The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Barnes & Noble vs. H&M

Discussion
Dec 01, 2015
George Anderson

Three weeks into our annual Commercial Challenge and so far Macy’s, T.J. Maxx and Best Buy have come out ahead in their respective weekly matchups based on your votes. This week’s challenge brings out some major pop music talent with holiday season spots for Barnes & Noble and H&M.

The Barnes & Noble commercial teams up Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, who have a chance meeting at one of the chain’s stores. H&M enlists Katy Perry who makes clear that the chain’s initials stand for "happy" and "merry" all year round and not just during the holidays.

[Image: Barnes & Noble]

[Image: H&M]

What is your critique of “You’ll Never Know Who You’ll Meet at Barnes & Noble” and “From the Makers of Happy and Merry” from H&M? Which spot do you think does a better job of connecting with the chain’s core customer base while also reaching out to prospective shoppers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Two terrific commercials. However, I give the nod to the B&N spot for several reasons: highlights the warm brick-and-mortar shopping environment, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, and it does all of this in one minute versus the two minute H&M spot."
"Based on the comments, I’d say I’m now forced to go with H&M which clearly did a better job of targeting its core demographic cohort to the exclusion (and apparent auditory chagrin) of ... well let’s just say ... more mature viewers."
"Each links well with what I believe is the core audience for the brand, but I think Barnes & Noble hit the mark in a stronger way. The two celebs walked into what was obviously a book store. The atmosphere created was reminiscent of the traditional holidays."

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18 Comments on "The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Barnes & Noble vs. H&M"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

My vote goes to H&M. Their spot better conveys the joy of the season. I don’t get the tagline of “You’ll never know who you’ll meet at Barnes & Noble,” or what B&N is trying to accomplish with the spot.

Zel Bianco
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Both spots do a fine job of connecting with their core customer base but I don’t think there are any winners this week. H&M went glitzy to the point of bizarre, failed to showcase any items that people would buy as gifts (apart from a few of the children’s shirts) and used a song that somehow manages to be repetitious but not catchy. Barnes & Noble used Gaga and Bennett, who I still associate with last year’s H&M ads, in an ad where the concept and tagline are far better than the execution. They would have been better off with a larger ensemble of more unexpected meetings in Barnes & Noble.

Tom Redd
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

The B&N ad wins. Why? It is all about the core of Christmas or holiday time. Both the stars target different age groups. H&M is for sure a “mute the TV commercial.” Sorry, a bit overdone.

If B&N could pull some surprise visits of Tony or Lady Gaga and film these, that would be a great extension of the ad. News channels would pick the stories up. Add more stars to the visits, unannounced … a surprise for the holidays!

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Barnes & Noble connected with me from the start. Of course, I have already seen it aired several times. You know instantly what the message is they are sending. By far this was the best of the two we viewed today.

H&M was at least a minute too long, and I am still not sure what they were trying to tell me. Assuming you know nothing about the two chains before viewing the spots, you still do not know any more about H&M after seeing it.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest
Naomi K. Shapiro
3 years 10 months ago

Barnes & Noble ad? At least it establishes who the advertiser is at the beginning and end and is gentle and pleasant, but unfortunately I was more concerned about the singers than the content of the store. Bennett and Gaga are very charming and more my speed than the H&M ad, which was frenetic, unmemorable and didn’t establish whose ad it was until the very end (and barely then). My advertising advice is always mention at the beginning AND the end, or somewhere in the middle, what the ad is for. Otherwise why try to engage the audience at all (for a lot of money for the ad and ad space)? And am I the only one who didn’t know that “Happy” and “Merry” were code-words for H&M?

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Two terrific commercials. However, I give the nod to the B&N spot for several reasons: 1. The commercial highlights the warm brick-and-mortar shopping environment, which is a nice rejoinder to online shopping. 2. Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett cross many generations with a holiday classic song that engages viewers. 3. It does all of this in one minute versus the two minute H&M spot.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Based on the comments, I’d say I’m now forced to go with H&M which clearly did a better job of targeting its core demographic cohort to the exclusion (and apparent auditory chagrin) of … well let’s just say … more mature viewers.

So, B&N wins the older vote, but is that a good or bad thing — especially given their current push on vinyl music, toys and Young Adult fiction?

The H&M ad says, “We’re young and ready to party.” The Barnes & Noble add says, “Pass the egg nog and lap blanket.”

Not really sure I like either ad to be brutally honest.

I know Lady GaGa is young, and no question Tony Bennett is hyper cool for his age, but the whole B&N ad feels, well, sort of 1940s. As to Ms. Perry, well, she’s a novelty act and you either like her or you don’t.

But, since the question was which commercial connects best with the chain’s core customer base, I think the prize (such as it is in this case) goes to H&M.

Gary White
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

I think they both connect well with the customers that shop these brands. Gaga and Tony Bennett seems to capture the mature customer, who likes going to bookstores and physical places. I think this is smart of B&N. H&M employing a younger energy and spirit with Perry is also very on the mark for their brand. It wasn’t set in a store, it was the positive energy of the holiday, regardless if you shop in-store, online or both. Nice work for both.

Brian Kelly
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Waste of money. Gaga, Bennett and Perry? Who cares? B&N and H&M? Nothing says Happy Holiday like an acronym!

At this point in the selling season it should be obvious the only thing that motivates this season’s shopper is a gonzo deal. 15 Percent Off all on sales is the benchmark. Way to go Target! NPH won’t bring back those that gave up waiting?

Spend shareholder dollars on the experience. Don’t let the site slow. Don’t let the lines grow.

As Scrooge said to Marley, “Jacob, retail ain’t for sissies!”

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
3 years 10 months ago
I think both ads missed the mark. With B&N, the idea that you never know who you’ll meet in a B&N shouldn’t be about the famous people you’ll randomly bump into off the street, it should be about all of the fantastic CHARACTERS you will meet — you know, in the books that they sell? I think that was a huge miss. H&M, the miss was more about, what are we promoting here? It’s a way overdone extravaganza that I think maybe does actually feature some products. If the intent is to blow a lot of money on what is effectively a video holiday card to the masses, then hey, I have no complaints. But then why feature the clothing at all? If the intent is to tell people that H&M is a great place to go for the clothes you need for when you want to share the holiday spirit, then it totally missed the point. I guess I’ll have to show the Katy Perry — oops I mean H&M — ad to my 11-year-old daughter, who… Read more »
Bill Hanifin
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Each links well with what I believe is the core audience for the brand, but I think Barnes & Noble hit the mark in a stronger way. Here’s why:

I understood the connection to B&N right away as the two celebs walked into what was obviously a book store. The atmosphere created was reminiscent of the traditional holidays and, since the two have recently recorded together, the connection at the end made sense as well.

The H&M ad has promise but stretched a bit for me. I would not have known that this was anything but a Katy Perry holiday video until well into the commercial. The fact that H&M can now prompt us to think about Holidays and Merry could be extended, but the viewer had to make this connection unprompted and it might now work for the casual viewer.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

My vote goes to Barnes & Noble. Knew immediately it was a book store (and because they are the last book store chain standing, Barnes & Noble). Supporting this was the fact the books were visible in almost every scene. Have to also admit the music was more pleasing to my ear. The H&M song seemed frantic in comparison.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
3 years 10 months ago

Oh my goodness, how I love the Barnes & Noble ad. It captures and reminds me why so many of us, young and old, enjoy browsing the physical aisles of actual bookstores for gifts. It is near perfect in execution and this ad will be hard to be beat out by any other ad this shopping season for my money. My only “fix” would be to have added the two missing words “buying gifts” to the final statement, (as in “You never know who you’ll meet ‘buying gifts’ at Barnes and Noble.”) since sales are, after all, kind of the point of the ad.

James Tenser
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Both ads score by sharing pleasant music that appeals to their respective target audiences. This is a nice idea — a little gift to TV watchers.

If you’re a little older, as I am, B&N beats H&M easily, because the former ad tells us a story with economy, style and celebrities we can relate to. The H&M production is fun and upbeat, but not made for me. (And I’m still scratching my head over the shirtless young man sitting on a car — is he somebody?)

Kai Clarke
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

The pretense of the Barnes & Noble commercials are simple, direct and very effective. They are building on a community position, which makes B&N a destination location for consumers to meet at, as well as purchase products from.

Lee Peterson
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

The B&N ad is more subtle, less obnoxious, less sexy, but ultimately a little more effective. I did have to ask a few times, “who is this for?” though, which is not good.

Re: H&M: liked this the first time I saw it, when it was called “Old Navy Holiday.”

Lee Kent
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

So that’s the game these days. Throw some celebrities that may appeal to your demographic and call that a holiday ad? Bah Humbug!

I suppose B&N came closer to reminding me who they are and what they offer. I suppose I can get the Gaga Bennett CD there?

Maybe had they expanded this ad into others that featured characters in books or CDs that are popular and perhaps on mark for the Holidays, it would have scored more points for me.

My 2 cents go to B&N!

Karen McNeely
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

I think B&N does a better job of reaching core and prospective shoppers simply by bridging multiple generations. The H&M ad is pretty narrow in its appeal, but probably is very appealing to that demographic. I don’t think either ad is particularly effective in getting customers to come in and shop. Barnes & Noble probably does have a slight edge here as well, because they don’t necessarily need to show product. I think H&M puts a good show for a Katie Perry fan, but not much beyond that.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Two terrific commercials. However, I give the nod to the B&N spot for several reasons: highlights the warm brick-and-mortar shopping environment, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, and it does all of this in one minute versus the two minute H&M spot."
"Based on the comments, I’d say I’m now forced to go with H&M which clearly did a better job of targeting its core demographic cohort to the exclusion (and apparent auditory chagrin) of ... well let’s just say ... more mature viewers."
"Each links well with what I believe is the core audience for the brand, but I think Barnes & Noble hit the mark in a stronger way. The two celebs walked into what was obviously a book store. The atmosphere created was reminiscent of the traditional holidays."

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