It’s time to take a look at what brands are doing to capture our attention and what lies behind their success—namely, what we can take away from them.

Creativity is at the heart of the most successful marketing strategies, and the LEGO brand’s newest business venture is no exception. Having possibly outdone themselves this year, LEGO is showing us all what this lovely holiday is about with their new, imaginative, “biggest-ever” Christmas campaign. For the first time ever, the brand has featured a celebrity— and not just any celebrity but Katy Perry, one of the most influential singers and icons of the past two decades. In their newest video, the children were given creative control, and we see them excitedly building a vehicle out of LEGO blocks within a LEGO City design. Perry appears and rides a truck with the help of Iron Man through the children’s fantasy world while Star Wars ships glide through the sky, as the pop star sings her smash-hit “Firework.” The spirit of the holiday season is to spread joy, something that no one is too old or too young for, which LEGO demonstrates in having an adult who is an avid LEGO collector at the center of the children’s imagination. The Holidays bring people together the same way that many share a love for their product; LEGO presented their product as being accessible to all while still channeling this message through their main audience.

Amazon, Lidl, and John Lewis are also making waves and have everyone talking with their newest ads. Like LEGO, these three companies launched short films centered around children and creativity, though with more emotion. Amazon’s “Joy is Made” shows a young girl carrying a beautiful snowglobe around everywhere she goes, which gives her father an idea. The dad proceeds to build the same winter wonderland that is within the snowglobe in their greenhouse, using the paper shredder he ordered from Amazon to make fake snow. Lidl’s “The Story of Lidl Bear” opens on a dad pulling out his shrunken shirt from the dryer, which his daughter grabs and puts on her stuffed bear. While at Lidl, everyone sees the bear and starts to photograph him. Suddenly, the Lidl Bear becomes famous, traveling and booking gigs everywhere until he sees his friend on the television asking for him to come home. On Christmas Day, the little girl finds a feast and the best gift of all: being reunited with her friend. John Lewis tugged at our heartstrings in a short film that keeps you watching until the pieces come together in the end. Throughout the video, there is a middle-aged man struggling to ride a skateboard; he keeps falling and getting injured, but he continues to try every day. The ad ends with a factoid about the amount of foster children in the UK.

All of these Holiday campaigns touch on key ideas that go into the success of advertising and marketing strategies: knowing and catering to your audience, thinking ambitiously and creatively, giving ample coverage to your products, and, most importantly, being human. In their videos, these companies show sides of themselves that are not concerned with picture-perfect scenarios or the direct purchase of their products, but rather, they depict everything that can come from such purchases. For LEGO, we didn’t need to see a beautiful tree or campfire to know the true aim of the advertisement; the silly and playfully messy nature of the video was enough to set our sights on the core of Holiday celebration, which is making others happy and using the “building blocks” of your imagination. Amazon shows us how the “little things” make the biggest differences; a paper shredder can make snow, and a Holiday decoration can signify a whole new world for a child. Lidl launched a mascot, gave us a glimpse of the media-filled world we are in, and demonstrated how one must never forget where they came from and how the holidays serve to bring people together even when separated for long periods of time. John Lewis took on a philanthropic approach by partnering with Neighborly to generate attention for the foster care system, making us think about others during times where it is easiest to think about ourselves.

One popular campaign that does not use the same strategy is Tesco’s. In their latest advert, the brand pokes fun at the “joy shortage” there is in the world today amidst the struggles faced due to inflation. We see families engaging in typical Holiday traditions surrounded by food that Tesco claims is meant to help people meet their budgets. Tesco strives to “stand up for joy” and help mitigate the effects of the cost of living crisis with their great deals, directly commenting on their products rather than letting the ad speak for itself like aforementioned brands did. They took on a more traditional path in terms of promotion style that nonetheless works because of their willingness to represent the qualms of their customers and be in tune with the realities of the world. What Tesco shares with the other companies mentioned, though, is that all of them seek a connection with their customers, appealing to both their emotions and needs. They also succeed in terms of originality, seeing as they didn’t merely opt for the typical friendly holiday advertisement; instead, they went for a satirical and comedic approach.

All of these companies present themselves well and tap into the essence of Holiday marketing: finding what makes people happy. They demonstrate how well they know their audiences and products, and they display creativity and innovation in their respective advertisements—all while entertaining us in the process. Most importantly, these companies’ campaigns appeal to their customers’ emotions and speak to what the holidays are all about. We can learn plenty from their ads as both marketing enthusiasts and people.