Dick’s and Etsy’s Christmas spots deal with COVID-19 realities in different ways

Source: Etsy “Gift Like You Mean It: Nana”
Nov 11, 2020
George Anderson

The first contest to determine the winner of this year’s RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge featured spots intended to tug on the heart strings. Kohl’s “Give With All Your Heart” received more votes than Hobby Lobby’s “Christmas Is What You Make It” in the final tally.

One element of Hobby Lobby’s spot that may have cost it some votes was a scene in which the two primary characters came face-to-face without wearing masks. This detail stood out to some as out-of-touch considering the realities of life during the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in almost every state in the nation. A new single day record was set yesterday at 139,855, reports The New York Times. Hospitals in many locations have reached their ICU bed capacity, with some airlifting patients to other facilities for treatment. The number of confirmed cases has risen by 69 percent over the past 14 days and more than 240,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus since it first came to the U.S.

The two 30-second commercials being presented for your consideration and poll vote today are quite clear in their messaging about addressing the realities associated with the pandemic.

The first animated spot from Dick’s Sporting Goods titled “Night at the Distribution Center” moves along to the tune of Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” and focuses on delivering for customers in time for Christmas.

Etsy’s “Nana” addresses the realities of social distancing and keeping one another safe as the pandemic rages on. The spot is intended to drive an emotional reaction that many, if not most, Americans can share at this time. It does so while emphasizing the personal nature of the gifts created by the marketplace’s artisan sellers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your critique of the Christmas spots from Dick’s Sporting Goods and Etsy? Which does a better job of connecting with each company’s core customers while reaching out to new shoppers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"While the Dick’s Sporting Goods ad was much more upbeat and fun, I believe the Etsy ad is much more relevant to our times and creates an emotional connection with customers."
"Empowering workers has been a theme of 2020. The level to which we depend on the people behind the scenes has been brought into stark focus."
"I am a much bigger fan of the Dick’s spot, which is more upbeat. But I enjoy holiday ads that make me smile, rather than mist-over."

Join the Discussion!

25 Comments on "Dick’s and Etsy’s Christmas spots deal with COVID-19 realities in different ways"

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Neil Saunders

Is it just me, or does the Dick’s ad feel like it has been cut short? Just as Chuck Berry gets going the song fades out to some nondescript jingle. It all feels a bit jarring. The message of delivering to home is a good one. I just don’t think it is executed very well.

The Etsy ad is touching and it reflects the reality that some people will have to spend Christmas apart from loved ones this year. That makes meaningful and thoughtful gifts more important than ever, and Etsy captures the spirit of this.

In my view, Etsy wins this one!

David Naumann

While the Dick’s Sporting Goods ad was much more upbeat and fun, I believe the Etsy ad is much more relevant to our times and creates an emotional connection with customers. I think holiday advertising should be sensitive to the emotions we are all going through with social distancing and refraining from non-essential travel during the pandemic.

Dr. Stephen Needel

Dick’s was boring – could be the Kmart of Christmas spots. Etsy makes me misty, which is my initial criteria for a good one – if you don’t get me emotional, you’re done. I would have liked a better tag line for Etsy though – something to drive home its unique offering.

Dick Seesel

The Etsy spot is the clear winner in this week’s contest, by speaking directly to the emotional toll of the virus heading into the holidays while reminding us in a subtle way about the artisanal goods that Etsy sells.

I frankly found the Dick’s ad strange, and I didn’t understand what they were trying to say — order online early for best selection? It’s not much different from what Amazon and other e-commerce retailers are suggesting, other than the appearance of sporting goods under the tree at the very end. Even the focus on logistics (instead of emotion, product or brand-building) felt off-key.

Georganne Bender

I actually thought that the face in one scene was an Amazon smile.

Brett Busconi

I think they both are good commercials and are well aimed at their core targets.

While I think the Etsy commercial is better, overall, at achieving a feeling and being hyper-relevant, I think the Dick’s spot may move the needle more.

The Dick’s spot has a message of action: Dick’s will get it there, even if it takes the products delivering themselves!

The other has a message of commiseration: Etsy knows this holiday season is going to be brutal for many families but you will make it through. With the help of cell phones, DIY types of gifts, and some (likely) tears.

Jeff Sward

Etsy — hands down. The ad is a great reminder of the family connections that the holidays are all about. And a painful reminder that while this holiday will be unlike any previous holiday, the family connections are still of paramount importance. Getting stuff delivered is the easy part. With apologies to FedEx, UPS and USPS — I do not diminish how tough your holiday season will be.

Laura Davis-Taylor

It is near impossible to walk the political line when it comes to COVID-19 right now. I respect the heck out of these folks — just take on the holiday realities, but with your brand voice and stance shining through.

Dick’s is great, as it’s clearly saying “we know this holiday is challenged, but we’re still going to make the magic happen under the tree—no matter what it takes.” Etsy, grounded in unique, bespoke gifts, leverages their brand even more powerfully. Maybe family is far away, but that really, really special gift that could be EVERYTHING to the person on the other end is possible.

Jeff Hall

The Etsy spot will resonate deeply with its core customers – authentically tugging at the heartstrings while conveying the reality of what the holidays will look like for so many this year. While Dick’s is confidently telling us orders will arrive in time to be under the tree, the reality is they’re dependent on third-party delivery services. Dick’s may be setting expectations that can’t be met, ultimately leading to customer disappointment. In this contest, it is Etsy for the win.

Richard Hernandez

There is something missing from the Dick’s commercial – the products are on the conveyor belt then in seconds they are under the tree – is there more story that was chopped? The Etsy commercial ticked all the boxes: told what they sell, told about missing family due to COVID-19 restrictions and showed compassion via mobile phone. Etsy gets my vote.

Scott Norris

I was kind of expecting Dick’s presents to wrap themselves, too – who leaves unwrapped gifts under the tree? (Hey, son, I didn’t care enough!)
But the Etsy spot has me crying here at my office desk, thinking about not sharing the holidays with my brother-in-law, who died of COVID-19, and not being able to see my own family. They get it.

Ben Ball

I hate misty-eyed advertising — until I love it. Etsy could not have picked a better relationship than grandparents to hit the heart of all people during the pandemic. Pairing it with the deep meaning of “I made it for you…” is the icing on the cake. And it makes this ad uniquely Etsy’s. Well done.

Natalie Walkley

“I hate misty-eyed advertising — until I love it.” Same, Ben. Same.

Rodger Buyvoets

I think Dick’s commercial feels abrupt. The message isn’t entirely clear straight away. So even though the thought behind “we’ll deliver it on time” is great, I don’t really see it coming through the commercial strongly. Etsy is more in touch with reality. It seems to respond to our times by touching on the right heartstrings. It’s more relevant for more people who will be forced to spend Christmas alone, and therefore does a better job of connecting with their core customers.

Lisa Goller

Both of these ads honor 2020’s unique holiday circumstances

Cute and concise, the spot for Dick’s Sporting Goods shows sports equipment and apparel coming to life to arrive in time for the holidays. The ad reflects growing enthusiasm for outdoor sports during the pandemic and our desire for retail speed and reliability. Even the lack of wrapping paper hints at sustainability. Overall, parents and active younger adults will enjoy the ad for its festive last-mile joyride.

Wow. Etsy nailed the tone for 2020. This spot reflects our deep yearning to connect across generations despite distance, especially during the holidays. It also contrasts Etsy’s special, one-of-a-kind items with rivals’ mass-produced merchandise. It’s a peek inside the hearts of sandwich generation consumers caring for young families and missing elderly relatives. Etsy grasps that this holiday season we seek meaningful memories and resilient relationships.

While Dick’s Sporting Goods’ spot is a hoot, Etsy’s is all heart.

Georganne Bender

The Etsy commercial is beautiful but I think if I have to go through an entire holiday season of sentimental “you can’t see your family” commercials my head will explode. That’s reality and frankly, I don’t need to be reminded of it in every other TV commercial.

I like the Dick’s spot but what’s inside that yellow onesie? At one point it has a football looking face and at another the space is just black. Like death in horror movies. The commercial also felt rushed, like it was trying to cram too much into 30 seconds. It needed more time.

I don’t have a clear winner. Etsy wins for sentimentality, and Dick’s wins for reminding us that the holidays are supposed to be fun.

Georganne Bender

I saw the Dick’s commercial on a big screen tv tonight where I could see all the details I missed on my phone. It’s a fun and clever spot and my definite winner of the two.

Steve Montgomery

The Dick’s spot gets credit for showing the types of gifts available and the availability of home delivery but lacks the heart we have come to expect in Christmas commercials.

The Esty spot reflects the world we live in today and will live in through at least this holiday season. It highlights the longing for families to get together in person even though they might not be able to and shows what is unique about their gifts. They are the definite winner.

Liz Crawford

The Etsy spot (which I saw broadcast on television) struck me as depressing and even a bit pathetic, rather than heart-warming. The people in the ad seem defeated, while the gift from the grandchild seems like small comfort.

I am a much bigger fan of the Dick’s spot, which is more upbeat. But I enjoy holiday ads that make me smile, rather than mist-over.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.

I’m not impressed by Dick’s. Etsy does a better job of reflecting what the company offers. It uses emotion nicely. It gets my vote for this round.

Ricardo Belmar

I see where Dick’s was headed with their spot about being able to overcome the challenges everyone faces this season to get something wonderful under the tree, but the execution feels choppy and cut short. It almost feels like too much was left on the editing room floor to make this one work.

Etsy, on the other hand, executes well and hits home on something so many people are struggling with this season and it leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy for having chosen a thoughtful gift that looks and feels like it was caringly made just for the recipient.

Etsy wins this round!

Jasmine Glasheen

Empowering workers has been a theme of 2020. The level to which we depend on the people behind the scenes has been brought into stark focus. But the delivery and warehouse workers in the Dick’s ad are faceless. Not a good look when service workers are risking their lives to make a living during the holidays.

Etsy is warm and personalized. They’ve got my vote!

Patricia Vekich Waldron

I had to watch Dick’s twice — I thought I’d missed something! Etsy was too sentimental for me, but will appeal to its customer base.

Natalie Walkley

I resonated with the Etsy commercial, and think they nailed their target audience. As a mom, this holiday is a gut-wrenching reality for grandkids/grandparents.

Perhaps Dick’s went upbeat and fun to target their male audience? I’d liked the creativity of it, but had to rewatch it because I didn’t catch the story right away.

Rachelle King

These are both really wonderful spots. Dicks is very engaging from start to finish while Etsy tugs on the emotions in real-time. Tough but I’d say Etsy wins for being on brand and for being socially relevant.

Dicks certainly hits home the message of delivery and being under the tree for Christmas, but I wonder if delivery is their thing. They end with “every holiday starts at Dicks” but I’m not sure that’s the right pay-off for this spot. Feels like a missed moment to to tie the message back to the creative in a more meaningful way.

Etsy is just spot on relevant (with a tad exaggeration on the drama). This spot gets right to the prolonged hardship of social distancing and a reality so many may experience during the holidays: shared moments over video. They finished with a nice product tie-in that contextually fit the story, creative and brand. This one wins for keeping it real in a way that resonates with both new and existing customers.

"While the Dick’s Sporting Goods ad was much more upbeat and fun, I believe the Etsy ad is much more relevant to our times and creates an emotional connection with customers."
"Empowering workers has been a theme of 2020. The level to which we depend on the people behind the scenes has been brought into stark focus."
"I am a much bigger fan of the Dick’s spot, which is more upbeat. But I enjoy holiday ads that make me smile, rather than mist-over."

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