My favourite blog of the year – looking at the Christmas campaigns with which brands want to steal our hearts. As usual there are a large number of contenders and getting a top 5 is always hard, so I decided I’d stress less, eat more mince pies and do a Top 10. Picking only 5 was beginning to hurt my head. So, make yourself some spiced tea or hot chocolate, grab some tissues (there are always tear-jerkers!) and enjoy
Ten Lords a Leaping: It’s Two Fingers to John Lewis @No. 10
John Lewis have, of course, become the masters of the emotional tear-jerker Christmas Ad. From Monty the Penguin to the Boy Waiting for Christmas, the last number of years have brought us classics. This year they went for a quaint celebration of an English legend, Elton John. In my personal opinion, it wasn’t great (it did kind of look like he had died in 2018), but the sentiment was good -Who knows where the gifts we give someone might lead them.
But as they are known for their Christmas ad, colleagues at Waitrose decided to poke some fun.
The UK (and beyond) wait every year for the John Lewis Ad to drop. People share it and rejoice in its sentimentality and production values. So, this year, Waitrose had some fun with it. I like it!
Nine Ladies Dancing: Paypal Have some Funcle @No. 9
Payment systems are hard to showcase at Christmas. They are driving the entire eCommerce engine but how to bring a brand to life? I like this US ad from PayPal. While poking fun at the family dynamics of the ‘crazy uncle’ (personally guilty of that one!) they also manage to showcase payment security and purpose. Clever Paypal!
Eight Maids a Milking: Poland’s Allegro Go Retro @No. 8
Not from this year, but this is such a beautiful ‘circle-of-life’ kind of campaign that I have to include it here in the top 10. There is a wonderful warm feeling when you see holiday traditions being passed from one generation to the next. There is something beautiful about it. Allegro manage to capture this in a wonderful campaign, dating back to 2015. It makes me smile anyway!
Seven Swans a Swimming: Sainsbury’s Put on a Show @No. 7
Directed by Michael Gracey (of The Greatest Showman Fame), this Sainsbury’s Ad is a true spectacle. The behind the scenes making video is so cute, watch it before the main commercial if you have time
Its full-on production values are impressive. I do think it will suffer a bit from “who is that Ad for again?’ which no brand really wants to hear after all the investment, but it is still a thing of beauty!
Six Geese a Laying: Publix Invite the Neighbours @No. 6
US supermarket chain Publix give us a wonderful family festive ad, with all the trimmings and a great big dollop of emotion. Supermarkets need to get the balance right between showcasing product and the ‘emotional message’ of their brand and Christmas. I think Publix got it right here. Yes it is cute and sentimental but then, so is Christmas!
Five Golden Rings – It’s a Swedish @No. 5
IKEA have always been masters at doing things a little differently. As many brands struggle to out-do one another on the emotion stakes, IKEA have chosen this year to show-case their store and product in a fun little movie. It gets 5thplace simply because it showcases product well, something other brands sometimes forget to do in the race for pulling the heart-strings.
Four Calling Birds – An International @No. 4
Amazon brought their box smile to life last year, and bring us version II this year. Again, I think, from a marketing perspective this is a touch of genius. While getting that emotional side of the holiday season across, they also, like IKEA, really demonstrate the core product, scale and multitude of channels they have within the campaign. It is a feel-good ad with strong brand communication and showcases all their touchpoints. Very clever.
Three French Hens – The Swiss get @No. 3
OK – time to get emotional. I love this campaign. Again, it is not from this year but I don’t care. No one said my Top 10 had to be 2018. This Santa makes up his own rules! Swiss retailer Migros had this magnificent ad in 2016. If you don’t shed a tear for the discarded teddy bear trying to make himself all ‘digital’ and modern, there is something wrong with you! Trust me. When Analog meets Digital.
Two Turtle Doves – A Brexit Runner-Up at @No. 2
This year Boots go less for the glitzy glamour of girls getting ready for Christmas nights out, but for the complicated Mother/Daughter relationship. A beautiful re-working of the Robbie Williams classic showcases a daughter becoming proud of her mum. It’s simple but it works and focuses on gift-giving.
And the Partridge in the Peartree – @No. 1
Obviously, there are loads of campaigns that could actually take this spot, but for 2018 I guess it has to go to Phil Beastall.
At this stage most of you should know the story behind this, but if not, here is the short version. Budget filmmaker Phil posted this ad in response to the John Lewis spend of upwards of £7m on their 2018 campaign (see referenced and linked in No. 10 above). He claims to have made this for £50. At a time of homelessness and financial hardship for many, there was a slight backlash against such a spend by John Lewis and this simple campaign filled the gap nicely.
There was then a significant counter movement on social to get John Lewis to hire Phil for their 2019 campaign. Either way, regardless of the backstory, it is a beautifully crafted short film, and as it doesn’t actually focus on a brand, isn’t officially an advert at all. The director’s point is that you don’t need a big budget like Sainsburys or John Lewis, as long as your narrative is impactful.
It is definitely deserving of the number 1 spot for me this year. Entitled LOVE IS A GIFT, it is one man’s countdown to Christmas. Get your tissues ready …
It is a fitting end to the Top 10 this year. Yes, Christmas is about the glitz and glamour, the family and friends, the presents and shows, the excitement and anticipation. But underneath all of that, there is love. As the Beatles immortalised, it’s all you need.
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