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It was not until as recently as 2000 that GPS was approved by the Defense Department for use by civilians in the U.S.

Having produced a range of GPS devices for different markets (drivers, cyclists, runners, etc.), Garmin began its holiday campaign in 2006. The ads show travelers at various stages of their journey, some lost and others finding their way with the help of Garmin.

The instantly recognizable soundtrack narrates the journey with a witty reimagining of the ‘Carol of the Bells.’

Garmin proceeded to create a number of ads in this format, all of which owe their success largely to the soundtrack. The familiar tune taps into its existing association with Christmas to slyly set the holiday tone.

In one rendition, lyrics such as ‘I missed my turn, I’m gonna burn, wife’s gonna freak, future is meek’ humorously describe a lost driver’s journey.

In a later edition, the driver has the benefit of a Garmin device with similarly appropriate lyrics such as ‘where’s shopping mall, there’s shopping mall,’ whereas throughout the campaign humor is elicited with nonsensical lines such as ‘look, there’s a moose, get me a noose.’

The campaign therefore shows a number of different stories through which it demonstrates the advantages of owning a Garmin product. The comedy and familiarity in the accompanying song renders the campaign easily memorable, further reinforced by the concluding catchphrase ‘give-a, give-a, give-a, give-a Garmin.’

This song, enjoyed by some and found to be inherently irritating by others, has been the source of much debate surrounding this campaign, further adding to its longevity and success in commanding attention.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

A memorable song goes a long way to creating a memorable campaign -- even if half of all listeners hate it.

Table of Contents

Intro150 Years of the Best Holiday Campaigns
Chapter 1 The Genesis of Holiday Window Displays
Chapter 2 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
Chapter 3 How Coca-Cola Invented The Father of Christmas (Or did they?)
Chapter 4 Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
Chapter 5 Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Chapter 6 Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
Chapter 7 Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised
Chapter 8 NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
Chapter 9 Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation
Chapter 10 Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
Chapter 11 Folgers Advertises the Intangible
Chapter 12 Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy an Ad Agency
Chapter 13 Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming
Chapter 14 Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
Chapter 15 M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing
Chapter 16 Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
Chapter 17 Target Keeps it Simple with Their Black Friday Catalog Focuses on Price
Chapter 18 Pampers Silent Night Raises $40 Million for Charity
Chapter 19 Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress
Chapter 20 John Lewis Focuses on Storytelling Over Brand
Chapter 21 Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools
Chapter 22 American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
Chapter 23 Apple Misunderstood Campaign Makes Technology and Family a Priority
Chapter 24 REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition