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American Girl’s early holiday campaign seeks to capitalize on the Thanksgiving spirit

November 25, 2015 11:49 AM
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American Girl LLC’s first holiday marketing campaign of the season intends to capitalize on the idea of giving thanks, and the retailer is expressing that notion through ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Hulu, TV and on streaming radio stations like Pandora.

The “Get A Friend. Give A Friend.” campaign involves American Girl donating a toy to one of the Children’s Hospital Association’s 200 member hospitals for every doll sold through Nov. 30. The retailer is also marketing the campaign, launched Nov. 6, on AmericanGirl.com, in emails and on in-store signage. Shoppers will find a  thank-you card in every American Girl doll box purchased during the promotion.

Starting the campaign early in the holiday season, well before the rush of upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, aimed to give the manufacturer and retailer, No. 129 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, plenty of time to capitalize on shoppers’ Thanksgiving spirit, says Jenifer Warrell, American Girl’s director of retail marketing. The retailer has two other campaigns planned for the remainder of the season.

“We started our holiday campaign earlier this year to ensure that our message of being thankful and giving back is more closely tied to the Thanksgiving time period,” she says.

Key to the campaign, she says, is storytelling, which is why the retailer boosted its social media ad budget, though Warrell declined to give specific figures). Social networks, she says, provide a platform ideal for telling the campaign’s story. The retailer is among the many retailers that for the first time are running Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns simultaneously; Facebook-owned Instagram opened its up ad-buying platform to all brands Oct. 1, and marketers can use Facebook’s collection of consumer data to target shoppers with ads.

One of the Facebook ad formats that American Girl is experimenting with during the campaign is Facebook Canvas, a new ad unit that, when clicked, presents a shopper with a full-screen array of images. The shopper can then browse through products. When she clicks to buy, she is taken to the retailer’s site.

American Girl says it is gauging the campaign’s success by examining consumer engagement in addition to sales; it is tracking how many shoppers watch the video ad “Saved Up” that its running on TV, YouTube, Hulu and streaming radio stations, as well as how many consumers use the #Joy2EveryGirl hashtag that created for the campaign. So far, American Girl has met its customer engagement and sales goals, while also “reinforcing our brand values,” Warrell says.

“The promotion is celebrating the holiday season by encouraging more ways to bring people together, which, for this effort, is having our fans help us bring the gift of friendship to girls in need,” she says.  

 

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