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November 22, 2023
December 7, 2023

8 Best Thanksgiving Campaigns We’ve Loved So Far + What We Can Learn From Them

Shirly Christy

8 Best Thanksgiving Campaigns We’ve Loved So Far + What We Can Learn From Them

November 22, 2023
December 7, 2023
Shirly Christy


With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s not just the pumpkin pies and the roasted turkey that we’re reminded of, but it’s also the gratitude that comes along with the season. 

While it’s a time to celebrate and feast for us, this is a great opportunity for brands to connect and express their appreciation to their audience on a deeper level. Over the years, we have seen some fantastic Thanksgiving campaigns that not only made the brand popular but also gave some great marketing lessons. So dive in as we explore the top 8 best Thanksgiving campaigns we’ve seen so far and lessons we can all learn from them. 

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Kicking off the list, is the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade is more than just balloons and gigantic floats. It’s not your typical marketing campaign with flashy sales and discounts flowing around, rather it is a cherished tradition of the season. 

What started in 1924 as a way for Macy's to celebrate the immigrant employees who made the store the success it was has evolved into an annual Thanksgiving extravaganza that captures the hearts of millions. The parade is a reflection of Macy’s commitment to tradition. In a world where there are numerous brands entering the market, the Macy’s parade has become a cultural experience that spans across generations. Several families gather around the popular streets of New York City or watch the grandeur on televisions. 

What do we learn from this campaign? 

Macy’s teaches us that staying consistent and following traditions can bring the right awareness to a brand. Instead of jumping on trends like modern brands, Macy’s stability teaches us the best branding lessons. The iconic balloons and popular cartoon floats evoke a sense of nostalgia, creating a connection that goes beyond their consumers. 

#ShareTheMeal by World Food Programme

This is yet another popular yet heartwarming Thanksgiving campaign of all time. The World Food Programme's #ShareTheMeal campaign stands as a powerful reminder of the true spirit of Thanksgiving, which really lies in giving back to the community. This innovative campaign takes the essence of gratitude and transforms it into a tangible force for good.

By introducing a simple app, the World Food Programme has made it incredibly easy for individuals to translate their sense of thankfulness into action. The app allows users to share a meal with a person in need with just a few taps on their smartphones. This seamless integration of technology coupled with the spirit of giving amplified the impact of the campaign and made it accessible to a global audience. The genius of #ShareTheMeal lies not only in its simplicity but in its ability to tap into the genuine desire people have to make a positive difference. 

What do we learn from this campaign? 

The campaign teaches us to always align ourselves with the original core values of our brand. This Thanksgiving campaign emphasizes the importance of sharing abundance and fostering a sense of global community. This #TheShareTheMeal campaign not only raised awareness about global hunger but also positioned the World Food Programme as an organization that understands the true meaning of gratitude and generosity. In a world where consumerism is on the rise, this campaign teaches us that brands can play a pivotal role in acts of kindness and philanthropy, creating a ripple effect of positive change. 

REI’s #Optoutside campaign 

REI’s #Optoutside campaign is fondly recalled during the Thanksgiving and Black Friday season. While both of these days are known for blockbuster sales, REI did something different. With their #OptOutside campaign, they laid a bold testament to the brand's unwavering commitment to its values. 

They made a radical decision to close the doors of their showrooms on one of the busiest shopping days of the year and encouraged both employees and customers to spend the day outdoors instead. This groundbreaking campaign goes beyond just a marketing strategy, it recognizes the essence of Thanksgiving beyond the pursuit of material goods and embodies the spirit of gratitude in this season. 

The success of the #OptOutside campaign lies not in the profits it forgoes on Black Friday but in the brand loyalty it cultivated for itself. By aligning their actions with its values, REI resonated with a growing segment of conscious consumers who value authenticity and purpose over mindless consumption. The campaign created a ripple effect, inspiring other brands to rethink their approach to the holiday shopping season. 

What do we learn from this campaign? 

REI’s #OptOutside teaches a valuable lesson: sometimes, going outside the stereotypes and prioritizing values over short-term profits which can pay off in the long run. REI's bold move was not just a marketing strategy — it was a strategic decision that spoke to the hearts of consumers. By demonstrating a commitment to something beyond sales figures, REI fostered a deep sense of trust and loyalty among its customer base. The #OptOutside campaign stands as a shining example of how prioritizing values can be a powerful marketing tool that reaches your bottom line. 

Coca-Cola's 'Thank You Meal'

Coca-Cola's 'Thank You Meal' campaign serves as a heartwarming example of how a global food giant can make a significant impact through small and thoughtful gestures. Coca Cola’s Thank You Meal Campaign laid on the foundation of simplicity transcending the original nature of consumerism. 

For every Coca-Cola purchased, the brand pledged to provide a meal to a family in need through a partnership with McDonald’s and American Red Cross. With the campaign, Coca-Cola elevated the act of buying a beverage into a meaningful contribution to a social cause. This campaign not only emphasized the brand's appreciation for its consumers but also demonstrated a commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

What do we learn from this campaign? 

The lesson we learn from this campaign is that small gestures can be transformed by integrating a charitable element into it. This campaign strengthened Coca-Cola’s brand reputation and also showed a genuine dedication to their corporate social responsibility activities. Coca-Cola's 'Thank You Meal' campaign not only nourished families in need but nourished the brand's image, proving that corporate generosity, even on a small scale can create positive perceptions among consumers. 

Airbnb’s #OneLessStranger campaign 

Airbnb's #OneLessStranger campaign is one step away from all traditional marketing campaigns. They framed their campaign in such a way that it tapped into the desire of connecting with our loved ones and creating a community.

Do you remember Grandma Wanda’s accidental text to an unknown person, who later attended her Thanksgiving dinner? Well Airbnb, played the game of wits and soon took the opportunity to host Grandma Wanda and her misdialed stranger-friend. 

While this campaign might not be entirely ideated by Airbnb, they seized the opportunity and hosted Grandma Wanda and all her guests for Thanksgiving Dinner at one of their special Airbnb locations. 

What did we learn from this campaign? 

The lesson from #OneLessStranger is for brands to start focusing on building genuine connections to create a loyal customer base. Airbnb’s campaign shows that small acts of kindness don’t just promote the brand, but also create a lasting impact on the global front. 

Stove Top's #ThanksgivingDinnerPants campaign

Comedy is a serious business and Stove Top definitely took it to the next level with this campaign. As part of the #ThanksgivingDinnerPants campaign, Stove Top turned a common experience in our household into an opportunity for laughter and connection.

By creating expandable waistbands for Thanksgiving revelers, Stove Top not only addressed a relatable issue but also demonstrated a keen understanding of its audience. The campaign embraced the humor inherent in the holiday indulgence — or rather, overindulgence — and made the brand instantly approachable to its consumers. 

What do we learn from this campaign? 

The brilliance of this campaign lies in the ability to make even a mundane problem a viral marketing sensation. This campaign was highly relatable and lighthearted by alluding to the post feast discomfort everyone is familiar with. 

In a crowded market, where brands often vie for attention with serious messaging, Stove Top's humorous approach set it apart, proving that laughter can be a powerful tool for engagement. The takeaway is for brands to inject humor and create experiences that make your brand more approachable in the eyes of your target audience. 

Samsung’s #UnwrapTheFeels Thanksgiving campaign 

Out of all the Thanksgiving campaigns we have seen so far, Samsung's "Unwrap the Feels" campaign stands as a testament to the brand's commitment to creating emotional connections with its audience.

The campaign cleverly shows the act of unwrapping emotions with Samsung's innovative products. Whether it's unboxing the latest smartphone or unveiling a  home appliance, Samsung positions its products as catalysts for emotional moments. The tagline "Unwrap the Feels" captures the essence of the campaign, inviting consumers to associate Samsung not just with gadgets but with the emotions and experiences these gadgets facilitate.

What do we learn from this campaign? 

In the competitive landscape of technology and tech product marketing, brands can elevate themselves by emphasizing the emotional impact of their products. This campaign reflects an understanding that technology, when seamlessly integrated into our lives, brings in more meaningful connections. 

Budweiser’s #KingOfLeftovers campaign 

Budweiser has consistently stood out with its iconic campaigns that celebrate tradition, unity, and the spirit of togetherness. This campaign too goes beyond just promoting its beer by tapping into the emotions of Thanksgiving, emphasizing the importance of sharing moments with friends and family. The brand often weaves in themes of gratitude, nostalgia, and Americana into its campaigns, creating a sense of connection with its diverse audience.

Budweiser introduced two Thanksgiving-themed products designed to bring joy and excitement to the festivities. The Bud can turkey stand takes a cue from the classic beer can chicken recipe, offering fans a unique and flavorful way to cook their turkey for the season. Secondly, Budweiser introduced a lockable box for Thanksgiving leftovers, recognizing the universal truth that the post-Thanksgiving feast often involves putting away some tasty leftovers. 

What do we learn from this campaign? 

Budweiser's Thanksgiving campaign is a testament to its ability to adapt to the current situation while maintaining a festive and celebratory spirit. By providing innovative solutions for holiday cooking and leftovers, Budweiser not only showcases its creativity but also positions itself as a brand that understands and caters to the evolving needs of its consumers during the season. 

Are you ready with your brand campaign for Thanksgiving? 

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, it’s important to remain authentic, creative, and create a connection that shines through. These campaigns we’ve looked at not only captured our attention but also spoke of the enduring power of branding. If you want to make the next winning creative for the holiday season or use AI to resize it for different social networks, check out Artwork Flow and explore how its brand compliance software solutions can make the difference.

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