Forget advent calendars, Christmas carols and festive film classics (i.e. Home Alone 1 and 2). Nowadays, it’s the Christmas themed advert that signifies the arrival of the festive season.
So, with Christmas ads already making the rounds across our TV’s, we’ve decided to do a rundown of this year’s great (and not so great) Christmas themed adverts.
Take a look and see if you agree with our rankings.
8th McDonalds – The Doll
McDonalds’ Christmas themed entry features a vintage wooden doll who aims to make an escape from a toy shop in hope of meeting a companion. Leo Burnett London were the agency behind McDonalds ‘biggest ever campaign’, using the story of Juliette the doll to celebrate the good times happening in McDonalds restaurants.
Although the story peaks interest amongst viewers, it does seem to lose sight of the underlying message, as Juliette the doll doesn’t seem to set foot in the restaurant once. An odd decision in our opinion.
7th Sainsbury’s – The Greatest Gift
Sainsbury’s Christmas musical, sung by James Corden, tells the story of a hard-working Dad who wishes to spend more time with his kids at Christmas. The message is fine but critics have voiced their concerns over contradiction on social media. Sainsbury’s employees have also chimed in, stating how they’re working shifts over the Christmas period which opposes the message in this advert.
Additionally, from the viewpoint of a retailer – an advert that is advocating customers spending less money in-store and instead replacing that with time seems unusual. We think this advert had a nice premise but has struggled with loopholes in their content.
6th Aldi – Kevin The Carrot
This entry by Aldi is a fun animated short that focuses on a carrot hoping to meet Santa. As weird as that sounds, the advert, produced by McCann UK, does a reasonably good job at provoking an emotive reaction (for a carrot).
‘Kevin the Carrot’, as he is named, traverses a table full of food in order to reach a plate that’s being left out for Santa and his reindeer. The story is good, the animation is great and the rhyming by the narrator is infectious.
However, there is one apparent flaw. Who sets their table (food included) on the night of Christmas Eve?
5th Apple – Frankie’s Holiday
Apple, along with Lance Acord – director of the award winning 2013 Apple ad, ‘Misunderstood’, have produced this Christmas themed advert, using ‘Frankie’ (loosely based on Frankenstein) as the lead role.
To begin with, you wonder why a Halloween advert is airing at this time of year. However, if you keep watching, the story grabs you and that’s why this advert is so good. When you’re viewing it for the first time you are genuinely gripped as to what this ‘monster’ is going to do next. The outcome is light hearted and does a great job at presenting us with a powerful message. Even if the group singing is a little predictable, the intended moral of the story stands strong; ‘Open your heart to everyone this Christmas’.
4th John Lewis – #BusterTheBoxer
John Lewis and Adam&eveDDB have continued their relationship this year, producing the 2016 version of the yearly-anticipated John Lewis Christmas advert.
Buster the Boxer is the star of this year’s festive effort, a family dog who hopes to play with a newly purchased Christmas present – a trampoline. John Lewis are always effective at creating that emotional connection between the audience and their ‘Christmas ad star’. It’s the same again this year as viewers eagerly anticipate the conclusion of the advert, where they can’t help but smile once Buster finally manages to bounce on the trampoline.
Whilst the animation, story and message are done well, some viewers don’t think that it lives up to the John Lewis Christmas ad standards. Unfortunately, John Lewis have set the bar very high for themselves with some of their previous festive entries.
Nevertheless, this one still ranks highly in comparison to competitors’ efforts, even if reviews seem to be hit and miss for this year.
3rd Waitrose – #HomeForChristmas
Waitrose, teamed with Adam&eveDDB, have focused on a small robin’s journey for their Christmas entry. The advert predominantly features the robin partaking in a perilous journey to reach a young girl to share a Waitrose minced pie.
The advert is in-fact based on the real-life migration of a ‘Scandinavian Robin’. The team behind this advert operated with specialists in robin behaviour and anatomy in order to create an accurate computer generated representation of the bird and it’s journey.
The result; an impressive animation which does an effective job in provoking an emotive Christmas themed story.
2nd Heathrow Airport – Coming Home For Christmas
A surprise package finds itself at number 2 in our list. This entry by Heathrow Airport, shaped by Havas London, does a brilliant job at depicting two grandparents as Teddy Bears travelling through the airport to reconnect with their family at Christmas.
The animation is particularly good at capturing the movement of these two aging Teddy Bears. What’s surprising is how Heathrow have managed to produce such a heart-warming advert in such a cold environment.
Although the focus is on two elderly animated Teddy Bears, it’s safe to say that the most unrealistic part of this advert is the portrayal of two people being able to travel through an airport hassle free. Still, a top Christmas advert from an unlikely source.
1st Marks & Spencer – Christmas With Love From Mrs Claus
M&S have done something unusual this year with their Christmas themed advert, shifting the focus away from the traditional ‘Santa Claus’ theme and shining the lights on a modernistic Mrs Claus instead. This short film tells the tale of a classy Mrs Claus pulling out all the stops to help a young boy repair his relationship with his sister, by delivering a new pair of trainers for his sister (to replace the old ones he had the dog chew up).
Although this advert might not hit home with every viewer, there’s no argument that it has achieved resonance with its target market. It’s been documented that viewers on social media took well to the advert on its release – almost tallying up 40,000 mentions in the first five days of release, with 76% of those being from a female audience. Additionally, it’s important to note that 83% of those mentions were expressing happiness and 15% mentioning how they cried upon viewing the ad.
These numbers confirm that Mrs Claus may have just won Christmas this year.
The one thing that ties each of these adverts together is the attempt at leaving a lasting emotive feeling on their viewers. Big brands that can spend money on integrated campaigns, which include these video entries are now starting to follow the same trend.
It appears brands have shifted from trying to openly sell to their audience within their Christmas adverts. This has instead been replaced by objectives to increase brand awareness and image by promoting messages revolving around goodwill and unity.
Does this work? Do you agree with our list? Share your thoughts by tweeting us.