Last year I said the 2020 holiday season would be different than all previous years because of the pandemic. 2021 holiday season seems to be another unique year, except people are mentally drained and exhausted this time. We have lost count on the number of days in lockdowns, and the flair-up waves are starting to make us seasick. This time, last year, there were 1.7 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide. Today that number is over 5.3 million and still climbing. So weary are we ready or starving to be entertained with the optimistic spirit of Christmas?
Yet, there is hope that over 4.5 million people, or 58 percent of the world’s population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Leading the world is the U.A.E., with over 92 percent of their population fully vaccinated. Canada is around 78 percent, with an extra buster shot added for extra measure.
Brands Struggle in 2021
While some brands continue to thrive, others are trying to survive, and many have failed. In 2020, U.S. corporate bankruptcies reached their worst levels in 10 years, closing retail brands like Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers, Lord & Taylor, Aldo, Lucky Brand, Pier 1, J. Crew, and True Religion, and the list goes on. Brands that kept their doors open struggled to keep their shelves full because of global supply chain issues and staff shortages—as consumers had to contend with limited choices and higher prices.
At the time of writing, the predominant COVID-19 variant separating across the world as fast as Santa travels is the worrisome omicron. Again, we face uncertainty, confusion, loneliness, frustration, and despair. A perfect time of the year for brands to help cheer us up with sufficient optimism, hope, and joy to open our wallets and purses with generosity and goodwill. Or at least that is their wish.
Only time will tell if the brand holiday commercials effectively create a magical holiday moment in an uncertain world. Did they successfully inspire the child within us all or create hope, joy, and cheer? You be the judge.
As we prepare to spend the second COVID-19 Christmas with friends and family or not, depending on local pandemic restrictions, nothing is close to “normal”— a word that should be retired. But then, hopefully, during the last twenty months, we had a chance to recalibrate what is essential to our lives by simplifying our wants and needs based on meaningful brand relationships. Still, there is a desire to move on to a brighter and more joyful future. So if these brand commercials can help spark a happy promise of a better future—it’s all worth the effort.
Holiday Branding Quiz
As a small token, I built a holiday branding quiz to test your knowledge of brands that have embraced the holiday season. So test your skills to see if you are a holiday branding expert. Good luck!