All posts by Ellandrea Mckissack

The Best Holiday Marketing Commercials: Classics and Newcomers

Peace, love, and joy are the sentiments that rest in the air during the holiday season. This time of year is marked by celebration and good cheer. This is also the time of year that we reflect on the past and the present, and at qSample we reflect in terms of marketing. During the holidays, marketers embody the spirit of the season and present some of their best and brightest commercials to draw in customers. There are some classic commercials that make us collectively sigh with nostalgia, but there are also some newcomers that are making us dance, smile, and even tear up a little. Check out a few of our favorites below!

M&M – They do Exist

We are all very familiar with this Christmas classic. Two of our favorite fictitious characters’ worlds collide when they realize they both actually do exist. This commercial first aired in the late 80’s and has maintained its tenure for over 20 years. The commercial has a strong narrative focus at its core and relies on irony. Those two elements have greatly contributed to the popularity of this commercial as well as created brand association between the Christmas holiday and M&M candy.

Hershey Kiss – We Wish You a Merry Christmas

This commercial is another classic that has relished in many people’s hearts since childhood. It is undeniably a holiday favorite and many would argue that they could not imagine Christmas without this commercial. This commercial serves a greeting card to the viewer as it plays the Hershey Kisses rendition of the song We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Although this commercial is simplistic in its approach, it is another great example of brand association. The commercial paired with a line of holiday themed Hershey Kisses available in  stores has made the candy a holiday staple.

Macy’s Believe #OldFriends

Macy’s is commonly considered the holiday shopping headquarters. The brand is directly correlated with the Christmas holiday and has been for decades. The original store location is centripetal in the classic Christmas movie Miracle on 34h Street, and not to mention Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Parade. With this reputation, Macy’s cannot afford to let the public down in the Christmas commercial department. This year’s commercial paid homage to Macy’s holiday legacy and also shows that the Macy’s brand bridges across many generations.

Heathrow Airport – Coming Home for Christmas

Now this commercial is sure to bring a smile to your face. We see two elderly teddy bears tote their way through the London Heathrow Airport. They are met by plenty of friendly crew members who extend them a helping hand when needed. At the end of the commercial we discover that the teddy bears represent two grandparents returning home to visit their grandchildren for the holidays. This commercial is designed to ease the nerves of frustrated travelers and remind the viewer that togetherness and kindness are the roots of the holiday season.

Tory Burch

Tory Burch designed their holiday commercials to make the viewers want to dance. The commercial is modeled after a music video with Tory Burch products in the center of it all. The viewer is shown both scenes of holidays spent at home and at a resort with models lip syncing the hit song Don’t Mind. The lyrics allude to no matter where you go for the holidays the Tory Burch collection has the perfect outfit.

These five commercials do a phenomenal job of capturing the holiday spirit. From brand associations to nostalgia, these commercials are the perfect example of how to increase sales through emotional marketing. Undoubtedly, these companies will see the result of their marketing efforts in form of sales numbers throughout the last days of the holiday season.

Consuming the Flu Vaccination: CDC Marketing Initiatives to Stop the Flu

December has begun and flu season is definitely among us as the weather begins to grow colder. The number of influenza vaccinations have increased steadily since 2005 and the 2016- 2017 distribution count is sure to maintain this upward trend. There is a heightened public concerned about the flu virus and has even raised the question to state legislator if the flu vaccine should be mandatory for health care workers and employees in other industries. The increase in flu vaccinations has sparked many debates regarding its validity, effectiveness, and safety. Despite, the number of vaccinations distributed have earned pharmaceutical companies billions of dollars annually. The vaccination industry dominated by five pharmaceutical powerhouses and collectively worth about $24 billion. However this steady increase did not occur organically, it is due to an aggressive campaign pushed by the Center for  Disease Control that promoted influenza awareness by targeting the audience, disseminating impactful marketing collateral, and utilizing social media.

There has been an increase in flu vaccination overall, but the demographics that were impacted the most were small children under the age of four and the elderly population. Since these groups are considered the most susceptible to viral infections, they are the top priority among all groups to receive the flu vaccination first. According to the CDC, about 47.1% of children under the age of four  were vaccinated in the U.S. during the 2014-2015 flu season. Children of this age group are consistently receiving vaccinations for various other viruses and illnesses, so this is also the most convenient demographic to reach. When children are brought in for physical examinations or other vaccinations it is easier for healthcare providers to “upsell” or convince the parents to also consider a flu vaccination. This is a similar circumstance for the elderly population. Since this group is also more likely to visit their healthcare provider frequently, it is more feasible to inform them about the vaccination and distribute it as well.

Although the CDC targeted a few age demographics, they still broaden their reach by creating  a social media campaign surrounding flu vaccinations. They launched the “#VaxWithME” selfie campaign to spread awareness. NFL football players, nurses, and many others participated in the campaign while often using  the caption “spread the word, not the flu.” This campaign helped to create conversations around the topic as well as gather endorsements. For the CDC, this campaign helped catapult them out of their normal audience and into the mainstream population and spread their message. This campaign also worked in conjunction with a variety of strong marketing materials.

The marketing slogan and flyers that  were created for  the flu shot awareness campaign left a clear and direct message that was difficult to dispute. Slogans such as “You have the power to fight the flu” and “no more excuses, you need a flu vaccine” paired with images of families, placed the responsibility on the consumer to stop the spreading of the flu virus. These slogans placed a heavy social responsibility on each person by implicitly calling the public to action. These marketing materials in conjunction with the CDC’s other efforts created a direct impact on the increase in flu vaccination distribution.

This year approximately 131.9 million flu vaccines have been issued during the 2016 – 2017 flu season and this number is increasing. A mixture of market research on the audience, social media campaigns, and bold marketing messages have caused this increase and the momentum does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Pharmaceutical companies will need to increase production of the flu vaccine to keep up with the CDC marketing efforts.


Ellandrea Mckissack is a Marketing Coordinator at qSample, a research and data firm based out of Chicago. qSample specializes in developing and managing specialty research panels that cover a wide range of audiences such as voters, general contractors, veterinarians, just to name a few. At qSample, she hones her inner marketing energy to gather raw data from our specialty panels, research the latest advancements in the marketing field, and most importantly craft methods to get information in front of people who need it the most – the consumers. For more information please contact her at

United or Divided States of America: qSample Survey Gauges the Public Response to the Kaepernick Protest

What started as a silent solo protest has snowballed into a national stance against racial inequalities and social injustices in America.  On August 14, 2016 Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, sat  down during the national anthem in the team’s first pre- season game.  His actions did not gain attention until the third pre-season game when Jennifer Lee, a producer for Niners Nation, posted an unrelated twitter post that happen to capture Kaepernick sitting during the anthem. Almost two months later, his actions are still gaining attention and have triggered a variety of emotions ranging from enragement to empowerment among the public.  Many other athletes from football, basketball, and beyond have chosen to join the protest, such as National Women Soccer League player Megan Rapinoe. There have also been high school and college athletes who have joined the protest – the Howard University cheerleaders and the Garfield High School football team in Seattle.

The act of not standing during the national anthem challenges traditional concepts of patriotism. Many argue that the national anthem is a moment that unites all American citizens despite their race, religion or economic background; while, the opposition believes the anthem is a gilded device to cover up the injustices in America, qSample sought out to gauge the public’s response to these recent events. Is it patriotic or not to not stand during the national anthem?

We conducted a survey with our general population panel to understand their opinion regarding professional athletes like Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. Nearly 300 responses were collected.  While 12% of the respondents agree this is a form of patriotism, the majority (43%) of respondents indicated that the decision to kneel  during the national anthem was unpatriotic. Another 23% disagree with his action, but indicated that it is his individual right to protest. This shows that the majority of respondents do not support this protest; however, nearly 12% agree but feel it is the wrong venue.  Combined, almost a quarter of the panelists support this protest with a remaining (9.39%) who are somewhat undecided.

The results alone illustrate there is a wide range of conversations regarding this protest and there is a significant number of people who are passionate about this stance. Since this protest is heavily charged by race relations, we took into account the demographics of the participants. Majority of the panelists were over the age of 50 and identified themselves as Caucasian (79.06%) with ethnic minorities only representing roughly 21% of the sample.  Also 65.34% of the panelists were female with only 34.66% of males represented. The gender of the panelist is an appealing point since this protest has been initiated by the sports community, which is commonly considered a male dominated arena.

Overall, this protest has not gone unnoticed and continues to be a conversation piece across every region of the United States and beyond. Even in the NBA, a number of athletes have begun to follow suit on this issue; we have seen teams such as the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and Houston Rockets join arms in solidarity during the national anthem. No matter what side you take on this issue, we can all agree the protest has sparked conversation.

For more information regarding the survey results please reach to us:

Mixing Smart Phones with Fitness this Fall


As the temperature drops, unfortunately, activity levels  tend to drop with it.  The motivation to achieve the best summer body gets buried under layers of sweaters and an over-sized jacket. According to a Gallup research study conducted in 2015, June is the most active month for Americans with a decrease in reported physical activity the second half of the year. The study also shows that people who set exercise goals have a more intense feeling of self purpose.

Whether the challenge is staying motivated, carving out time between family activities, falling into the temptation of holiday treats, or simply just not wanting to go out in the cold, there is an app out there to help you stay on track. With mobile fitness applications, smart phones have gain another function – personal training. Here are a few of the current top trending fitness apps.




Nike + Training

Created by fitness pros and athletes, the Nike + Training app is designed for people who find it difficult to get to the gym, but still want a solid workout. The app provides a variety of workouts that can be done anytime and anyplace.

Once the app is downloaded each user creates a free account (if you shop on you can use the same log-in) and there is a plethora of workouts designed to appeal to ever fitness level. The workouts are filtered by focus areas, duration, intensity, and equipment availability. The app coaches the user through the entire workout by timing the workout and throwing out words of encouragement through the toughest portions.



Photo: Screenshot

My FitnessPal

The MyFitnessPal App is powered by Under Armour Connected Fitness platform. MyFitnessPal allows users to not only track food and caloric intake, but also carbohydrates, protein, sodium, sugar, and many other dietary elements. The app also takes into account activity levels and can adjust daily. Food intake can be entered manually or by scanning the food packaging barcodes with the phone’s camera.

There is also an option to create a weight loss plan that follows a calorie deficit model, which targets burning more calories than someone consumes. The app forecast potential weight loss or gains based on the information inputted by the individual. Avoiding an extra slice of apple pie is least tempting when the app is tracking the users’ ever bite.





Carving out time to work out can become increasingly difficult as calendars are filled with holiday events; but,  the FitNet app helps keep users on track in a time crunch. The FitNet app provides the user with over 200, five to seven minute targeted workouts that can be squeezed in throughout the day. Time commitment is a major hindrance when it comes to achieving workout goals, but the app allows the user to squeeze in workouts.

The app also supports a few unique features such as using the phone’s camera to measure how closely the user follows the moves. The app also syncs with the Apple Watch to track heart rate and cardiac zones.




Charity Miles

Outside of personal appearance or health goals, being active can help others. Charity and fitness have been united within the app Charity Miles. The app links users with a charity and for every mile walked, ran, of biked corporate sponsors donate money to support a cause.

By using the phone’s GPS sensors, miles are tracked and ever mile equates to money for a charity. The app can be used whether the user is outside walking their dog or running indoors. Finding motivation to stay active can come in many forms.

The quote “there is an app for that” holds truth when it comes to fitness. There is a multitude of fitness apps with functionality tailored towards unique audiences. These apps make fitness available right at the users’ fingertips.