It’s that time of year again! When our screens become a smorgasbord of Christmas ads which not only give us the festive feel as they tap into our emotions, but promote campaigns that use the best tactics of content marketing to get us spending.
Think about it, why did you really buy that scarf for your great-aunt this year? You normally get her socks. Was it because she loves the color blue? Or was it the tiny dog wrapped in the scarf, lying in the arms of the hero that rescued him from the cold after getting lost in New York City that did it? You know, the Christmas ad that nearly had you in tears.
We’ve all done it, become too emotionally invested in Christmas ads. That’s what makes them so special. The creativity that goes into creating them is second to none. This is not by chance: most top ad creatives swear by having in place a checklist for your creativity, a system to to call on whenever creative work needs to be done.
As marketers we live for this stuff. In no particular order—though, of course Charlie’s Bar Enniskillen gets our vote—let’s kick off the Christmas celebrations with 10 of the best Christmas ad campaigns we’ve found in 2023.
We’re off to a strong start with this one as it spreads tingles of sadness throughout your body and reminds us of how lonely people can be at this time of year, especially those that are elderly or experiencing grief.
The message is so powerful, the storytelling is timeless, and the response has been extraordinary. This budget ad from a small bar in Northern Ireland has seen millions of views across social media—nearly 9 million alone on one post on X (formerly Twitter)—with tens of thousands of shares, likes, and comments and it's been featured in international news.
When Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory meets Kevin the Carrot, visual storytelling takes over. By tapping into what’s familiar for adults, what's exciting for children, and using top-tier animation, grocery giant Aldi have created a mini movie-style ad the whole family can enjoy together. And it just happens to arrive in time for this season’s biggest family blockbuster, Wonka.
The reigning champion of Christmas ads, UK retailer John Lewis has fans divided over this year's campaign. Although it takes on a twist of creating new traditions, and uses sentimental moments between the ‘Snapper’ and its owner with a soundtrack of Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Festa’, it doesn’t hit the mark as well as in previous years, such as 2012’s ‘The Journey’, or ‘The Boy & The Piano’ with Elton John in 2018. See what you think.
This year’s campaign from the grand-daddy of Christmas advertising focuses on the spirit of Father Christmas, showing how a single act of kindness can have a huge impact. Portraying that anyone can embody Santa with acts of good-will, it also cleverly enforces its ‘Holidays are Coming’ campaign at the end.
Amazon brought its A-game to this campaign by inviting us to believe it’s never too late to embrace your inner child. As one of the three life-long friends buys cushions for them all to sled in the snow, their childhood memories are re-lived and nostalgia is at an all-time high.
This ad for Marks & Spencer’s Christmas food offerings is full of mischief and fun, yet it’s emotional and heartwarming. Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney play the mittens and Dawn French the festive fairy who brings them to life. A great combination to create storytelling Christmas magic.
With its charming characters of a goose in slippers, a hedgehog in a hat, and a llama in a sweater, this is a super-cute ad from UK fashion outlet chain TK Maxx. And with the layering of popular ‘00s track ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind’ by Eve (feat. Gwen Stefani) it makes for a sensory delight.
This ad for US credit card brand, Capital One, relies on nostalgia and familiarity to stop us from skipping on past. From the iconic Bee Gees soundtrack to the placement of the messaging in the billboard behind John Travolta on his walking scene this ad delivers. You just know it’ll build to a fabulous dance scene at the end - a classic!
The upbeat music and Connie’s dancing across a table of gifts gets you in the festive party mood while Trev’s character is as sweet as can be. Short and easy to watch, this ad showcases UK catalog retailer Argos’s products in a relatable and fun way.
Balancing emotion and classic Christmas storytelling to highlight the importance of kindness, grocery chain Lidl’s Toy Bank initiative hits the mark this festive season. The raccoon goes on a long journey to return a plushie that was dropped before it made it under the tree. Memorable and charitable.
Editor Emma gets the final say with her own choice for this year: Apple’s flawless combination of message, tone, execution (digital and handcrafted), and product placement in the story of an unhappy employee and her unhappier boss. They even managed to sneak in The Beatles! Classy stuff.
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