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The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Meijer Vs. Party City

December 9, 2013

Two commercials, each created with the goal of drumming up consumer excitement and driving traffic and sales.

In the eighth episode of the RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge, we offer up new spots from Meijer and Party City for you to critique. (Toys "R" Us won in week one; Best Buy in week two; Kmart in week three, Kohl's in week four; Sports Authority in week five; Overstock.com in week six; and L.L. Bean in week seven.) At the end of the holiday season, we will put all the winners from the ongoing competition up for a vote to determine the merchant with the most to be cheerful about during this season of stress and, hopefully, cheer.

[Image: Meijer Christmas]

[Image: Party City Christmas]

Which is better? You decide.

Discussion Questions:

What do you think of Meijer's "Spread The Spirit" and Party City's "A Little Bit of Christmas in My Life" commercials? Which will do the best job of reinforcing the individual retailer's brand and drive business this holiday season?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

Which commercial do you think will be most effective in helping to drive business this holiday season?


The Party City ad was fast paced and showed a wide variety of items they offer. Liked the use of the visual pricing as a way to drive the price point as the ad's voiceover was very quick. The Meijer ad had nice twist at the end that added even more to the good feeling the ad had promoted to that point.

Once again the issue is, which will drive sales - the feel good ad (Meijer) or the item price Holiday themed ad (Party City)? While I like the Meijer ad and believe it will support its brand, I believe the Party City ad with its direct sales approach will generate more sales.

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Steve Montgomery, President, b2b Solutions, LLC

Meljer's has created a feel good spot, while Party City focuses on cost savings. I have to give this round to Party City, even though the spot is not well executed.

The Meijer's spot does not make me want to visit their stores. It talks once about value pricing, but does not give any examples.

The Party City spot is all about low costs and provides multiple examples to back up the claim.

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

Wait a minute. Didn't I see something like the Meijer ad for Kohl's? Huh? Does the same company own both? Found a Kohl's gift card offered on the Meijer website, but oh my....it's confusing.

The Meijer's "Spread the Spirit" ad takes a long to connect with a brand. However, the warmth of the message may keep people engaged over and over again. But it's not an effective way to encourage holiday purchases in the short term.

Can't say I enjoyed the ad for Party City, but they did get their point across, i.e. the products and discounted prices they offer.

The Party City commercial will do more for that company than the Meijer's ad will do for them.

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Joan Treistman, President, The Treistman Group LLC

The "we're cheap" emotion comes screamingly through Party City. The giving back vibe is important from Meijer as an updated Kodak commercial. I'm not sure you would remember either brand after seeing them though. I'd call it a tie.

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Bob Phibbs, President/CEO, The Retail Doctor

Meijer's is a clear winner on the family side. Party City targets the younger crowd. So tough to call a true winner. This is a tie - the ads map well to the retailers strategies - Meijers speaks the Fred Meijer promise and the style of a Grand Rapids, MI (Meijers HQ) and Party City hits the party focus of their shop.

Great ads, but Meijers is the best mapping for the holiday...in my humble holiday opinion.

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Tom Redd, Vice President, Strategic Communications, SAP Global Retail Business Unit

Sorry, but every Party City ad makes me reach for the mute button.

The Meijer ad was phenomenal. Nice work!

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Cathy Hotka, Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

The Meijer's commercial does a good job of creating an instance of holiday spirit that I think will play well to its shoppers. Party City's commercial was good at putting a little of the party spirit into the holiday. I have never seen a Party City ad on TV. I think it's a good idea for them to raise their presence during the holidays. However, I lean toward Meijer's commercial as being most effective.

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Larry Negrich, Vice President, Marketing, nGage Labs

I prefer the Meijer message of sharing to the Party City message of cheap fun. Each promotes conspicuous consumption in its own way, of course. Some random subversive thoughts:

Did anyone else find the choice of Mambo music behind the P.C. ad created a kind of holiday dissonance?

Will the lady in the Meijer ad be able to afford her January electric bill on a fixed income after she gasses up the old Lincoln?

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James Tenser, Principal, VSN Strategies

Party City uses every single second of this spot to promote their products and price points. The pace, music and quick cuts between shots covers a lot of ground in thirty seconds, but leaves the viewer a bit frazzled and gasping for air.

The Meijer spot couldn't be more different...a story that unfolds with a nice twist at the end. The Meijer brand is downplayed, while the spirit of the season is given center stage. It reminds be a bit of the Kohl's spot, with the couple decorating the inside of an elderly neighbor's apartment.

Party City may drive more business, with Meijer the winner for being most memorable.

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Jeff Hall, President, Second To None

The Party City ad could have been created 25 years ago. It is item and price with garish colors and bad music. If they buy enough media frequency (and they will certainly have to to make this spot effective) they will move the merchandise, but the spot is so forgettable - DVR fodder really - that it does nothing to build brand image or equity. Just another place to buy cheap paper goods, but it looks like that's what they are trying to accomplish.

The Meijer spot is more engaging and, if seen in terms of longer term branding, not just selling more stuff this week, then they are the clear winner. Since Meijer uses its massive print FSI program to promote item and price, I would have to say that delivering an engaging brand message on TV is more valuable to them both this holiday season and in the long run.

Al Haberstroh, President, MontAd

I wanted to love the Meijer ad but there were just a few too many cliches and unanswered questions related to "the surprise" to really make it work or to drive sales.

The Party City commercial lacked the optics and production values of the Miejer ad (and many others we've viewed in this contest) but it told the story of what this company has available to support and rev up the season, and at very low prices. People will go there after seeing this commercial.

Advantage  - Party City.


With a snazzy jingle, spectacular color and great product presentation, "A Little Bit of Christmas" by Party City should easily build consumer excitement and drive traffic to stores. Showing low prices and a wide variety of merchandise further reinforces the value that this discount retailer provides.

In fact, I can easily see the family shown in the Meijer commercial running to Party City for all their party supplies and wouldn't those reindeer ears look great on their Grandma, too!

I like both commercials and found "Spread the Spirit" by Meijer to be quite heartwarming. In the end, though, it does not do enough to make me want to shop the store.

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Karen S. Herman, Founder & Design Director, Gustie Creative LLC

Love the emotion of the Meijers ad but it was long on getting there and really not compelling to the brand. And, oh yeah, didn't Kohl's do the same thing?

The Party City ad reminded me that I could run over to Party City and get some cute/fun stuff to decorate for the holidays. I actually never think of Party City when it comes to Christmas, so it really was compelling to me. See you at Party City, y'all!

Lee Kent, Brings Retail Executives Together to Meet.Learn.Profit, RetailConnections

The Meijer commercial has great feel good and holiday sharing, but hardly mentions the company. If this commercial works within their overall theme like Target, it may be effective. Party City uses the same theme for every holiday. As much as I like to see more communication like Meijer's, Party City will likely result in more sales.

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W. Frank Dell II, CMC, President, Dellmart & Company

Meijer's warm holiday message will engage loyal shoppers for this retailer, reminding them of the value they bring - for holiday decor, too. Party City reminds one of how inexpensive these decorations can be, shouting their low-price message. Meijer's wins for me.

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Anne Bieler, Sr. Associate, Packaging and Technology Integrated Solutions

Based on potential sales lift and good use of a very short commercial message space, Party City gets my vote. (And I'm still humming the song!)

For a feel good message, Meijer wins. But I don't think it will drive measurable business results. This does evoke heartwarming emotion and they get kudos for that.

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Dave Wendland, Vice President, Hamacher Resource Group

After reading what executives and experts think, take a look at what the people they're trying to engage and interact with think.

Go to Twitter and search "Meijer Commercial," and then "Party City Commercial."

You might be surprised by the results.

Per Jacobson, Creative Director, The Distillery Project

I would definitely agree that the Party City ad makes me want to reach for the mute button. It has nothing memorable about it, and that jingle will get old after the first time or two you hear it.

The Meijer ad on the other hand, although not a direct sales approach, does a great job of creating a feeling of warmth towards the retailer. I think it will have an overall positive effect on their brand image. With a department store, that can be more important than cramming in as many product/pricing ads as possible, and yet still only managing to highlight a small percentage of your assortment - leave that for your flyers/website.

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Alexander Rink, CEO, 360pi

I can't help it, I always fall for those "feel good" commercials during the holiday. They take the sting out of the total commercialization we see on TV every day. So I think Meijers' ad stands out with its gentle goodness-style message for the season. Party City, in contrast, seems to just be buzzing the same commercial message from other seasons.

Donna Brockway, President, FutureRetail

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