Villing & Company

If Every Day Could Be Christmas: Why Limit Feel-Good Advertising to the Holidays?

The other day I saw a new commercial from Toyota. Perhaps you’ve seen it. It was about a big old tree being taken down on a family farm. There were initials presumably carved in the tree many years ago by young couple. That same couple had since grown much older and their adult children decided to make a beautiful table out of the section of the tree with the initials as a thoughtful Christmas present.

In the :30 version, there’s no mention of Toyota in the spot, just a subliminal shot of a Toyota pick-up and the closing logo graphic. My first reaction was nice spot, but what does this have to do with Toyota? Then I pushed my cynicism aside and realized this kind of feel-good branding has become woefully absent in recent years. In an ROI obsessed marketing world, no one wants to do “soft” advertising anymore. And that is unfortunate because the most powerful brand messages are those that touch an emotional chord with potential consumers.

In fairness, we do see more feel-good advertising during the holiday season. A few other examples I’ve seen lately are the Macy’s lighthouse commercial. And if you haven’t seen this one from HP, get the tissues out. Sure, the holidays are the ultimate feel-good time of year, but why limit this kind of powerful storytelling to the Christmas season? 

When I first got into the business, one of the major ad agencies famously said, “It’s not creative unless it sells.” It’s hard to argue that logic, but I have always felt there was a corollary to that statement which is “It won’t sell unless it’s creative.” I’ve written many times previously about the decline of creativity in marketing communications in general and advertising specifically. It seems, in our rush to be get messages out as expeditiously and cost effectively as possible, we’ve lost sight of the role of creativity and the impact it can have in building emotional connections for our brands.

I believe it is fair to say these are stressful times. Part of it has to do with the political environment. Another part can be attributed to the impact of technology. Everything seems to be moving faster and is more complicated. I believe many consumers long for simpler times and opportunities to slow down and appreciate the joys of family, friends, pleasant memories and special relationships. We just want some reasons to feel good.

Maybe, just maybe, more feel good advertising can help consumers feel a little better. About themselves, their world – and, yes, the brands that help them feel that way.


As we wrap up the holiday season and enter the new year with cautious optimism and anticipation, all of us at Villing & Company wish all of you much joy and good fortune.

Filed Under: Branding, Marketing, Holiday

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