Hudson’s Bay navigates the holiday season with much-needed cheer

Annie Murphy and Catherine O'Hara bring the joy Canadians want this year to a campaign geared towards making shopping less complicated.


Between fluctuating spending levels, ongoing customer reluctance to shop in-store and the prospect of fewer gatherings, the holiday shopping season is expected to look very different for both retailers and consumers.

Hudson’s Bay is looking to stars from Schitt’s Creek to help everyone navigate the uncertain waters, combining an optimistic and cheery tone with assurances that the retailer can help guide shoppers to exactly what they are looking for.

In Hudson’s Bay’s 2020 holiday campaign, led by FCB, Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy call on the kinds of people who go over-the-top for the holidays, such as “Festive Flaunters,” “Merry Modernistas” and “Holiday Hibernators” against a backdrop of premium lifestyle products, claiming their holiday cheer is needed this year, more than ever.

“A Call to Joy” features a lush visual palette across different holiday-themed scenes reproduced inside an HBC department store, fitting with its “Live a Colourful Life” platform. Launched earlier this year, the new strategic direction has been focused on living life to the fullest, enjoying the things that make it special and celebrating the values and activities that bring people together.

“We know that Canadians need some optimism and joy as we head into the holiday season,” says Meghan Nameth, CMO, Hudson’s Bay. “We took the time to understand the customer mindset – what they are prioritizing, what they are craving, and what matters most to them.” What HBC discovered was that optimism and holiday cheer that could otherwise be lacking this year was in high demand, and she adds that having two recognizable and beloved stars, combined with their sense of humour and the “nostalgia” of art direction meant to recall the retailer’s window displays, will deliver that.

When Nameth participated in a recent strategy roundtable discussion, she reported that during the pandemic, personal care, beauty and home products were doing extremely well, so HBC “shifted a lot of performance marketing into the categories that were maybe more relevant for consumers in the moment.”

To give customers extra help finding what’s relevant, Hudson’s Bay has launched its “Holiday Hub,” a one-stop online destination to make holiday shopping a bit more convenient in a year when typical routines are highly disrupted and they are less eager to shop in store. The hub features a curated selection of gifts for each of the kinds of people O’Hara and Murphy call on in the campaign, with a drive to online buying and delivery options, but also comes with an app that can make navigating the store in-person faster to cut back on browsing time.

In a related segment, dubbed “Give Colourfully,” Hudson’s Bay amplifies its messaging, with Murphy gives O’Hara lighthearted advice about gift-giving during a fireside, humorously referencing items they curated such as the HBC Dior lipstick collection for O’Hara’s uncle, Breville espresso makers, Lord & Taylor cashmere sweaters and two pairs of Ugg boots for a family of 13.

“A Call to Joy” is now viewable in varying lengths on all digital Hudson’s Bay platforms, and has begun airing during primetime TV.