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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Holiday Even Brighter - YouTube

Finalist in YouTube


2020 was tough - but the Texas spirit is tougher, and there's nothing more Texan than H-E-B, a much beloved grocery store and brand focused on making the lives of Texans better since 1905. As the holiday season of 2020 grew near, H-E-B was determined to be the light at the end of the tunnel - helping, inspiring and empowering Texans to "Holiday Even Brighter". 

From tighter budgets, lighter guest lists, first-time feast-making, and together time apart, H-E-B's YouTube campaign centered around sparking joy deep in the heart of every Texan by serving them the right content that was made for whatever would make their holidays brighter. Coupled with that, H-E-B's Digital Advent Calendar had a new YouTube surprise each day - content from YouTubers and influencers to famous Texas celebrities, live-streaming of events to recipes. 

The goal was to create content that inspired and empowered customers to have the best holiday season possible, despite the untraditional conditions. H-E-B focused on why someone comes to YouTube - and how to meet them with the holiday content likely to resonate. Functional tactics focused on driving sales with hyper-relevant, highly targeted ads showcasing the deals most desirable for each customer, based on their past online behavior. The inspirational track focused on sparking joy by building brand equity, inspiring customers to have the holidays they desired with the help of H-E-B - with online cooking classes, digital "live-streams" and hundreds of influencer/celebrity videos, showing ways to celebrate traditions safely, created utilizing Google insights.

Strategy and Execution

Google search data showed customers had less money, more time, and more new questions than before. The climate was uncertain, and the competitive environment had never been higher. By combining art science and human truth, H-E-B’s Holiday Even Brighter campaign could solve for the need states of customers in the short term while creating brand lift that would last for years to come.

H-E-B's strategy came from the moment where the Whos of Whoville gather the morning after the Grinch stole Christmas, and lifted their voices with the holiday spirit. That moment was recreated in each aspect of the campaign based on insights and data derived from qualitative and quantitative customer data, searches and insights - providing the right deals at the right time to the right people as budgets were tighter than ever, or granting moments of joy each day for families looking for new ways to celebrate the holiday season. Just like the Grinch, COVID-19 took a lot, but it couldn’t steal the joy of the season. 

Functional: H-E-B created content that solved customer’s need states. With Director Mix (YouTube beta), H-E-B targeted unique personas - identifying customer need states and creating 270+ videos in that campaign. These videos were served to customers who didn’t hand-raise, but whose signals indicated the right mindset for each set of targeted creative. These ads were deployed across YouTube, with top-performing creative used for broader audiences on Facebook.

Inspirational: H-E-B's inspirational track included several executions, rooted in helping Texans Holiday Even Brighter. H-E-B worked with YouTube to identify trends and spiking micro-moments, creating content to be delivered via keyword targeting and YouTube Discovery   - ensuring H-E-B provided an answer/inspiration for customer needs. With topics like “how to take a pet portrait”, “Thanksgiving meal for two”, or the trending “Hot Cocoa Bombs”, this content was customer-driven, created, and served to Texans where they were searching for answers and inspiration.

H-E-B also created an advent calendar of content on, and each day showcased a new YouTube video – from an exclusive Nutcracker performance from the San Antonio Ballet to GRAMMY-nominated Country Music Star Mickey Guyton singing an acapella carol, to influencers and celebs like Tiffani Thiessen showing you how to cook and decorate in this year’s new normal - with a holiday surprise from new Texan James Van Der Beek.

By combining art, science and human truth, H-E-B’s Holiday Even Brighter campaign could solve for the need states of customers in the short term while creating brand lift that would last for years to come.


H-E-B's leadership often says, "we're a people company, we just happen to sell groceries." This brand truth shined bright during the holiday season of 2020. Through the Holiday Even Brighter campiagn, the Texas grocery store delivered on its promise to inspire and enable Texans to celebrate the season despite the year's challenges. While a multi-platform campaign, YouTube was an essential platform to get the right content to the right people at the right time - meeting people where they are - and was resposible for tremendous results in the holiday campaign.

The influencer portion of the campiagn lended credibility and relatibility to the storytelling, having Texans show other Texans how to celebrate their unique traditions in an untraditional time. Producing hundreds of data-driven, customer-centric, influencer content, this portion of the campaign contributed more than 65M impressions with a benchmark-beating 49.3% view through rate of content averaging 1.5 - 3 minutes in length.

The overall campaign resulted in 529M impressions, reaching 10.9M Texans  with fresh and hyper-relevant content throughout the holiday season as well as an overall view through rate of 48%. The campiagn came to life through traditional broadcast, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook/Instagram, Influencer channels and even private cooking classes garnering more than 28M YouTube video views. 

H-E-B believes in it's motto of "Because People Matter" and the holiday season of 2020 was no exception through its campaign to help Texas Holiday Even Brighter. 



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