Christmas ads 2018: all the best so far

Charlotte Hurd


Elton John, Holly Willoughby and the return of Kevin the Carrot…this year’s Christmas campaign crop is a star-studded affair… 

But what makes a successful Christmas campaign? With so much noise at this time of year it is even more intrinsic for brands to affect feeling in their audiences.

When thinking back on the best Christmas ads to grace our screens Edeka ‘Home Coming’ comes to mind for its emotive take on a family together at Christmas.

Also, John Lewis’ 2012 campaign showing a snowman pretty far from home captured the hearts of the nation and showed the lengths some go to, to get the perfect gift.

And another that still remains at the forefront of our minds is Sainsbury’s 2014 advert made in partnership with The Royal British Legion.

Here at The One Off, we round up the ones to watch this festive period…

Firstly, what has become a Christmas ritual for many, the John Lewis behemoth, borrows this year from British music culture.

‘The Boy and the Piano’ portrays younger versions of music legend, Elton John, as well as the man himself. The film moves chronologically and as John embarks on a farewell tour, he remembers the gift that started everything.

As with John Lewis Christmas adverts of old, this film brings a tear to the eye and leaves viewers feeling fuzzy with festive cheer…

…But for Waitrose, the impressive cinematography of the John Lewis ad just doesn’t compare to the prospect of indulging on Christmas food…

Their campaign ‘Too Good to Wait…’ marks the first time that Waitrose & Partners have worked with their sister company John Lewis & Partners to create a Christmas campaign.

Rather than taking the time to appreciate the advert, the pair want to get to their Christmas treats as quickly as possible. The campaign highlights the message that Christmas is about enjoying great food with the people who matter most.

The cheeky reference to John Lewis and ‘preferring the one with the penguin’ unites the two brands after John Lewis’ rebrand to John Lewis and Partners earlier this year.

Lidl were also quick to parody the much-anticipated John Lewis ad, mocking the suggestion that the average customer will receive a piano on Christmas morning.

Their tweet, ‘Just because you don’t have £872 to spend on a piano, doesn’t mean you can’t be the next Elton. #EltonJohnLewis’ quickly went viral and promoted that at Lidl, you can have a magical Christmas ‘a Lidl bit cheaper’.

Heathrow’s annual festive offering has often been praised for its individuality. This year’s campaign stays true to form, and features the teddy bears who first warmed the nation’s hearts in the London airport’s 2016 ad.

The short film, set to Paul Young’s, ‘Everytime You Go Away’ depicts the happy couple enjoying their retirement in Florida before returning home to the UK in a bid to have a quintessential British Christmas.

The first Christmas campaign, under their new brand identity, FatFace highlight the importance of ‘Time Well Spent’ this Christmas.

Their snow filled campaign leads with the message that time is one thing you cannot buy, Christmas therefore should be spent with those you love. This approach moves away from a consumerist Christmas promoting the importance of family.

Sainsbury’s have enlisted the director of the wildly popular blockbuster, The Greatest Showman for its 2018 Christmas offering. Entitled ‘The Big Night’ it takes inspiration from customer research which showed that at Christmas, spending time together with family and friends is what makes the festive period truly special.

Although the advert gives much in the way of festive feeling, it is difficult to disassociate it with the John Lewis Bohemian Rhapsody ad seen earlier in the year.

Boots #GiftsThatGetThem use a twist on a classic Robbie Williams song to pull at the heartstrings. Focussing on a mother-daughter relationship they ask you to celebrate your loved ones; not just for what they do, but who they really are.

Marks and Spencer’s enlist the help of Holly Willoughby and David Gandy this Christmas. Their fun filled ad shows you how to discover the must-haves that make Christmas with M&S.

It is the closing statement, ‘Nice Coat’ and additional social post, ‘Shouldn’t you be in Oz’ that brings this advert back down to earth, adding a little British humour to humanise the campaign.

Iceland choose to take a political stand this Christmas, their advert, ‘Rang-tan’ depicts an animated orangutan sheltering in a child’s bedroom.

The advert, which Iceland claimed was banned from television, has amassed over 30 million views on YouTube. Created by Greenpeace and narrated by Emma Thompson, it highlights the impact of the palm oil industry, something which will become especially important in the run up to Christmas.

Aldi take us back to the Christmas fairy tale with the return of Kevin the Carrot. As the story unfolds across a number of adverts, viewers follow Kevin as he fights to save his family from Pascal, an evil Parsnip.

The light hearted story showcases the Aldi Christmas range, alongside a fun and approachable story line which resonates with customers in the busy run up to Christmas.

Finally, Argos, were the first to launch their Christmas advert this year – and instead of father Christmas taking centre stage – a mischievous fool unveils to children that mum and dad are buying the presents.

The advert is a bit of a contrast to whimsical Christmas adverts from previous years, it is clever but lacks emotion which feels risky alongside the sentimental offers from John Lewis, Boots and Sainsburys…

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