It was last Dec. 23, and Alyssa Raine was prepping for the holidays. She’d just returned to work from maternity leave and was balancing caring for a two-month-old, a preschooler and a kindergartener, and a mom in the hospital with pancreatic cancer.  In the past year she had also moved to Chicago, bought a new house, and started a new job.

And she’d just realized that there were no gifts under her tree, and she was running out of time.

Luckily for the mom of three, she happened to work at Walgreens, which gave her an idea.

“I ran to my neighborhood Walgreens, and 20 minutes later I was loading my car with the perfect gifts to put under our tree – an L.O.L. Surprise! doll for my daughter, a Transformer for my son, and No7 gift sets for my mom and me,” says Raine, divisional vice president, brand marketing & creative, Walgreens.  “And then, from the car, on my phone, I ordered one more special gift for my mom through the Walgreens app – an amazing blanket with pictures of all her grandkids.  It was absolutely perfect.”

Raine went home, wrapped the gifts and put them under the tree – and then went back to the store with her then 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter so that they could pick out gifts for their cousins and grandparents.  Her son picked out a tabletop pinball machine for Raine’s dad, which is now used every weekend when the Raine kids visit their grandparents.

holiday kids
Raine’s son and niece playing the tabletop pinball purchased at Walgreens.

“I didn’t buy one gift that wasn’t from Walgreens last year, including all of our stocking stuffers,” says Raine. “I was worried about not being able to bring Christmas to my family, given everything that was happening last year, but Walgreens made it easy and made it feel special.”
True story

This type of experience – what Raine calls a “right-now moment” – is the basis of Walgreens campaign for the 2019 holiday season.

“We listen to our customers via social and internal channels,” says Raine, “and people actively and publicly share how much they love Walgreens in the right-now moments – when you’re driving to work and remember it’s your office gift swap that day, and you forgot to pick something up. Or when you’re on your way to the airport for holiday travel, and a sniffle from the backseat makes you realize you need cold medicine for your child.

“Those moments happen throughout the very special but also very busy holiday season,” she continues. “And Walgreens solves those better than anybody else, given our massive store footprint. We are eight minutes away or fewer for most customers, and we are easy to shop.”

For Laurie Blair, Walgreens senior director of brand marketing, who’s overseeing this year’s holiday campaign, there was a clear link between what people were saying about Walgreens and how we could better address the needs of our customers.

“We wanted to own who we were by listening to our customers’ pain points,” says Blair. “And the role we play is understanding the holidays aren’t just about Christmas morning, but also about the hustle and bustle, the pressure to keep all the balls in the air, and the added pressure of seeing these perfect moments displayed everywhere during a time when life is anything but perfect.”

The result of these realizations is the tagline, “Get in. Get out. Get jolly.” As part of the campaign, several vignettes feature actual customer tweets talking about their own mishaps during the holidays.

“We thought, if we wanted to talk to customers based on their own lived realities, what better way to do that than to recreate their stories?” says Blair.
Escape from the chaos

Blair and Raine hope that when people see these stories, they see their own experience reflected in them. The campaign includes a social media component, encouraging the community to share their own holiday manic moments using the hashtag #TrueHolidayStory. And, as Walgreens moves towards a marketing strategy of mass personalization, this holiday content offers a chance to truly meet customers where they are at.

“Through leveraging data, adtech, and martech we are sharing over 1,000 pieces of content that address our customers’ unique needs,” says Raine. “We are also excited to be partnering with celebrity couple Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka for the very first time as they share their own ‘right now’ moments.”

“We are showing how Walgreens can help you during the holiday season. We’re open, we’re easy to get in and out of, we aren’t in the midst of the chaos,” Blair explains. “But we also offer the solutions customers need, so you can get back to what you want to really want to be doing during the holidays –being with your family, going to a party, baking or whatever it is you enjoy– instead of spending your time running around, in a store, or searching for something online.”