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CPG Industry News, Field Marketing

3 Secrets to Building a Holiday Campaign That Sells All Year Long

Ah, the holidays. While the thought of colder weather may make us cringe, we are approaching the holiday season, and the excitement is real. Along with good eats and holiday parties, we can expect to see plenty of brands trying to inject the “holiday spirit” into their products in the coming months.

While there will surely be some interesting campaigns to check out, only a great campaign has the power to boost your sales long after the holiday is over. This year, break through the noise and outshine your competitors with a holiday campaign that will put your brand in the best position possible to keep up the momentum.

Unreal Candy did just that this Halloween, and are masters of unique and effective holiday campaigns. We had a chance to interview Unreal’s Billy Allen and Jeremy LeBlanc to get the low-down on how they’ve been able to develop engaging campaigns that have long-term impact. Using their Halloween campaign as an example, read on to understand the secrets to a successful holiday campaign strategy and get inspired to create your own fantastic holiday themed promotions.  

Wistia video thumbnail - Unreal Candy: How to Plan and Execute an Omnichannel Holiday Campaign

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Secret #1: Stay on Brand

When planning your holiday campaign, Jeremy and Billy agree the key is to “do enough, without doing too much.”

At Unreal, their plan involved some tweaking to their packaging to make it festive yet recognizable once the holiday has passed. You don’t want consumers to only think of your products in the context of the holiday, just as Unreal doesn’t want their candy to only be associated with Halloween.



The key to the perfect Halloween😉🗝🍫 📸 @kimmkruse

A post shared by UNREAL (@unreal.snacks) on


There will be tons of other brands competing with yours to have the best holiday campaign, so set yourself apart by getting creative while staying on brand. Consider what about your campaign will make your products memorable to consumers, and if there are things you can do to integrate the everyday messaging and branding of your product into your holiday plan. For example, if one of your brand’s values is sustainability, see how you can highlight that through some aspect of your campaign. Staying on brand will make waves and keep your product flying off the shelves well into the future.


Secret #2: Break Beyond Retail (or Digital)

Billy emphasized the need to think beyond a change of packaging or a holiday-themed display. “We’re not just saying something and going away. It’s a full 360 campaign that we created. It’s hitting on the spokesperson angle, and we got a ton of content generated out of that. ”

This means the customer experience of your promotion shouldn’t end with your physical product. In the internet age, omnichannel marketing is a must, and Unreal’s campaign gives us a first-class example of channel integration. With the help of Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady (AKA the GOAT), the candy connoisseurs created an interactive game on their website that uses codes from their Halloween packaging to help Tom navigate the galaxy and find his stolen chocolates (talk about creative, right?). They also give the buyer the potential to win an adventure with Tom by finding a key in their packaging.



Now, obviously not every brand has the access to star power that Unreal does, but the takeaway here isn’t about having a celebrity brand rep. What matters most is creative cross-channel interaction during your campaign, and this can be done in a variety of ways.

Consider a hashtag campaign to engage customers on social media, and don’t forget to use the holidays as inspiration for digital content like blogs, online ads, and other marketing tactics. Consumers will remember not just your product, but the awesome company behind it that offers more to them than your competitor. Before you know it, plenty of loyal customers will start checking back in with your brand to see what cool new content your team is rolling out next.


Secret #3: Keep an Agile Mindset

A final suggestion the guys at Unreal had to designing a successful campaign is “being mindful of key opportunities… and how [you] can really make noise around those, but without a ton of investment from a resource or bandwidth level.”

Too often, brands will jump into a new endeavor feet first without considering the fact that sometimes things just don’t go as planned. It’s important to be realistic about how much money, time, and attention you can devote to the project while developing it. A holiday campaign can be a huge undertaking, and investing too much from the start without knowing what the payoff will be can be a mistake.

In order to avoid this fumble, consider the concept of agile marketing. Being agile involves making small changes rather than large, sweeping strokes, and then examining the data that you can collect from each step. This way, you can make adjustments to your campaign as you go and safeguard your brand from wasting resources on something that won’t have an ROI that is worth the effort. At Unreal, using real-time data allows them to test things out and get immediate results. Billy explained why this is so helpful, saying “we have an idea, we try it out, then the next day, if it worked we double down and if it didn’t do something else.”


Key Takeaways

Jeremy summed things up pretty well for us when he said “it’s about finding the right mix -- making waves in the industry, selling your products -- but not doing too much.” The holidays are obviously an awesome opportunity to gain the attention of new and existing customers, but a holiday campaign brings with it a lot of complexity. Having a plan that will come full circle is the only way to make sure your brand can revel in the success of your campaign once it’s over.

If you maintain agility, create both in-person and virtual content, and hold on to your brand’s overall message, you are bound to pull off a holiday campaign that will have lasting positive effects as your brand continues to grow.

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Melissa Sonntag

Melissa is a recent graduate of Northeastern University and a content marketing specialist at Repsly, Inc. She is committed to applying her skills in order to bring value to Repsly readers and customers. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, making music, and anything dog-related.

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