Holiday Ads Wrapped in Diversity

Holiday advertisements flood billboards, television channels, web banners and streaming services every winter. While togetherness, community, and family are common themes in these ads, few delve into the beauty of diversity. One of the first holiday ads to champion our differences was Coca-Cola’s reworking of its iconic 1971 “Hilltop” commercial. The Christmas version the company released in 1977 maintained a diverse cast of singers and featured them standing in the shape of a candlelit Christmas tree.

The success of Coca-Cola’s diversity ads has inspired advertisers and marketers for decades, resulting in more inclusive advertising over time. In the ’80s and ’90s, holiday ads often featured people of different ethnicities. Then, in the early 2000s, Virgin Mobile released its “Chrismahanukwanzakah” campaign, which recognized multiple religions and holiday celebrations. By the 2010s, holiday ads started to feature representations of different sexual orientations and physical abilities, as well.

2020 kicked off the decade with a strong focus on inclusion and diversity thanks to the re-emergence of the equality movement stemming from the George Floyd movement. Those themes have continued to appear in holiday creative in the years since. This year, three brands stood out for their spots, celebrating how our differences can actually bring us all closer together. Themes of togetherness and festive decor give marketing agencies a rich well of material to pull from, resulting in spots that range from emotionally touching to absurdly hilarious. Here are our top three this year.

The Kroger Company’s “Holidays: Student Exchange Program: Photograph”

This emotional 60-second television spot paints the story of a couple who spend years hosting exchange students from around the world. The various cultural backgrounds of the exchange students allow viewers to connect with the spot no matter what holidays, dishes and traditions their families celebrate during the winter months. Food has long been considered a means of connection, and this holiday spot beautifully illustrates how meals can bring people together.

Ancestry’s Holiday Campaign

Built on the tagline, “Give the gift of family heritage,” Ancestry’s holiday campaign showcases the pride families often feel when learning about their lineage. By featuring wildly different family stories —a Black cowboy raising his daughter, a Mexican family repping nameplates and lowriders, and a white family joking at an LSU tailgate — Ancestry sheds light on the assortment of culture and traditions passed down from generation to generation. This campaign truly encourages viewers to forge emotional connections with those who came before them and celebrate all the things that make their families unique.

Montefiore’s “Solo’s Holiday Story”

Located in the Bronx, Montefiore Medical Center released a short film honoring the ways kids enjoy New York City’s magic during the holidays. Through the eyes of Solo, a young boy with cerebral palsy, viewers go on an adventure where they meet kids of different abilities and backgrounds as they transcend physical obstacles to connect and enjoy each other’s company. Montefiore’s film showcases how the joy and goodwill inherent in the holiday season can foster a connection with those around us.

From the ’70s to today, all these advertisements approach diversity in different ways while ultimately relaying the same message: Everything that makes us different allows us to connect with and learn from others.

Have you seen or worked on any advertising campaigns celebrating diversity this holiday season? Share links to your work and your favorites in the comments below!

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