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How Product Marketers See the Holidays

December 23, 2019 by Heidi King

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Right? Well, it can be a bit more complicated for someone with a Product Marketing mind. Especially when it comes to holiday advertising. One minute you are enjoying your eggnog, as Chevy Chase blows the power in the neighborhood (it never gets old). The next you find yourself cringing, as yet another ad comes on that completely misses the mark. You are not alone. So we wanted to dig a little deeper into how being a Product Marketer affects how you see the holidays. 

The Mind of a Product Marketer

Product marketers have a unique perspective of the world. They are the master translators in an organization. They help Product-minded teams communicate the big “why” behind what they have created. And, they help sales teams understand the process behind what they are selling. As such, they tend to see life outside of work through their product marketing lens. Product Marketers are always thinking about communicating a vision, making it a bit painful to watch ads that simply list features and pricing.

Mixing Up the Target Market 

Vincent Lo, our VP of Product Marketing here at Klue, says he instinctively picks out who the intended target audience is for each ad he sees. 

This year he noticed key differences in the approach of Nintendo for their Nintendo Switch versus Xbox, Sony PlayStation, and newcomer the Apple Arcade. 

The latter three gaming giants created ads that target and appeal directly to the gamer. 

However, Nintendo Switch does something a little different. The ad features a mother and son connecting through gaming while she travels for work. This approach is targeting the mother — the decision-maker who is also a user. 

Nintendo Switch ad

It’s not about the features and benefits of the product at all. Rather, it is an emotional pull selling the bond of family and how technology can facilitate closeness.

It’s smart. Not only because it stands out from the competition but because it is the one that the person holding the purse strings is going to remember. 

Timing is Everything

Arguably, one of the most talked-about ads of the season this year has been from Peloton  — the expensive exercise bike that allows the rider to track their progress and join classes from their homes. The price tag was only part of the controversy. In case you haven’t seen it, the ad features a handsome man in a large, beautiful house giving his wife the bike for Christmas. We see her documenting her progress through the year and the two watching her video the following Christmas.  

Peloton Wife

The criticism comes from the seemingly terrified expression on (the already fit-looking and attractive) wife when she starts her video. Viewers interpreted the ad as the man being controlling. And the wife doing the Peloton out of fear that she will be rejected if she isn’t fit and attractive. 

This is an example of an ad going viral for the wrong reasons and of the product being overshadowed by the backlash. And the backlash of the backlash. It’s been pretty phenomenal. 

Then, actor Ryan Reynolds came along. Reynolds, an owner of Aviation American Gin, made this online ad starring the same actress who played the Peloton wife. Watch ad here.

Aviation gin ad

Shopify’s Evelynn Watts commented that the Aviation ad is one of her favorites of the season. She’s not alone, but she sees it through the lens of a product marketer. There is no actual mention of either Peloton or Aviation Gin, but there is no doubt what is going on as it captures emotion with very few words. 

The brilliance though is the timing, says Watts. This ad came out during the height of the backlash while people were all still talking about it. In the time other companies might have been having meetings about how to capitalize on Peloton’s debacle, Aviation Gin’s ad was out there. Watts said she would absolutely reward the cleverness when she has to pick a brand. It has nothing to do with where it was distilled, how it was made or the flavor.

Getting the Essence Right

According to Hubspot, Product Marketing is “about understanding a specific product’s audience on a deep level and developing that product’s positioning and messaging to appeal to that audience.” This year, the one ad that stands out is from retailer H&M. The spot is called Moments in Between. 

H&M Moments in Between

It features quick glimpses into various scenes of people around the holidays. There are none of the big photo-worthy moments. No one is posing. They are candid moments where people are enjoying themselves and experiencing life in between the parties and the festivities. Friends laughing on a couch after a party, a couple stealing a kiss behind the scenes, a woman smiling seeing her Christmas lights being turned on. 

H&M nailed it. They got the essence of what the holidays are actually all about. They are selling a feeling here not clothing. And it works. 

How to Apply a PMM Lens to Time Off

Beyond advertising, the holidays are a chance to take a breath and change your altitude. The life of a product marketer rarely slows down. It seems, most of the time you are being pulled in several different directions. Everyone needs something from you. If it’s two weeks, or a few days or even a morning. Take time off to reflect and digest more than turkey. The holidays give you some breathing space to be able to process information and time to observe. Make room to change your thinking which will allow you to look at things differently. That’s where the magic happens. 

Happy holidays from all of us at Klue! 

Happy Holidays from Klue