Julia: Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild Podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life, in-the-wild stories about business and marketing.

Merry Christmas, friends! Or at least a few days early. I hope that you are enjoying the holidays. Per usual, we do this every year, we bring you a Christmas episode that’s compiled stories from our team. So you’re gonna get to hear a bunch of stories from them on either a Christmas memory or a marketing Christmas cross-section memory. We’ve got a whole slew of them. You’re gonna love them! But before we get started with their stories, I’m gonna kick this off with my story.

I’ll be honest with you, it is December 8, and I should have recorded this like three weeks ago, but I did not have a story. I could not think of anything until this morning when Roger walked down to the living room. We were all just hanging out in her living room, Maddie was un-decorating the tree. The child does not know how to decorate. Hopefully, that is a skill she learns next year, but she’s taking ornaments off. I was drinking my tea, I was scrolling Instagram, and Roger came down, and he said, “Julia, I found the best gifts for the dogs.”

So quick reminder, we have three dogs. Three is way too many; nobody buys three. If you want one, I will give you one of them. I am always the person who buys them gifts. Every Christmas, I fill their stockings, I’m like a total dog mom. Buy Max like 100 tennis balls for the year, buy Lucy like a special chew toy, and Roger rolls his eyes at me. So the fact that he walked down and was like, “Yeah, I bought a gift for our dog.” I was like, “First of all, who are you and what did you do with my husband? Second of all, what did you buy them?” 

So when he was scrolling through his social media and came across an ad that said it was an indestructible toy, it was like a plush indestructible toy. The one brand that I know that advertises that is Kong. And our dogs, specifically Lucy, rips Kong toys to pieces. They last like maybe three weeks in our home. Normal stuffed toys for dogs last like one hour in our home. And so he found these, and it says that they’re indestructible. And I was like, “I don’t even believe that. That’s not possible. Our dogs will prove that it is wrong.” And he said, “Well, the good news is if they do destroy it, we get a new one for free.” 

So guys, this is the power of marketing. He saw this guarantee, this is indestructible, or if not, we’ll give you one for free, and we are going to put that guarantee to a test this Christmas! So that is my quick story. I’ll keep you posted on how these dogs do with these supposedly indestructible toys. But in the meantime, I’m gonna let you guys hear the rest of our stories by our team, and I’ll be back to close us out at the end.

Ryann: Hey everyone, Ryann from Stratos Creative Marketing here. And I want to share with you my favorite holiday marketing campaign of 2023. So as an elder millennial, what Gen Z is trying to bring back nostalgia wise from the 90s and the early aughts is not always my favorite. But Walmart did an amazing job this year bringing back one of my favorite high school movies for their Black Friday campaign. They chose to bring back Mean Girls. I loved it so much! A lot of the key characters were there, which was fun. I mean Rachel McAdams did not show up so the real Regina George was not there, but that is okay. My favorite, Lindsay Lohan, a ginger – I’m a ginger. I love to see a comeback story, happy that she is doing well – was there. They had key scenes from the movie with that spin of it being a Black Friday deal. So whoever is Walmart’s marketing agency, well done, so, so fetch. Yes, that’s right! I just tried to make fetch happen. 

Did they happen to tie this in because Mean Girls, The Musical is coming out in early 2024? I am sure. So again, great job. Full circle moment. But yeah, if you haven’t seen the Mean Girls Black Friday ads, you need to see them! Have a happy holiday!

Justine: Hey, everyone, this is Justine. I’m a content coordinator here at Stratos. This Black Friday, something happened to me. I brought my kids to the mall, which I normally don’t do on Black Friday weekend because it’s so crazy. But I brought them to play at this indoor playground. And while they were having a snack break, I wandered into a store that I never shop at, and I found this jacket that I really liked, so I bought it. I wanted to buy another one for my mother-in-law, but they didn’t have her size. So two hours later when I went home, I had bought mine at the store, but I went online to buy another jacket, only to find that it was $20 less because of a cyber sale. 

And this really made me reflect on the relationships I have with businesses and feeling supported in whatever they’re offering. So this wasn’t enough to make me go back, return the jacket and buy a new one online because it was only 20 bucks. But just thinking about how I could have saved it and going down that rabbit hole of should I return this or should I not, it didn’t make me feel that great. And it made me a little less excited about this new jacket I bought. 

In contrast, there was another company that I bought from. They’re called Hobby Hobby, and they sell these tapable language learning books. So you get a book and you get a pen that’s like a wand, and if you tap it in the book, it reads along with you. And what I really love about them is they have really creative Black Friday sales. So throughout the year, you can buy bundles of their books. They have these different packages you can buy online. The bigger the bundle, the more you save. I have bought a set from them in the past, I think I bought it last year, and the bundles are the same price throughout the year. But on Black Friday, they do more creative bundling sets. So for example, you can buy this home and family bundle, and their Black Friday sale is you can buy three of these same bundles for a special Black Friday price. And people can get creative with this. 

So they offer books in multiple languages. So you can buy the same set of books in three different languages if you wanna expand your collection, or you can buy three of the same sets in the same language if you wanna gift it to your family or friends or buy it for a school or daycare. And they had different sales like that. So they just bundled it differently than how they usually do, and they have a separate Black Friday sale price for that. But what I love about their Black Friday sale is that there’s less pressure to purchase during the holidays if you’re not ready. There’s also no remorse if you’ve bought the other bundles at a different time of the year. And like I mentioned, I already had bought a bundle from them before. I bought a starter set. And with their Black Friday sales, I was able to buy other books that were not part of our collection. 

So in the end, I am really happy with the purchases that I got. I am really grateful to be able to see my kids open these gifts and to see my mother-in-law open her gift and to spread that thoughtfulness and that joy in the holidays. And this has definitely made me think more about my future holiday shopping, and I will be keeping an eye out for businesses that are creative with their holiday sales and not high-pressure. I hope you all have a happy holiday.

Savannah: Merry Christmas, everyone! This is Savannah. This year I’m coming to you from Lexington, Kentucky. It’s our first Christmas in Lexington, so one thing we did not realize is that unlike back up north, you cannot just go to a tree farm and be like, “Hey, I wanna chop down a tree.” They’re pretty limited here. So they actually have a reservation system and you have to be one of the few lucky people that had reserved a tree a few months ahead of time and went and tagged it, and it’s this whole ordeal. So this year we’re like, “That’s okay, we’ll just go to a tree lot.” And it works out because we were a little bit on a tighter budget this Christmas, so we’re like, we’ll try to find a cheap tree. 

So we head over to Home Depot, and they have an advertisement for $30 to $40 trees. And we’re like, “Oh, that’s perfect.” So we head over into the 30 to $40 tree section. And you guys, these are the most scrawny trees I’ve ever seen. They’re all crooked, they’re all missing branches, they’re so tiny and thin, and weird, and misshapen. We’re like, “Okay, okay, this is okay. Our tree’s gotta be in here somewhere.” So we keep looking, and lo and behold, in the back corner behind a few other trees, we see this nice full tree. It’s a little bit taller than the other ones, and we’re like, “Ah, yes, this is our tree.” So we call the employee out into the greenhouse. It was pretty cold, so we’re all shivering and we’re like, “Hi, we’d like to buy this tree real quick.” And she said, “Oh, perfect, that’ll be $80.” And we’re like, “Oh no, this is a $40 tree.” And she’s like, “It has a yellow tag, that means it’s an $80 tree.” And we’re like, “Ah, this makes sense why such a great tree was in the $40 section.” 

But she was very patient with us and we walked her over, we’re like, “Oh, we found it in this corner right here. We thought we were only gonna spend like $30 to $40.” And then I don’t know if it was just because she was cold or she was trying to be really sweet, but she kind of looked at us and she said, “So you’re telling me this is your favorite tree in this whole lot?” And we were like, “Huh?” And she’s like, “Trying to help you guys out here. Is this your favorite tree in this whole lot?” And my husband’s like, “Yes, we really are sold on this tree.” And she’s like, “Great, it’s yours for $40.” And we left that day very happy customers. 

So my marketing message for you this Christmas is that a little bit of Christmas cheer and a little bit of kindness can go a long way because now if we ever have to get a tree from a tree lot again, I will give Home Depot my business because they made this Christmas a little extra special for us.

Ariane: Hey, Ariane here. And today I’ll be sharing a Christmas memory. When I was about five years old, I really wanted a Tickle Me Elmo. I remember this commercial where these two kids were playing with Elmo, and you go up and you tickle his belly and he laughs. And I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. I’m sure that I bugged my parents about it. And I’m sure that every single time that commercial came on, I mentioned it, I said something about it. So they knew that’s exactly what I wanted for Christmas. Well, come Christmas morning, I did in fact get a Tickle Me Elmo. I was super excited. I played with it for years after I got it. But other than receiving this gift I wanted, that’s kind of where the thought ends. You know, as a five-year-old, you don’t really think about the effort that someone puts behind getting you a gift. You just think about wanting a toy and then hoping you get it, and then trying not to be disappointed when you don’t get it. 

Well, years later I had a conversation with my mom, and somehow this Christmas story about Tickle Me Elmo came back up, or we were talking about past Christmases, and she actually mentions to me that it was really difficult for my dad to find that gift. At the time, it was a really trending toy, so all the kids wanted it. And it was pretty much sold out at all stores. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and my dad was working long hours, so there wasn’t a lot of time during the day to go look for it. So from my understanding, he was going after work and just kind of going shop to shop until he found it. I don’t actually know how he was successful or where he found it, but he did find it. 

And when I think about this now as an adult, I think about the saying, “it’s the thought that counts.” Sometimes it doesn’t feel like that’s a true statement because gifts are so specific for people and you want to give somebody something that they’re gonna love. And did I love that gift as a five-year-old? Absolutely. But knowing that story years later as an adult, it is so special to me knowing how much my dad cared and how much effort he put in just to get me that perfect gift. All that to say, I hope that this Christmas, instead of stressing out about getting someone the perfect gift, just do your best and know that it is the thought that counts. Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

Kat: Kat here! I just wanna let you know that samples work. I was at Trader Joe’s the other day, and they were giving out samples of their holiday cheese spread. I took a sample because of course, who doesn’t love a snack while you’re shopping? And after that one bite of holiday cheese spread, I was absolutely in love! If you’re unfamiliar, it is Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar, which is some of the best cheddar, just ever. I love it. With cranberries, Riesling wine, and cinnamon, it is so good! I freaking loved that single bite! I loved it so much that I took the container of cheese from the display. I didn’t even go over to the fridge to find it. I just love that Trader Joe’s knows I am their target audience in the sense that I am walking around the store, I want a little snack I want to try, I want to treat myself, and it worked! I am currently obsessed with this cheese bread. So good job, Trader Joe’s! Your marketing is on point this holiday season.

Julia: Guys, it’s Julia again. Aren’t all of these stories great? I am so thankful for our staff, both the ones who shared the stories and the ones who didn’t. And I am especially thankful for them this holiday season. I just wanna close out and say thanks for listening. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays! I hope that you have a really, really sweet time this season. Whether you are resting on your own or whether you are hanging out with family, I hope that it is a beautiful and restorative time for your soul. Guys, we’ll talk to you again next week! 

Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have. If you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and wanna give us a rating or a review, I promise, we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us. 

Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. 

Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week, and I hope you will be too.