The Christmas advert has become as traditional as turkey.
Every year we look forward to dazzling displays from our favourite brands – from shop windows to social media, we’re mesmerised by their fervour for the festive spirit. And when it comes to TV advertising, some will make us laugh, others will make us cry, and every once in a while, a brand will release an advert that achieves both.
The competition is fierce for these companies, as they try to craft a commercial that will cling to our imaginations for years to come. Here are just ten of our festive favourites.
1. COCA-COLA – HOLIDAYS ARE COMING (1995)
Is there anything more iconic than the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks?
Remaining unchanged for more than a quarter of a century, the soft drink company hit the jackpot in 1995 with their ‘Holidays are Coming’ advert. For many, the sight of this advert on our televisions marks the start of the festive season, and the trucks travelling round with free bottles of Coke are always a plus!
2. IRN-BRU – PHENOMENAL CHRISTMAS (2006)
Irn-Bru are renowned for their comedic approach to commercials.
And in 2006, they revived the iconic Snowman to bring to our screens an amusing and festive advert that fast became a favourite.
While gently mocking the ‘Walking in the Air’ sequence from the film, the little boy and the snowman fight over a can, much to the wee lad’s peril: when the boy won’t share his Scottish soft drink, the snowman swipes it and lets the boy fall… But don’t worry, he’s saved by a cushion of snow.
3. SAINSBURY’S – CHRISTMAS 1914 (2014)
In 2014, Sainsbury’s released a Christmas advert that reduced many to tears.
Based on the World War I Christmas Day truce a hundred years earlier, the advert focuses on the brief friendship of rival soldiers Jim and Otto, and depicts the often-told story of the Christmas Day football match in no-man’s land in a moving new light.
To accompany their campaign, the supermarket chain even released the chocolate bar featured in the advert with the proceeds going to charities that support veterans.
4. ALDI – KEVIN THE CARROT (2016)
Christmas is nothing without our often lovable, sometimes annoying, characters – and Kevin the Carrot is no exception.
Introduced by Aldi in 2016, their Christmas adverts have gone on to make marketing use out of everything from The Greatest Showman to Peaky Blinders. Even if you can’t stand Kevin, The Leafy Blinders is surely enough to get you cracking a small smile.
5. JOHN LEWIS – MAN ON THE MOON (2015)
In 2015, John Lewis partnered with Age UK, and, well – need we say more?
In the advert, a little girl discovers an elderly man living alone on the moon and tries a variety of ways to get in contact with him. The advert reminded us all that there are those who’ll be spending Christmas by themselves, and encouraged us to reach out – as the little girl in the advert does – to make their day special.
6. MARKS & SPENCER – MRS CLAUS (2016)
When your advert is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) you’re going to be on to a winner.
And the 2016 edition of the annual Marks & Spencer Christmas commercial saw Mrs Claus take centre stage – with the aid of her red helicopter. She receives a touching letter from a young boy who wants to find the perfect gift for his sister. She pulls through for him, is home before Santa, and curls up with her copy of Fifty Shades of Red.
7. WALKERS – TOO GOOD TO SHARE (2019)
Is it really Christmas until you’ve heard Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas?
Walkers doesn’t think so, and in 2019 the crisp producer enlisted the Queen of Christmas herself for their festive fun. After the recording of her single cuts, Mariah hands out Christmas presents to the crew… but isn’t willing to give up the last bag of Walkers, after all, they’re too good to share.
8. EDEKA – COMING HOME (2015)
As if John Lewis’s Man on the Moon wasn’t sad enough for the 2015 battle of the ads, German retailer Edeka managed to top it. The Christmas advert went viral (with mixed reactions) and has over 68 million views. It tells the story of an old man who year after year spends Christmas alone when his family continue to cancel on him. So, to get them home for the holidays, he fakes his death. The family arrive, to find him alive and well, and they all celebrate Christmas together.
9. BOOTS – SPECIAL BECAUSE (2014)
In an advert that is even more relevant today than it was in 2014, Boots celebrated the hard work of the NHS staff over the Christmas season.
The advert shows a family getting up in the middle of the night, in some cases traveling from far and wide, in order to greet the mother as she returns home from working the Christmas Day shift at a hospital. In this touching ad, audiences are reminded that Christmas isn’t about the day, but about who we share it with.
10. SAINSBURY’S – GRAVY SONG (2020)
2020, the year that Christmas forgot. Many of us saw our plans cancelled and left us uncertain as to whether we’d be able to spend time with our families.
Sainsbury’s, rather than shying away from this, instead used it for the basis of their heart-warming Christmas advert. It features a phone conversation between a father and daughter, hoping that they will be able to spend the day together as a family, in which he sings his terrible but endearing ‘Gravy Song.’ Using home video footage and photographs of family Christmases past, the advert resonated with us deeply at a time when we were all living in a new normal.