The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Big Lots vs. Kohl’s

Discussion
Kohl's "Give Joy, Get Joy"
Nov 21, 2017
George Anderson

Week one of the Christmas Commercial Challenge went to Nordstrom’s upbeat “Choir! Choir! Choir!” spot featuring the department store’s workers. This week, we present a matchup between Big Lots’ “Share the Joy” and Kohl’s “Give Joy, Get Joy” spot.

Big Lots, which came off a second quarter in which same-store sales increased 1.9 percent and earnings per share were up 29 percent year-over-year, is looking for a strong holiday season ahead. The retailer, which is a winner of a past RetailWire annual challenge, has created a spot that seeks to show off its product offerings for the season behind an infectious audio track of Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World.”

Kohl’s, which eked out a 0.1 percent increase in same-store sales despite having to shut some 100 stores temporarily due to hurricanes, raised its full-year outlook heading into the holidays. With its “Give Joy, Get Joy” spot, the retailer is seeking to communicate — on an epic scale — that customers buying gifts this holiday season will not only make others happy, they’ll pick up Kohl’s Cash they can use for themselves, as well.

DISCUSSION QUESTION:  What is your critique of Big Lot’s “Share the Joy” and Kohl’s “Give Joy, Get Joy”? Which do you think 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.
Braintrust
"They both do a good job of connecting with their key target as well as offering an interesting way for new shoppers to jump in."
"Fie on them both. Big Lots’ ad was frenetic, generic and, worst of all, there was no call to action (except their sign off). Kohl’s ad was dark..."
"[Kohl's ad] may feel too much like a “very special holiday episode of Game of Thrones” but it’s attention-getting."

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27 Comments on "The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Big Lots vs. Kohl’s"


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Max Goldberg
Guest

Big Lots gets my vote. Their spot is infectious with happiness and joy. Kohl’s is merely a commercial.

Aakash Varma
Guest

Spot-on!

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

I think Big Lots presented an upbeat and positive family-oriented, festive spot that balanced the spirit of the season with shopping at their stores. While somewhat subtle (at times it was difficult to tell whose ad this was), overall it was well done and effective. The Kohl’s spot, while epic in a “Game of Thrones” sort of motif, I thought was a little dark for the occasion. Overall, I give Big Lots the win here.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Big Lots for the win!

The commercial resonates well with everyone and puts everyone in the holiday spirit, without overwhelming the audience with branding messaging. While the Kohl’s Braveheart/Game of Thrones like scenario was fun, between the two, Big Lots takes the win and represents what the holidays are all about.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

Actually they both do a good job of connecting with their key target as well as offering an interesting way for new shoppers to jump in. I think the Kohl’s commercial is more creative and different and so it makes it stand out among the typical holiday commercials. Retailers need to mix it up more and I think that Kohl’s accomplishes this. Take a look at L.L. Bean’s new spot “Outsiders” – and you’ll see what I am talking about.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

Definitely two thumbs up for Kohl’s, Give Joy, Get Joy. Big Lots from the beginning was a little annoying on the ear with the contrived quartet singing Joy to the World. Using the Three Dog Night soundtrack was good but some of the inserts musically just didn’t work for me. I do like that Big Lots featured some short clips of their brand throughout the commercial because I felt the ad overall did not do a strong enough job of letting me know the retailer. Kohl’s, on the other hand, is a fantastic spot from the start. When the ad began, I immediately saw it was for Kohl’s. It was fun to watch, smart and cute when the girl said, “We didn’t get you anything.” It was half the length of Big Lots with me wanting to see more while Big Lots was too much of the same idea. So my vote undoubtedly goes to Kohl’s.

Naomi K. Shapiro
BrainTrust

Fie on them both. Big Lots’ ad was frenetic, generic and, worst of all, there was no call to action (except their sign off). Kohl’s ad was dark, with a sense of impending combat instead of concordance and good will, even down to someone being forgotten, a negative. I wish they both had set a better tone of joy and good will. After all, both had “joy” in their titles.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

My vote goes to Big Lots. Their spot is personal and intimate and celebrates the importance of family and friends. I think that will resonate with many.

Kohl’s advertisement is entertaining, but it’s somewhat aggressive (perhaps, Game of Thrones inspired!) and is very commercial. For me, it misses the true meaning of the holidays and is lacking in spirit.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

A couple of good commercials. Not certain either connected with core customers, however, both had a pretty clear message. My vote goes to Big Lots based on its upbeat, inclusive video.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Put my vote in the Big Lots column. For one thing, I could listen to/watch this more often than I could the Kohl’s spot, which is sort of a one-trick reindeer … er … pony. Once again, simplicity wins. The Big Lots spot is happy and the people seem real. The Kohl’s spot seems gimmicky and over-produced. Great the first time, but tiring the more you see it.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

The end of the Kohl’s spot is a bit of a downer. Kids get presents, you get cash? Parents want presents too, you know! Big Lots just has more fun with theirs, which hopefully the holidays are all about.

Sky Rota
BrainTrust
1 year 11 months ago

I love the real feeling of Big Lots! Winner!

Have a happy and healthy holiday everyone.

No school.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

In this Joy competition, Big Lots wins based on its upbeat emotional content. The inter-cuts of what look like mobile phone video clips were a nice touch too.

Kohl’s concept is far more creative, but I really don’t want to be reminded that holiday shopping is a battle that leaves me fundamentally disappointed with a handful of scrip.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Big Lots gets my vote. I think it was better after the singers at the beginning. That did not do anything to add to it for me. I also liked Kohl’s. But it was lacking compared to Big Lots. This is fun. What’s next?

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

My usual “full disclosure” to begin: I worked at Kohl’s from 1982 to 2006. I vote for their spot because it plays on the well-known angle of “Kohl’s Cash” in a creative way. It may feel too much like a “very special holiday episode of Game of Thrones” but it’s attention-getting.

I find the Big Lots commercial too generic — it could be a holiday ad for any store. And the use of the retro soundtrack is too reminiscent of the (excellent) Walmart campaign on the air right now.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Mohamed Amer
Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor
1 year 11 months ago

The edgy and creative factor goes to Kohl’s while Big Lots delivers the “as expected” message by ticking off all the requisite feel-good elements of the season.

Each of these commercials does a good job of appealing to their targeted market. For Kohl’s it’s a younger consumer and for Big Lots it’s more of a Baby Boomer.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Big Lots! The “hit” they give the viewer with the quick transition switch to the upbeat familiar Three Dog Night rendition, is a brilliant use as an emotional insert, featuring “all of us” … greatly held my attention. Kohl’s was more of what most would expect from a holiday spot.

Karen McNeely
Guest

I was seriously concerned with the Big Lots spot in the beginning, but it quickly won me over. It definitely put in in the holiday spirit. On the other hand the Kohl’s ad started promising and ended up as a huge slap in the face to moms. Yep, you do all the work and what you get is the Kohl’s cash? Making a key component of your target audience feel unappreciated is never a smart move. For me the Kohl’s ad is a big loser.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

I liked them both but have seen the Kohl’s one a lot. The sentiment is great with the kid wanting to give back, but the music in the Big Lots commercial is infectious. So the Big Lots ad gets my vote.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Big Lots hands down! The idea of telling someone you didn’t get them a gift was too negative for my taste and then hanging the ad on the Kohl’s cash? Meh … for my 2 cents.

Peter Luff
BrainTrust

Big Lots for me. Kohl’s started big and then fizzled to no more than your average ad. Big Lots had energy which made it more engaging.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Just by default, I think I’d give the nod to Kohl’s: I’m up to my (not yet) frost-tipped ears in jazzy, singing ads exhorting us to “share” or “celebrate” or whatever by buying something.

But beyond that, I actually liked he Kohl’s spot: short — bless them! — memorable imagery and actually said something specific about the store.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Big Lots! This commercial made me smile and laugh out loud. Seeing families together, doing things families do. Dad who can’t sing does it anyway. It was heartwarming. And the store tie-ins worked without screaming “SHOP HERE!” I would, however, lose the carolers at the start of the commercial. Other than repeating the word “joy” they felt out of place to me.

The Kohl’s commercial theme was what? Christmas is war? And the poor woman in the white sweater who didn’t get anything? That special moment sucked the life out of whatever message Kohl’s was trying to get across. Even the Kohl’s cash “Everyone’s a winner!” line didn’t work. This commercial left me shaking my head.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
1 year 11 months ago

The Big Lots spot is really well produced. But the bane of business today are ads created with A-grade production and D-grade communication. This one isn’t D grade communication, but it doesn’t get much above a C. While Big Lots eventually gets to some things that matter it takes a very long time. We can expect consumers to have clicked away (literally or in their attention) long before we get to anything that matters.

The Kohl’s spot opens very on target and the fighting hordes open is very clever. So, all in all I think it’s far, far more effective. And yet, the cash at the end is a complete non-sequitur and really hurts the ending of the commercial — leaving me confused rather than enlightened.

I vote Kohl’s … but with that big caveat.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
1 year 11 months ago

The guy in the kitchen belting out “joy to the world” was all the convincing I needed. Was there another ad? Oh yeah, the one with the Handmaid’s Tale/Hunger Games motif — I go with “joy to the world.”

But then again, Kohl’s dystopian Christmas targets Xmas-sketptics where Kolh’s tells their audience: we are all hip to the scam, the kids shake down their parents and the parents get cash. Everyone’s happy. Oh, Merry Christmas. Wink wink.

Jeff Miller
Guest

The Big Lots ad could be interchanged with any retailer at the end (Walmart, Target, Dollar Store, eBay, Amazon, etc). It is happy and cute and is trying to integrate user generated looking and authentic content but it in no way tells the consumer to go online or walk into a Big Lots to do anything. Not sure that Big Lots needs to spend money on branding itself a happy place. Has the agency who created this ad ever walked into a Big Lots? Not a place with a lot of singing. Money better spent in a actual message or even a call to action.

The Kohl’s ads stands out both in the creative since it is disruptive but also clearly communicates an actual marketing and sales message which the point of advertising. Buy a gift for someone else and make them happy and get Kohl’s cash for you.

Aakash Varma
Guest

It’s delightful to see big brands coming out innovatively for the holiday season with different promotions and welcome ads for customers. The two ads discussed in the article by Big Lots and Kohl’s are good and customers will surely like it.

For me Big Lots’ “Share the Joy” is the clear winner which has better connected with the audience by using eye catching, real life-like videos, awesome sound track and customer connection. It makes consumers live the moment with the ad. It would be really interesting to see at the end of season which of these retailers win the game!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"They both do a good job of connecting with their key target as well as offering an interesting way for new shoppers to jump in."
"Fie on them both. Big Lots’ ad was frenetic, generic and, worst of all, there was no call to action (except their sign off). Kohl’s ad was dark..."
"[Kohl's ad] may feel too much like a “very special holiday episode of Game of Thrones” but it’s attention-getting."

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