that is, technology can bring people together, even when they can’t gather in person. And Carell is an inspired Santa, grounding the spot in humor as he frets and stress-eats his way to what ends up being the perfect solution. Ultimately, “The Greatest Gift” does a masterful job of acknowledging the year just past without getting stuck in a bleak place. As Carell noted in a statement, “The holidays are really about moments of togetherness with the people you love, and serve as a reminder for what’s most important, especially given the hardships of this past year. I hope that this sweet little story will bring a bit of cheer.”

Magical Surrealism Meets Burgeoning Talent

Apple takes a slightly different tack, elevating music as the harbinger of good cheer this season. The tech company, which seems to have an eye for new talent (past Apple ads have featured artists like Billie Eilish), this year gives American rapper and songwriter Tierra Whack a platform. And Whack is a revelation, bringing charisma, whimsy, and music to the new spot for Apple’s HomePod Mini voice assistant. Two Whack songs —“Feel Good” and “Pepper and Onions”— are featured in the spot, which opens with a downtrodden Whack returning home on a cold night, and ends on a note of magically surreal color and song. The ad’s theme? Music can boost our mood. It’s a joyful, welcome reminder during a long, strange year—and a nifty introduction to an emerging talent.

If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry

Finally, check out the Match.com ad that in essence throws up its hands and says, with the kind of off-the-chain year 2020 has been, we may as well laugh rather than cry. The spot, created by Ryan Reynolds’ creative company Maximum Effort, asks what might happen if Satan met 2020 personified? Answer? The chemistry, including TP hoarding and selfies in front of a blazing dumpster, is amazing! As Reynolds said in a statement to TODAY, “Match is responsible for bringing millions of people together and even in this dumpster fire of a year, people somehow found love on Match. We just imagined what a ‘2020 match’ would look like and this video was the natural, slightly warped result.”

Realistic Optimism

It’s worth noting that these ads, while varying widely in theme and approach, do all aim for a certain north star—what Liz Matthews, senior VP of brand, creative and experiential marketing at Dell Technologies calls “realistic optimism.” The magic of these ads is that they don’t give into fear, even as they demonstrate empathy through storytelling or humor. It’s a delicate balancing act, but as Matthews notes, “It all comes down to remembering the human side of your brand. Tap into that to make sure you are delivering a message that aims to connect, not instill uncertainty.”

Contact True Interactive

Looking to establish that elusive blend of humanity and realism in your digital advertising? While striking that balance can seem like capturing lightning in a bottle, as these ads demonstrate, it’s not out of reach. Contact us. We can help.