The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Old Navy vs. T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods

Discussion
Source: Old Navy - "Tonight! You Get A Gift"
Nov 26, 2019
George Anderson

Week one of the RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge is in the books and Etsy, in somewhat of a surprise, has outpolled Amazon.com.

Week two brings us a new matchup, with retailers Old Navy and TJX Cos. (T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods) delivering 30-second spots that feature celebrities and discount/sale price messaging.

Old Navy’s spot stars Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, Doogie Howser, M.D. and others) playing the role of a talk show host (think Ellen Degeneres or Oprah) who leads an audience in a call and repeat sequence:

“I am grateful.” (audience repeats)

“I am joyful.” (audience repeats)

“And I am getting all the gifts I want this holiday!” (audience goes nuts)

As the audience is losing its collective mind over the gifts they will receive this year, a voiceover tells viewers that they should hurry into Old Navy where they will enjoy 40 percent off everything they buy.

The TJX commercial features Zachary Levi (Chuck, Shazam!, Tangled and more) in a musical number in which he plays a pied piper (minus a flute). He invites others in a Christmassy street scene to follow him to a place where they will find “the inspiration” they are searching for this holiday season. The crowd follows Mr. Levi to the magical place where a voiceover encourages viewers to “spend less, gift better at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your critique of the Christmas spots from Old Navy and TJX Cos.? Which retailer does a better job of connecting with its core customers while reaching out to new shoppers with its holiday commercials?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods spot is more thoughtful for this time of year, is more pleasing to the senses, and is just more effective on all levels."
"TJX for the win (although ask me again on January 1 when I can’t get this song out of my head)."
"I’m not in love with either spot but I would give the nod to TJX. They do a better job than Old Navy communicating “brand,” not just price."

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20 Comments on "The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Old Navy vs. T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods"


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Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

While neither ad is particularly inspiring or emotive, I think TJX takes this challenge. Old Navy’s is direct and pragmatic – come in for 40 percent off everything. However, tapping into the treasure hunt approach to shopping has been a winning recipe for off- pricers for quite some time, and the somewhat silly TJX spot, at minimum, reminds viewers of the thrill of the hunt, even when shopping for gifts.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

It’s a tie. They both work in terms of product promotion, humor, quality of production and fun. Since every retailer blindly gives everything away this week, both ads capture awareness as well, which is paramount. What more could you ask for?

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

The TJX spot resonated with me. The festive holiday walk puts the viewer in the holiday spirit. The commercial clearly communicates the sponsor and ends with the phrase, “spend less, gift better at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods.” Plus, a little levity at the very end seals the deal. Core or new customers can get the message and the spirit with this commercial.

Casey Golden
BrainTrust
8 days 18 hours ago

Agree. Old Navy felt more about money and obligatory gift-giving vs. a festive feeling that inspired me to want to shop for the holiday.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I love everything Broadway, so TJX is the clear winner for me. It’s more than that though because I like TV commercials that aren’t, well, overly commercial.

The Old Navy ad is all about savings so it’s true to its brand. And I have to give them credit for adding a lower third super with its web address throughout the entire ad. There are so many commercials this year – TJX included – that don’t tell you who they are for until the very end. Why keep shoppers guessing?

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

I’m not in love with either spot but I would give the nod to TJX. They do a better job than Old Navy communicating “brand,” not just price. The spot also does a good job overcoming the “self-purchase treasure hunt” image of the TJX divisions in order to promote a more seasonal message about holiday giving.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

For Old Navy it’s an unabashed, full-throated price is everything message, down to the specific 40 percent off visual and voice over. Effective for existing customers, but very doubtful it can expand that base during the holidays.

On the other hand, the T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods spot cuts to the core of inspired gift finding while reminding the audience of the low price value to boot. The spot is effective for current customers with entertaining visual scenes and a musical score to capture your attention rather than a simple price message.

The T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods spot is more thoughtful for this time of year, is more pleasing to the senses, and is just more effective on all levels.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Honestly, neither makes me want to get out of my chair and go shopping. I admire the Pied Piper approach of the TJX spot because it is interesting and unique. Neil Patrick Harris in the Old Navy spot is undoubtedly excited — however, I personally found it too over the top and a bit annoying. So, with that said, I’ll choose the TJX commercial as the winner of this battle.

With the economy doing well and holiday enthusiasm seemingly high, I expect ALL retailers to have a better season this year.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

While Old Navy’s funny, positive and energetic spot will stand out, Oprah giveaway spoofs have become cliche. Conversely, the fun, festive spot for TJX Companies will resonate among shoppers scrambling to buy inspired, last-minute gifts that aren’t duds. The core benefits are variety, convenience and affordability (vs. cost savings for Old Navy’s ad), so I give TJX the edge.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Great comments and insight, Lisa!

David Naumann
BrainTrust

The TJX Companies ad has much more of a Christmas feel to it and we can all relate to the challenge of identifying the perfect gifts while staying within our budget. It is much more inspirational than the Old Navy ad.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

While the TJX spot earns great marks for making a seasonal connection, the brand plays a very small role which minimizes the impact of the ad. The Old Navy spot is clean and consistent from a brand standpoint. It wins in terms of commanding initial attention and conveying the promotional and seasonal message which will resonate with core shoppers. The “Gifts for Everyone” message will help connect with new shoppers.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

My vote goes to TJX Companies. At least there is a “’tis the season” feeling to it. The Old Navy spot just hits me as off somehow. The message of “just get more STUFF” and “RECEIVE” versus give, rubbed me the wrong way. I get it, they’re retailers and it is that time of the year. And it’s not about Norman Rockwell scenes all the time. I guess I just yearn for simpler times. Sometimes the crassness of the season rubs me the wrong way.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

TJX for the win (although ask me again on January 1 when I can’t get this song out of my head). Consumers know they can get a deal at both places, but I think the focus on magic and treasures to be found in-store is a more powerful message than 40 percent off.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I actually don’t like either of these spots. Rather than declare a tie, or a marginal winner, as some of my kinder BrainTrust peers have, I’m giving two thumbs down to both spots.

Kathleen Fischer
Guest

The TJX song and festive holiday scenes clearly communicate the brand’s message and there is the addition of levity to show that the brand does not take itself too seriously. These factors make this commercial the winner of this challenge.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Neither ad does anything for me. The TJ Maxx, etc ad has been playing so much that I tired of it days ago. Don’t look forward to seeing it for another few weeks or however long it is scheduled. I did not care for the Old Navy spot either. Both were disappointing.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This one is a tough call. Both seem on-brand for each of them, but I’ll give the nod to TJX as it felt like it gave a more compelling reason to shop there and discover something new.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Old Navy was just any old ad with a promo, but it did show us some of their offerings while TJX showed us nothing. They were both pretty blah. But I will give my 2 cents to TJX because it got me sort of in the Holiday mood!

James Tenser
BrainTrust

Both of these commercials have been in heavy rotation for the past few days. Both have grown irritating because of the forced enthusiasm they convey. Sure, holiday commercials are supposed to be cheerful, but not tiring to watch.

On balance I give the TJX spot an edge, because at least it incorporates some holiday spirit. The Old Navy spot seems to offer gifts as self-gratification. It could just as well be about Singles Day in China.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods spot is more thoughtful for this time of year, is more pleasing to the senses, and is just more effective on all levels."
"TJX for the win (although ask me again on January 1 when I can’t get this song out of my head)."
"I’m not in love with either spot but I would give the nod to TJX. They do a better job than Old Navy communicating “brand,” not just price."

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