Etsy Crafts Poignant Vignettes

Personalised, handmade, thoughtful



It’s been quite a year for Etsy, the online crafts marketplace where people sell their hand-crafted, limited-run items. The site has been a destination for millions during the coronavirus pandemic, as people stuck at home turn their hands to making and selling, and people unable to shop for gifts look for original online alternatives.

That’s the mood the company hoped to tap in its holiday campaign, which featured a series of poignant vignettes based on situations which call for specially thoughtful gifts, like grandchildren unable to see their grandparents for Christmas, and a man and his new boyfriend nervous about meeting the family for the first time. The ads play with negative emotion – sadness or worry – but resolve happily, and are full of right-brained touches.

Gift Like You Mean It: New Guy



Etsy also put out a somewhat more generic commercial, with upbeat music explaining what the site is and does. All of these ads scored well with the “vignette” ads breaking the 4-Star barrier in their shortened form and scoring a high 3 at the full 30 seconds. The only 5-Star ad, though, was the upbeat “explainer” commercial, which got the maximum 5-Stars.

Does that mean Etsy should stick to upbeat holiday commercials? No. The rest of the campaign still scored well, after all. Low short-term Spike would be a warning sign that the creative had spent too much time crafting its story and not enough time selling the brand – bit in fact all the ads landed in the top (Exceptional) bracket for Spike.

The real learnings here are twofold. First, that there’s room in the market for more than one style of advert to be effective. The heartstrings-tugging stories Etsy told are highly emotional and they may resonate very strongly with individual viewers or linger longer for some – but it’s also a good idea to back them up with a more straightforward commercial. This is what Coke does every year at Christmas, after all, with the standard “Holidays Are Coming” ad partnered with a new and different creative.

Second, the different performance is partly a function of where Etsy is in its life as a brand. For many if not most viewers, Etsy is a new brand, and it makes sense that they respond well to an advert explaining the basics of what it is and what people do with it – illustrated by lots of happy customers. The vignette ads take things a step further, assuming some kind of awareness of Etsy and reminding people how special gifts from it can be. As Etsy grows, those kind of stories should hit home even harder.