What Brands Can Learn from Kohl’s Holiday Commercial

Not many people are feeling like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and never has the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” carried such gravitas. So, the question brands need to be asking themselves is how can I prevent my customer from having a “Blue Christmas?” The answer is quite simple: copy Kohl’s! If you have not seen Kohl’s holiday commercial, stop what you’re doing and watch it below.


The commercial details an unlikely relationship between a little girl and her older neighbor amid the pandemic. The two get to know each other through asking and answering questions on handwritten signs they place in their window for the other to see. The young girl eagerly wakes up each morning to see her friend’s response. One morning, the older neighbor doesn’t respond. For weeks the little girl checks her window, each time feeling disappointed. On Christmas morning the young girl decides to check on her friend, who as fate would have it is there with a hospital band on her wrist holding a sign asking, “Did you get what you wished for?” The little girl filled with joy nods “Yes.” The underlying “All I Want For Christmas Is You” remains left unsaid. 

Kohl’s commercial magically delivers the one gift you can’t buy this holiday season…connection! The Coronavirus pandemic has pushed people nearly everywhere to significantly alter their daily lives through social distancing and in many cases, self-isolation. If brands want to position themselves top of mind this season, they need to deliver a way to connect with their customers emotionally.  According to Iterable’s 2020 E-Commerce Holiday Shopping survey, 83 percent of shoppers say they are more likely to purchase from a brand to which they have an emotional connection, and more than 50 percent of those earning more than $100,000 per year say they are “much more likely” to make a purchase when they “connect” with a brand. This means it’s imperative that brands position themselves as a tool for healing, building connection, and coming together emotionally while not being able to physically.

You are probably wondering how on earth can I provide healing to my customer? It’s actually easier than it sounds; stop selling and start listening! We spend so much time analyzing customer behaviors and not enough time peeling back the layers to discover how our customer is actually feeling. Now is the time to pause and put yourself in your customer’s shoes, learn how their priorities have shifted and focus on what is truly important to them this holiday season. Iterable’s new survey reveals conventional holiday selling tactics may fall short. As a result, retailers need to communicate with more empathy and play the long game to encourage sales. What brands need to remember is that the long game means more than accepting a longer lead time. This year, the long game involves listening, learning and serving.

As 2020 comes to a close and the joy of the season starts to fill the air, let’s all try to embody Kohl’s holiday messaging, “Where once we just wished for things like toys and tech, we’re now wishing for happiness, understanding and kindness more than ever. And time spent together is the greatest gift of all.” #copykohls

To help you navigate the ever changing landscape, we’ve created Politics, A Pandemic And Pr: A Communications Point Of View For Late 2020, a guide for navigating your brand through troubled times. Download a copy here: Double Forte – Politics, Pandemic and PR- Q42020. Then send us an email so we can help you create a 2021 communications plan that will connect with your customer on a deeper level.

By: Catherine Bormann