There are so many things to love about Christmas: food, music, decorations, parties, presents, spending time with friends and family, and so much more. However, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t let out a squeal of excitement at the thought of all the festive Christmas adverts.
From the anticipation of the iconic John Lewis and Coca-Cola ads to the surprise early ad that comes out in October, Christmas adverts form a very important part of our overall Christmas experience.
There have been hundreds of hilarious, emotional, memorable and just fantastic ads over the years; we couldn’t possibly choose a favourite… but we’re going to try!
So, pour yourself some mulled wine, pop the Christmas tunes on and get ready for our list of the best Christmas adverts of all time, with some special shoutouts to our favourite ads of 2023.
Asda has once again sleighed the Christmas ad game, hiring the King of Christmas as their new seasonal Chief Quality Officer.
When you think of Christmas, you can’t help but think of Michael Bublé which is why this year’s ad from Asda is a stroke of pure genius!
After last year’s iconic ad featuring Buddy the Elf, the bar was set very high for Asda but they delivered not once but twice. That’s right, prior to the full ad being released, they put out a one-minute long teaser trailer that was almost as fun as the ad itself. It did a great job of building anticipation and excitement, ensuring people flooded to watch the ad when it was released, for fear of missing out. FOMO is a form of Loss Aversion, a behavioural principle whereby the pain of losing is more powerful than the pain of winning so people will go to lengths to avoid it.
What we love more than anything about Asda’s brilliant ad is that, despite Michael Bublé taking centre stage, the star of the show is still the supermarket’s range of Christmas food. They bring fun and capture the magic of Christmas without compromising on their brand, products, and messaging.
Our second favourite Christmas ad of 2023 is from Amazon - a delightfully heartwarming ad that tugs at the heartstrings and brings some well-needed Winter warmth to people’s screens.
The ad follows three elderly women reminiscing about their childhood, as they watch children sledding. Proving you’re never too old to play in the snow and have fun with friends, the women decide to join in, with a little support from a padded seat swiftly ordered from Amazon.
Why do we love this advert?
It’s fair to say that Aldi’s marketing game is one of the strongest out there, particularly on social media. You’ll be pleased to hear that their Christmas ad lives up to expectations.
After the success of last year’s Home Alone inspired ad, Aldi have continued their theme of using iconic films with a clever play on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, featuring William Conker and Kevin the Carrot. The ad showcases a wide range of Aldi’s food, from Christmas puddings to roast potatoes, with the infamous ‘chocolate river’ even being made from gravy!
Our first festive favourite has been running for over 25 years, and we bet you can hear the ‘Holidays are Coming’ jingle in your head already!
Every year, the sound of Coca-Cola’s iconic Christmas trucks makes us feel like Christmas is well and truly on its way. Simple but incredibly effective, Coca-Cola nails their ad year after year.
Hannah Kane, Senior Growth Marketing Manager, says: “Once you hear that song, Christmas is coming.
“I remember when I was younger watching X Factor and hearing that song on the adverts, you knew Christmas was just around the corner.
“It is so nostalgic, and the fact they don't need to change anything in the ad year after year shows how powerful it is!”
What we love about the Coca-Cola Christmas ad is that the brand goes one step further by combining it with out-of-home marketing to create anticipation, excitement and all-around Christmas magic. Every year, the infamous Coca-Cola truck goes on a tour, and in the past has been through locations such as Wembley Park in London, Bluewater in Kent and Dublin in Ireland.
Many say that seeing the bright red, twinkly truck is the beginning of their countdown to Christmas, and despite being over 25 years old, it’s proving to be more and more popular every year. Online searches for ‘Coca Cola Christmas truck’ this year are higher than in the last five Decembers!
When you think about Christmas adverts, your mind probably wanders to John Lewis pretty quickly. From dragons and snowmen to penguins and animated hares, John Lewis has released some memorable ads over the years.
However, there’s one that’s stuck with our team for almost a decade! In 2014, John Lewis released ‘Monty the Penguin’, which follows a young boy and his penguin best friend. As the young boy realises Monty is lonely, he surprises him with a girlfriend of his very own and makes his dreams come true.
By focusing on Monty the Penguin for the majority of the ad, rather than having a wide range of characters and people, John Lewis uses the Identifiable Victim Effect to their advantage. This is the behavioural nudge that suggests that having one individual who is described at length will evoke much deeper emotions than a group of anonymous individuals.
Hannah says: “Everything about this advert was perfect to me, from the music to the storyline, it was utterly heartwarming and exactly what I needed to see.
“It was also a genius move by John Lewis as you could purchase Monty and bring the advert to life.”
This Christmas advert pulled at people’s heartstrings and was a complete commercial success, as John Lewis reported a ‘4.8% increase in like-for-like sales across the five weeks to Christmas’. Want to learn how to take a leaf out of John Lewis’ book? Read our blog on how to increase conversions at Christmas.
As John Lewis have had so many brilliant Christmas ads over the years, we couldn’t leave without mentioning their 2011 ad ‘The Long Wait’. Hannah says: “I adored this because it’s all about pure excitement. Not for opening presents, though, but excitement at giving his parents a gift that he chose himself. This is something that sat so well with me, and I resonated with massively!”
This emotional and powerful Christmas ad was chosen by several of our team as one of the most memorable Christmas ads of all time.
Nick Harris, our Graphic and Motion Designer, says: “Thinking back, the Christmas advert that stays in mind for me is the Sainsbury’s 2014 centenary of the 1914 WWI ‘Christmas Truce’ where the soldiers laid down their weapons, rose from the trenches of No Man’s Land, to exchange Christmas greetings, rations and a game of football.
“The Sainsbury’s advert portrays this beautifully – complete with a dusting of snow, a Christmas carol, suspense, drama and ending with a warm sense of feel-good emotions.
“What I particularly loved about this Christmas campaign was the vintage design of the chocolate bar, reminiscent of the era. This certainly nudged me and many others into buying a few bars as gifts, which raised around £500,000 for The Royal British Legion Charity.
“Christmas is all about sharing!”
Sainsbury’s is a true festive force to be reckoned with when it comes to Christmas adverts, with their 2018 ad also being a firm favourite amongst the team. Proving they can go from one emotional extreme to the other, ‘The Big Night’ is a stark contrast to ‘1914’, with a Nativity-esque depiction of a school’s Christmas show.
So, why does this make the list? It’s simple really. This Christmas ad appeals to everyone:
This Christmas ad has also given us one of the greatest moments of the 21st century: ‘Plug Boy’.
The stage is filled with students dressed as shining stars, snowflakes, baubles, turkeys and… a plug. That’s right, affectionately named ‘Plug Boy’, the advert sees a student dressed as a plug take a running jump into a giant socket on the wall. Behind him trails a line of students dressed as Christmas lights, whose costumes light up when plugged in.
Brilliantly bizarre, ‘Plug Boy’ has been the topic of many conversations and is still being talked about today, giving us no choice but to put ‘The Big Night’ on our list of the best Christmas ads of all time. Well done, Sainsbury’s!
After reminiscing about all our favourite Christmas ads over the years, we truly wish it could be Christmas every day!
So, what have we learnt about what it takes to be crowned the most iconic Christmas ad the world has ever seen?
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Wordsmith Morgan joined the Reflect Digital team fresh out of University and is learning about the world of digital marketing while supporting the SEO team with highly engaging content. With a background in website administration and social media, she also brings a broader perspective to her clients.More about Morgan