Best Buy goes back in time for holiday campaign

The retailer tells its story in reverse as it continues to focus on the happiness of gift-giving.
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Best Buy is hoping backward storytelling is forward-looking, as the retailer changes up its narrative structure for more mass market appeal this holiday season.

In “Holiday Excitement Starts Here,” the “here” is a little different than what the viewer might expect, as the spot begins with the opening of a Christmas gift, rather than in a Best Buy store. It rewinds until it reaches the moment it was purchased and a dad’s interaction with store staff, where the path to that earlier moment of holiday joy started.

Mary Ann McKenzie, Best Buy Canada’s manager of brand marketing, tells strategy that the brand pivoted from the more typical story arc that starts in one of its stores and ends up in the family home as gifts are exchanged, in order to emphasize the surprise element upfront.

She says the brand typically focuses on what it calls the “tech enthusiast” customer throughout the year, but its holiday campaigns are meant to appeal to a broader holiday shopper target. She says the brand made a deliberate choice not to show what the actual tech gift was, as in past years, so as not to distract from the brand’s message and the happiness that comes from finding tech-related gifts more broadly.

While the chronological structure has changed, what remains the same is that this campaign effort is wordless, with music, and features a Best Buy “blue shirt” helping out a customer.

“We have been using that construct for a couple of years now,” McKenzie says. “We find that the emotion invoked by the custom music track really helps tell the story and going without dialogue allows the focus to remain on the visual action and the connection between the characters.”

In the retailer’s fall campaign, Best Buy employees are shown using the store’s tech offerings in their own homes rather than in store to show off their expertise. As in past holiday campaigns, the “Blue Shirt” staff are also present providing guidance at a key moment in the purchase journey.

“Our Blue Shirt advisors are extremely important in differentiating our brand from our competitors,” McKenzie says. “Customers really want to feel confident about the purchases they make and having someone they can speak with who can give them unbiased knowledgeable advice plays a big role in creating that confidence.”

McKenzie says the ad spend is similar to previous efforts, but that the brand did diversify traditional media to include some radio and digital out-of-home in the GTA, and continues to grow its investment in digital marketing.

The campaign, created by Union, also includes TV, pre-roll and social elements. Media planning and purchasing was handled by Media Experts and Best Buy Canada’s internal digital team.