Christmas exists, in my opinion, to soften the blow of winter. The nights seem endless, the days are barely given time to breathe, and the weather is reliably dour for most of us, so we need it really. Even as someone that doesn’t really care for Christmas, I must admit I’d probably miss it if it suddenly ceased to be and one of the things that makes it so uniformly comforting is the reliability of it all.
Every year we get the same festive sitcom staples, the same warm-hearted films, the same food, and the same decorations. What we don’t get, however, the classic “Holidays are coming” Coca-Cola spot aside, are the same old ads.
Indeed, each year now, like clockwork, every major brand under the sun seems obligated to churn out a new spot to ring in the festive season in early November and the budgets seem to get bigger every year. This year has been no different and, while there are still a few serious contenders yet to drop, mid-November seemed the right time to round-up some of the year’s best for your viewing pleasure.
So, sit back, relax, and let the warm festive glow overcome your senses. We’ve got a lot to get through!
ASDA – Pop the Bublé by Havas
I can’t say I’m the world’s biggest Michael Bublé fan but I did enjoy how ASDA and Havas took the famous meme of the crooner only thawing out for Christmas and built a whole festive campaign around it. The follow-up ad featuring more of the man himself didn’t do quite as much for me, but the teaser really works!
M&S – Love Thismas by Mother
OK, they might have hit headlines recently with an outtake that accidently seemed to reveal a Palestinian flag burning (though we all know it was a coincidence, right?) but M&S struck reliable gold with their main spot. Yes, Hannah Waddingham seems to be everywhere right now but it can’t be denied this one hits all the right notes. The M&S food ad featuring the voices of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny was a bit of a laugh too, but it felt a bit like a retread of last feel’s spot to me with a little added Hollywood glamour.
JD Sports – The Bag for Life by Uncommon
I understand I’m not the target audience for this, but I appreciate the retailer going in a different direction from the cheap, cheesy ads they appear to have mad their stock in trade in recent years. This lookback at over 25 years of the iconic duffle bag celebrates youth culture at a time when everyone else under the sun appears to be denigrating it and for that alone it deserves respect.
John Lewis – Snapper the Perfect Tree by Saatchi & Saatchi
It had to be here, didn’t it? Yeah it’s far from one for the ages but the craft behind this year’s John Lewis spot is impossible to deny. The spot sees a young boy nurturing a plant in the belief he is growing a perfect Christmas tree before discovering it’s actually a monster plant inspired by The Little Shop of Horrors (that he, naturally, befriends). The song by Andrea Bocelli doesn’t really do anything for me and the narrative is quite predictable, but the quality and the message is there, as ever. Given it’s the brands first year without Adam&EveDDB after 14 years, it could have gone a lot worse.
Amazon – Joyride by DLMDD
Where the John Lewis ad faltered in its soundtrack, Amazon has gone for the old reliable piano cover of the Beatles and it, largely, works. The ad takes the now standard Xmas ad motif of making elderly people feel like children again but does so without feeling trite or twee. It’s also filmed with all the panache of a Hollywood rom-com.
Boots – Thank You Santa by The Pharm / VMLY&R
This year's Boots spot tells the tale of a young girl and her mum making a journey to the North Pole to show Santa how much they appreciate him by giving him a gift. Armed with a Boots shopping bag filled with gifts, the pair embark on an epic journey together, from the local high street to the snow-capped landscapes of the North Pole. It’s light, fun and breezy with just enough of a rebellious spirit to set it apart from more insipid fare.
Lidl – A Magical Christmas by The Romans
Now this is more like it. While Colin the Carrot might have outstayed his welcome (for me, at least, even in a Willy Wonka parody) I’m always game for a new cuddly Christmas character and the racoon and dog duo at the heart of this lovely little thing honestly made me smile the first time I saw it.
Shelter – Good as Gold by Don’t Panic
In the UK, figures show that 131,000 children are in temporary accommodation this Christmas - an increase of 10,000 since last year. To highlight this, housing and homelessness charity Shelter has released a poignant festive ad that brings these numbers to life. It’s not a feel-good classic but then it really shouldn’t be. It certainly makes an impression though.
TK Maxx – Festive Farm by Wieden+Kennedy London
More CGI animals but this time, it’s all played for laughs and earned a legitimate belly laugh from me, at least the first time. As somebody who genuinely thinks dressing animals up in Christmas jumpers is a subtle form of torture, I also appreciated the fact none of the animals involved were actually real.
Morrisons – More of the Winning Feeling by Leo Burnett
Arguably the strangest spot on the list this year, Morrisons have chosen to celebrate the most unsung of unsung Christmas heroes this year – the oven gloves. It’s a spot that tries surprisingly hard not to ‘glamorise’ Christmas and the soundtrack of “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship is pretty iconic, whichever way you swing it. I’d say this is probably my pick of the bunch.
Any I’ve missed that you really think deserve a place on this page? Let me know in the comments and, if I agree with your verdict, I might just include it. After all, the more Christmas cheer we can spread the better, right?