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As Sinatra once sang “It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love”. This is always my favourite blog post of the year, the moment I get to pick my top 5 Christmas campaigns. And it is never easy. There are easily 8 I want in that top 5 but sometimes you can’t stuff everything you want in your stocking. It’s just physics.

In at Number 5: Amazon


This is a stroke of genius from one of the world’s largest retailers on many levels. Firstly, there is the showcasing of just how big a global network they have and for the fundamental of the product – Christmas delivered.

Too often, in the hysteria to pull at the heart strings, the ad agencies forget to properly showcase the brand being advertised. At this stage, that laden table of Christmas goodies or that schmaltzy family value shot of every one sharing Christmas day could be for any supermarket brand. The distinction lines are blurring, we can’t remember who is who!

Here Amazon play on their Smile logo and bring all their parcels to life. The idea that all these gifts are making their way to their final owners, excited to be gifted, singing on their journey, brings an essence to life for the Amazon brand, one that has sometimes been invisible when it was just brown boxes being dropped at doors.  It is both wonderfully simple and fantastically effective and warming

At Number 4: SKY Cinema


Nothing brings people together more than to sit down and watch a Christmas movie (or fight over the remote control I guess!). Part of the magic of Christmas is in the rituals we adopt. There are common ones: trees and lights, turkeys and presents. But then each family has its own unique rituals. Some play charades, others embark on a Christmas swim, some have silly little rituals only their family understand. But collapsing in front of the TV together, sharing a movie, often the same one every year, has become a ritual in many homes.

Here SKY bring this ritual to life in a wonderful generational piece, showing us that it is in these rituals that we create and pass on, is the true meaning of family and Christmas.  Personally it is Elf The Movie for me, but I’m not sure they would have got the same emotional play out of that versus the Sound of Music!

And then to Number 3: House of Fraser


Both Boots (see link later below) and House of Fraser have launched similar ads this year, focusing on sisterhood, the passing of time and Christmas being a time to be with the ones you know the most.

Christmas has always been about children, about play and magic and possibilities. House of Fraser with their ‘Bring Merry Back’ suggest we recapture that childhood innocence with the ones we love. Also, it touches on that wonderful moment we all revert to our family roles when we return home, regardless of how old we are. Perhaps it’s good to be a kid again.

The Penultimate Number 2: Allegro


Last year, the Polish online retailer Allegro gave us the grandad learning to speak English so he could travel to the UK to speak to his grandchild for the first time. It was heart-warming. This year they have done it again.

Christmas is not about what you get, it is about what you give. It always has been. It is the spirit of St. Nicholas. To look at those around you, in need of love and support and offer to help. We are good at giving our money these days, but not so much with our time.

This is a long 4-minute story, but one that is well produced and certainly worth watching. There is a lesson in it for us all. Your own wishes might come true this Christmas, but perhaps you would be better off focusing on ensuring that someone else’s do instead.

And the Coveted Number One Spot: Heathrow Airport



In 2015 I gave this top spot to the John Lewis ‘Monty the Penguin’ campaign. Last year it went to the Spanish Lottery. This year it goes to an airport!

Before you watch this years’ ad, if you have not watched last years, I think you have to do so first. The Heathrow Bears made their first appearance in 2016 and this year they return. I list both the campaigns here as a collection, as a story that should be viewed back-to-back.

I am fortunate to travel the globe as a motivational speaker, but the downside is that I spend a lot of my time in airports. They are fascinating places, a cross section of humanity at any one time. Travellers embrace and shed tears, of joy when arriving, and of loss when departing. Bringing an airport brand to life is hard but Heathrow do a fantastic job here.

At this time of year, airports are magical. Families, lovers and friends reuniting. The excitement of a journey over, of familiar faces, familiar embraces. While last year focused on family, this year looks again at the generational passing of time and of the love story. It is sweet and brings a tear to your eye (and if it doesn’t there is something wrong with you, trust me!)

The Three that Nearly Made It

There are 3 three campaigns that nearly made it into the top 5, but didn’t. They couldn’t all fit in there, but if you haven’t cried enough over the past 10 minutes and feel like staying in the Christmas mood, watch the following:

Boots, Show Them You Know Them. As referenced above, similar in theme to the House of Fraser campaign, it is a beautiful ad with a wonderful cover of Only You as its soundtrack.


Macy’s,  The Perfect Gift Brings People Together. A nice simple story about how Christmas is a time of belonging and bringing people together


Debenhams, Find Your Fairytale Christmas

A beautiful love story from Debenhams that reminds us all that sometimes magic can happen at Christmas. It is a fantastically shot production and features the gorgeous Ewan McGregor, snow and true love


So now that the Christmas countdown is upon us, remember what you can learn from all those commercials. It is about giving, giving your time and your love, about togetherness and rituals, about family and true love. And of all times of the year, it is about magic.

May you never be too old to search the skies on Christmas Eve.

Ken Hughes is one of the worlds leading Shopper and Consumer Behaviouralists, blending his vast expertise in consumer psychology, social & digital anthropology, behavioural economics and neuromarketing to answer the question to which he has dedicated most of his career: Why do shoppers buy and how can we make them buy more? Click here to read more

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