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There is nothing especially novel about companies adding a philanthropic dimension to their operations, as aptly demonstrated by Pampers’ campaign which pledged 1 tetanus vaccine for third-world children per pack of diapers purchased.

Unlike most Christmas ads, however, this campaign did away with all the traditional sparkle and exuberance of the season, with the only reference being in the softly hummed song ‘silent night.’

The ad shows a number of sleeping babies from around the world before simply informing the viewer of the company’s charitable program.

The advertisement operates on a number of emotional levels.

The song is a metaphoric word-play, referencing the season while also conjuring the idea of a baby staying dry and sleeping through the night.

The images are exclusively of young babies which, much like cute animals, have a propensity to capture attention and evoke emotion, especially that of mothers.

Finally, the vaccine offer implicitly raises the notion of sick and dying children around the world, tapping into the audience’s sympathy and inviting them to get involved in the cause and purchase Pampers’ product.

As the ad’s creator, Tris Gates-Bonarius, explains, people often want to look away from “types of ads that show children in a sad way,” even if they then feel guilty for their reaction. Conversely, the Pampers campaign attempts to appeal to emotions of sympathy much more subtly to motivate customers without driving them away.

The campaign proceeded to be a resounding success, and by 2008 over 40 million vaccines had been funded.

It then proceeded to diverge in two different directions.

A new ad championing the philanthropy again showed a number of mothers and children from around the world and explained the cause. Meanwhile, the sleeping babies ad has been re-run as a Christmas campaign but without the philanthropic element. Crucially, the messages of charity and silent nights in each ad have been retained from the first version; Pampers has successfully split a single campaign into two, separately maintaining Christmas and charity themes.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Make philanthropy a part of the customer experience to give consumers another reason to visit your store — and feel good about themselves in the process.

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