Hobby Lobby’s Bold Xmas Idea: Repeat an Ad

Hobby Lobby

Christmas 2023


Hobby Lobby is one of America’s most consistent makers of holiday ads. Their Christmas commercials are usually heartwarming stories of families coming together or problems being solved – with the craft brand’s decorations and equipment never far away. They specialize in sentimental ads with strong narratives – an approach which works really well at Christmas. So it’s no surprise to see Hobby Lobby regularly score 5-Stars on Test Your Ad. And it’s also no surprise to see them doing it again this year with a 5.4-Star ad.

What might be a surprise – to the seasoned Christmas ad watcher – is to see them score 5-Stars with this ad. Not because it’s bad – it’s excellent. But because it’s a re-release of their 2020 holiday commercial.

“Christmas Is What You Make It” first aired in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hobby Lobby were actually unusual in making an ad which had no direct reference to Covid, though the theme of a single mom and her kid having a great Christmas just by themselves certainly fit with the times.

Back in 2020 we found that the ads which didn’t explicitly mention Covid scored higher than ones which did. Hobby Lobby’s commercial was a great example – it rated a maximum 5.9-Stars that year. But now we can see another advantage to not dating the ad with a topical reference – it means Hobby Lobby can re-release its 2020 ad and get high scores all over again.

But isn’t this a big risk? Don’t ads wear out? It’s less of a risk than you might imagine.

Brands re-run Christmas ads all the time. Two of the most famous and successful Christmas ads of all – Hershey’s “Christmas Bells” and Coca-Cola’s “Holidays Are Coming” return year after year to mark the start of the festive season. It’s certainly an unusual move for a brand to re-run a story-driven Christmas ad, like Hobby Lobby has done here. But that doesn’t make it a bad move – the slight dip in score to 5.4-Stars still leaves Hobby Lobby with a 5-Star ad, one of the strongest US holiday ads this year, and at no extra production cost.

In our studies of “wear-out” for ads we’ve found evidence that the idea of “wear-out” is largely a myth. Effectiveness scores for most ads don’t degrade over time, and for many we’ve seen “wear-in” as audiences get used to an ad and enjoy its familiarity. Brands’ reluctance to re-use ads is partly driven by the myth of wear-out, and partly by marketers’ and agencies’ desire to make something new and better. And since most ads score 1- or 2-Stars, there’s often plenty of room to do just that.

But if you’ve got an ad which scores 5-Stars, you’ve made something people like seeing and that’s effective for your brand. There are very few good reasons to replace an ad like that. Hobby Lobby’s decision to go back to a successful holiday commercial ranks as one of the boldest decisions of the 2023 Christmas season. It’s also one of the best.

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