The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Kohl’s vs. T.J. Maxx

Discussion
Nov 17, 2015

Despite strong consumer sentiment and solid job numbers, a recent spate of disappointing earnings reports has some feeling a bit uneasy about the retail industry’s prospects for the holiday selling season. A strong ad campaign can be a difference-maker and this week RetailWire serves up two different spots from Kohl’s and T.J. Maxx for your reviewing pleasure.

The two spots — Kohl’s "Celebrate Togetherness" and T.J. Maxx’s "Bring Back the Holidays" — focus on what makes the season special on a human level, away from the commercial emphasis.

Will these reminders of what’s important achieve their reverse psychological intent and boost traffic and sales at the two chains? Last week’s winner — Macy’s "The Wish Writer" — employed a similar approach, so it’s clear that soft sell works in the opinion many RetailWire readers. Which spot will win this week? The decision is yours.

[Image: Kohl's]
Celebrate Togertherness – Kohl’s/YouTube

[Image: TJ Maxx]

Bring Back the Holidays – T.J. Maxx/YouTube

What is your critique of Kohl’s “Celebrate Together” and T.J. Maxx’s “Bring Back the Holidays” spots? Which 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
"T.J. Maxx’s voiceover is a little too on-the-nose. I understand what they were going after but a little more subtlety would have gone a long way. This sounds more like a press release read aloud to music than it does an advertisement."

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13 Comments on "The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Kohl’s vs. T.J. Maxx"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

Kohl’s spot goes to the heart of the holidays, while reminding people that they stock a full line of kitchen goods. T.J. Maxx starts in the same vein, but turns into a sales pitch which ruins the effect. In my opinion, this round goes to Kohl’s.

Joan Treistman
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

Kohl’s wins my vote. T.J. Maxx’s commercial is too preachy for me. It’s reminiscent of a political campaign and consequently is a turn-off for me. Kohl’s on the other hand is subtle, informational and pleasant at the same time. It can easily reinforce the relationship with its current customers and resonate with prospects.

Zel Bianco
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

T.J. Maxx’s voiceover is a little too on-the-nose. I understand what they were going after but a little more subtlety would have gone a long way. This sounds more like a press release read aloud to music than it does an advertisement.

Kohl’s does a nice job of reminding people of all the things they buy for a holiday party other than gifts.

Tina Lahti
Guest
Tina Lahti
7 years 13 days ago

The Kohl’s spot seems inauthentic and contrived. It reminds me of in-your-face product placements in popular movies. The T.J. Maxx ad has a real message that fits with their business model.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

T.J. Maxx grabbed my attention faster, but Kohl’s kept me involved. This round goes to T.J. Maxx, but not by much. I am also impressed T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s announced they will stay closed Thanksgiving Day. There is still time for more retailers to do the right thing.

Brian Kelly
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

“Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmothers house we go … “

I’m not buying it. Why is this the model? This is the fourth holiday retail branding spot and all have been set it in this out-of-date iconic setting. Is this the preferred inspirational experience? Where’s the data to prove it? Where’s the data that proves “institutional image” ad viewership drives site traffic or outlet preference?

Kohl’s does show some “reality,” a mixer goof or a recipe gone wrong, which improves its relevance.

Retailers are better off investing into store based experiential attributes than these fantasy confections. Add a cashier, a greeter, a stock runner or a customer service person. Cut down the lines, out-of-stocks and overextended temps. Have more gift boxes, tissue and shopping bags.

When the after-action report is written on the holiday, does any retailer factor in the impact of these “emotional” ads?

As Mrs. Claus says to the head Elf, “retail ain’t for sissies!”

Mohamed Amer
Guest
Mohamed Amer
7 years 13 days ago

With a focus on the kitchen as a focal holiday site, Kohl’s does a good job of sharing our human foibles in attempt to keep things real. It closes by featuring brands that emphasize the culinary theme.

With a focus on giving gifts and the imagination, T.J. Maxx does a good job as well of highlighting the human side of the holidays, bringing families together. Although a risky move, the voice-over works to further differentiate the company from most other retailers.

Both spots emphasized multiple generations coming together and sharing the holidays as well as the requisite canine.

This was close, but slight edge to T.J. Maxx.

Lee Kent
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

I liked the throwback feeling of the T.J. Maxx spot. Many of us these days are tired of all the technology and modern day stuff and simply long for those feelings of yesterday when the Holidays were about LOVE and not SALE.

The Kohl’s ad just looked too contrived.

For my 2 cents.

Kris Kelvin
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

Hearing a Beatle’s tune, rendered all but incomprehensible in that Kohl’s spot, still has me scratching my head. A long way to go (and pay, no doubt) for that “All Together Now” music-hall refrain, not remotely associated with the holidays.

T.J. Maxx was thematically similar, but benefits from an understated directness that I appreciated.

Karen S. Herman
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

I am delighted by the “more value on what really matters” message of “Bring Back the Holidays” from T. J. Maxx.

Setting the tone with scenes of family dressed in warm sweaters and clothes you’d love to curl up in, with a voice over of “Imagine a world where the holidays were about people again…” then juxtaposing marketing jargon like “doorbuster” and “sale” with scenes of more family and expressions of love, this commercial invites you along as it addresses holiday commercialism head-on in a charming way. I especially like the fact core brand messages of “amazing prices, popular brands, thoughtful gifts” are warmly referenced throughout.

Should resonate nicely with T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods customers, and also with shoppers who are striving to be authentic and hoping to enjoy the true spirit of the holidays.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

Both present a “pretty” picture for the Holidays, but my vote is for T.J. Maxx. I found the feel of the ad to be warmer.

Karen McNeely
Guest
7 years 13 days ago

T.J. Maxx knocked it out of the park. I literally had tears in my eyes watching it. The fact they are closed on Thanksgiving says that it isn’t just an adman’s pitch, but that their actions support the ad’s message. The Kohl’s ad wasn’t bad, but in my viewpoint it lacked authenticity.

Donna Brockway
Guest
Donna Brockway
7 years 13 days ago

Found T.J. Maxx a little “preachy” in trying to differentiate their Christmas shopping philosophy, while Kohl’s just showed warm, happy people together during the holidays — no preaching needed.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"T.J. Maxx’s voiceover is a little too on-the-nose. I understand what they were going after but a little more subtlety would have gone a long way. This sounds more like a press release read aloud to music than it does an advertisement."

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