How Brands Use Visual Storytelling to Spread Holiday Cheer


The holiday season means family gatherings, good cheer and a heavy dose of advertising as retailers try to capitalize on the busiest shopping period of the year. Although many businesses stick to traditional TV, print and digital calls to action in the run-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many brands are getting increasingly sophisticated with their advertising campaigns. Consequently, the holidays are getting as big as the Super Bowl when it comes to brands unveiling creative advertising. This year, a number of companies are taking some interesting approaches to storytelling through video content that lends itself to multiple media, ranging from TV to digital. Here are some examples of visual storytelling that can teach anyone in events and communications how to capture the attention of an audience:

Harvey Nichols Takes on “Britalia”

In a world where brands rely upon emotion to reduce grown men and women to blubbering tears of happiness around the holiday season, Harvey Nichols is taking an alternative approach this year. Raw, blatant materialism is the focus of the British department store’s latest campaign, and it’s dragging Italian Christmas traditions along with it – kicking and screaming, as the recently released “Britalia” video would lead you to believe.

Harvey Nichols is putting the focus on its line of Italian goods, available just in time for the season. The concept features a couple arguing about the department store creeping in on everything Italian, from desserts and beverages to clothing and accessories. The faux-drama is visual storytelling at its best as it demonstrates how an item’s appeal may increase correlative to how much someone else doesn’t want you to have it.

McCormick & Co. Spices Up Julekake 

During the holidays, some of our most powerful emotions arise from experiences we have as children. Spice brand McCormick & Co. capitalizes on this phenomenon with a punch to the nose – figuratively, of course. The company’s latest video shows how important flavor and aroma are in recreating memories of our past, as it explores one Norwegian’s mission to find the recipe for the traditional Christmas pastry baked by his beloved grandmother: Julekake.

McCormick decides to join the quest, bringing along a renowned chef to assist in developing a recipe that equals the cake of childhood. It turns out that cardamom was the key – a nice plug for the spice company – but the ingredient is less of a focus. McCormick’s video successfully connects smell and memory, which in turn evoke the emotions of the holiday season.

 Burberry Brings Its Founder to Life

Visual storytelling is again the theme with Burberry’s latest holiday campaign, which centers on the life and times of its founder. Thomas Burberry is the main character in the video that bears his name, and it recounts how he went from the creator of a famous trench coat to successful businessman reigning over a worldwide fashion megabrand.

Burberry spared no expense by putting Oscar-winning British filmmaker Asif Kapadia in charge of production. The video is an account of Thomas’ life, death, relationships, struggles and victories, enabling audiences to connect the founder and the brand on a more personal level.

One theme emerges from these campaigns that can help you with your own efforts: focusing on the needs, wants and motivations of your target audience. What are some ways you’ll be building your brand around the holidays? How will you reach and connect with your community this season? Feel free to share your ideas.

Image source: the Burberry channel on YouTube

We Love Live®. For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing


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