This Thanksgiving is strange for many people across America, with Covid-19 affecting everything from travel plans to the size of gatherings. It’s also difficult for many marketers. Holiday campaigns must now both address the pandemic and achieve the usual business goals.
How are savvy brands tackling this challenge? What creative strategies are they pursuing to connect with consumers and convey messaging appropriate for 2020?
Here are 10 Thanksgiving campaigns whose unusual approaches are perfect fits for this unusual year.
Publix: This is Thanksgiving
Successful Thanksgiving marketing in 2020 is about finding ways to highlight the enduring things that make the holiday special—such as food and time with loved ones. At the same time, it needs to acknowledge what’s different this year (social distancing, masks, etc.). This beautiful ad from grocery chain Publix strikes the perfect balance by showcasing everything from families gathered around traditional tables to medical co-workers sharing a quick meal while in scrubs.
Wyndham and Hotels.com: Friendsgiving Island and Quar-nucopia
For brands in industries such as travel, Thanksgiving marketing in 2020 necessitates openly addressing issues such as quarantining and limits on the size of gatherings. While serious in nature, this type of messaging doesn’t have to be a downer. Hotels.com draws attention to the fun possibilities of small groups with its Friendsgiving Island giveaway (a trip with five friends to a private island). Wyndam has done the same with its Quar-nucopia packages. These include 15-night stays for families in private spaces that enable easy quarantining).
Delta: The Points Guy Partnership
For Delta, Thanksgiving 2020 marketing is centered on one essential message: Flying with us is safe. In order to clearly get this across and ease travelers’ worries about contracting Covid-19 while flying, the brand has teamed up with The Points Guy. The content doesn’t try to be flashy or cute; rather it simply and effectively focuses on outlining the many steps Delta is taking to ensure that passengers stay healthy.
Like Delta, Macy’s faces a very specific challenge this holiday. Its biggest marketing showcase—the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City—will be mostly crowdless because of Covid-19. The retailer has smartly adapted by shifting some engagement from in-person to virtual; for example, by providing this #MacysParade social content teaching people how to make their own drawings of giant balloons.
Butterball: Turkey Talk-Line
Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line is an institution. Every year the food brand’s “turkey experts” answer more than 100,000 holiday meal-related questions from households across the United States and Canada. Of course, 2020 is an unusual year; not just for the people calling in, but for the experts taking the calls. Rather than ignore this fact, Butterball has embraced it and used its social channels to highlight how its staff members are tackling the Turkey Talk-Line questions from their homes.
Kitchn and Cheeses of Europe: Thanksgiving Food Fest
This year as people plan their Thanksgiving meals, many are spending more time with digital devices and on social media. Online publication Kitchn capitalized on these trends with its first ever Thanksgiving Food Fest, a two-day digital video extravaganza sponsored by Cheeses of Europe. The event was held on Instagram and featured experts explaining everything from how to properly cook a turkey to how to make an Old Fashioned cocktail.
Campbell’s, Progressive, and Whole Foods: Dinner Insurance and the Turkey Protection Plan
With so much turmoil in the world in 2020, many people just want to feel protected. This need for safety extends to the Thanksgiving meal, and savvy brands have tapped into the desire. Campbell’s is offering dinner insurance to “make sure your sides don’t go sideways.” Progressive Insurance and Whole Foods have teamed up on the Turkey Protection Plan, which provides a gift card if something goes wrong with your bird.
In addition to wanting a sense of security, many people just want things to be simple this Thanksgiving. Perdue has catered to this with its ThanksNuggets. They’re easy-to-make turkey-shaped nuggets that come in both white meat and dark meat flavors. The product isn’t meant to be a profit maker—the limited batch sold out in three minutes—but rather is intended to show the brand understands consumers’ needs in 2020.
Budweiser: Beer Can Turkey Stand and Leftovers Lock
Rather than dwell on the downsides of 2020 this Thanksgiving, Budweiser’s marketing team decided to take a different approach and have some fun. The pillars of the beverage brand’s lighthearted 2020 strategy are two products released to its Beer Gear Store for the holiday: A beer can turkey stand (so you can proudly show off your bird) and a locking leftover container (so no one steals your eats in the following days).
Food Lion: Hope For The Holidays
Finally, it’s important to note that Thanksgiving this year falls during a time of economic hardship for many consumers, and families across the nation may not have enough food on the table. Grocery chain Food Lion is showcasing this in its holiday 2020 campaigns, and is using its advertising to promote its Food Lion Feeds boxes, which provides free meals to communities.