The Perfect Recipe for Holiday Marketing

The holiday season is upon us. As the nights get longer and the days get colder, we find solace in our loved ones, perhaps by a fire. Holiday marketing should fill customers with that same warmth. If your holiday ad doesn't leave a customer either smiling or in tears of joy, it's not doing its job.

Publix’s 2022 Thanksgiving commercial crackles and captivates, burning bright with sentimentality, stoked by moving storytelling.

Here's how you can do the same:

Set a holiday scene

If you want to attract holiday lovers with your content, set a familiar holiday scene, but keep the story fresh as new snow.

Publix does this by opening its commercial in a kitchen, the place where so many holidays begin. Instead of a kitchen full of people prepping, as typical of many bustling festive scenes, we find a one-woman show.

The woman chops vegetables to the tune of a rather melancholy piano. Our empathy is primed. How could you not feel for an older woman ostensibly alone on Thanksgiving?

A blue scene is set, but now we're invested. Will things turn around for this poor woman? The holidays are for cheer, after all.

Make family a focal point

Family is the heart of the holiday season, so make it the heart of your ads.

In this case, our lonely leading lady is not so alone after all, her husband popping into the house, and her daughter checking in over the phone.

The mood instantaneously shifts when the woman’s daughter calls to ask about her nana’s stuffing. The way the mother’s face lights up is truly something out of a holiday film, so pure and genuine.


In a poignant montage, we witness Nana's stuffing bridge the gap between mother and daughter, paralleled as they work in their kitchens. Distance is irrelevant as they chat the day away, fueled by each other's virtual company.

This leads us into another way you can elevate your holiday ads: leverage tradition.

Almost everyone has a list of traditions they could rattle off. Maybe it's opening one present on Christmas Eve or participating in their town's annual Turkey Trot. Traditions strengthen familial bonds and color the holidays.


Publix chose the perfect tradition. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a family recipe, passed down through the generations. Plus, it's not too specific of a tradition that customers wouldn't be able to relate to it.

Make it meaningful

Publix closes out their add by layering on more meaning to an already sentimental tale. We learn that the daughter had the recipe on hand the whole time, only calling her mother because she wanted to feel close to her.


Furthermore, the mother realized this. They kept the tradition alive because of their deep love for one another. This ending illustrates the importance of family, especially now. It brought tears to my eyes, as all powerful holiday stories do.

The narrative route you take depends on what you're selling, of course. Publix is a grocery store, so centering the story around a beloved family recipe fits. But no matter what your business is, your holiday marketing efforts should be meaningful.

This time of year is magical not because of the snow and the Christmas lights but because of the people with which you appreciate them. Tradition and family make the reindeer fly, so to speak. Convey that through your ads and take off.

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