It is that time of year, as many brands around the world launch their Christmas ads for the 2019 season. This is the super bowl season for retailers, especially as they battle online options. Big budgets, lots of hype, millions of YouTube hits and storytelling. There is tons of pressure facing marketers as the ads are heavily scrutinized as to which ad is best or worst of the season. Traditionally, the best Christmas ads have come from UK retailers led by John Lewis or Sainsbury’s.
Go big or go home!
There is no use releasing crap at this time of year. We want magic, filled with goosebumps, tears and smiles. This is your chance to build your brand, not push too hard for store transactions. Don’t make it a big sales pitch. And, too much branding can really kill the magic of the ad. Have your brand should show up closer to the climax of the ad, not in the first few seconds. Before we start, I don’t see any ads this year that will make my top 20 all time list. We have good, but do we have any great? What does that tell us about the state of advertising as we end the decade?
The best of 2019
I have three for the best, both delivering very simple stories. Bouygues of France will make you smile with a great music track, Air Canada delivers a simple story with amazing performances, and Apple will make you cry as we look at the impact of the stages of life. This year, there are quite a few on that theme, but Apple to me does the best job.
Bouygues Telecom, France
Last year Bouygues Telecom of France had an adorable ad of a father and son, who shared a song throughout their life. Very witty and touching connection that brought a smile to our face. This year, Bouygues comes back with another great generational connection, this time with father and daughter. This is my favorite ad of the Christmas season.
A very simple idea, but nice production. The main kid actor really delivers the magic, even more challenging to do it through visuals, as this ad must work in both English and French.
I love this new Apple Christmas ad. It tells a gut-wrenching story of a typical family traveling back home for the holidays. When the kids are bored and unruly as they head off in the car and on the airplane, the dad hands the kids an iPad to keep them entertained. Very typical of parenting in the modern world. The Apple iPad Pro becomes the enabler in the rest of the ad. The spot becomes even more real as the kids are heading to bed when one of them asks the question, “Mommy, is grandpa still sad?” All too real. Have a look below to see the rest of the spot.
The good list
Very touching tear-jerker Christmas ad from WestJet, who challenges people with a choice; to keep the gift or give it away to someone who needs it more than you.
This cute little ad reminds me of the 2015 John Lewis “man on the moon” spot, with a young child feeling sympathy for a senior. Not sure the story perfectly fits the post, but it’s a nice spot.
The last few years, Aldi has done the most sarcastic Christmas ads. A few years ago, they did quite the edgy spot that made fun of American Christmas. This year’s magical ham is no different, with a tongue-in-cheek look at what we might worship. It sure stands out among all the sappy stories.
Sainsbury’s has a history of doing epic period pieces. Their 2014 salute to the trenches of the First World War is on my all-time list of best Christmas ads (see link at the end of this post)
People love this little carrot Aldi has been using the past few years. He is cute!!!
In a year when Disney + is launching, Netflix has snuck in a new animated Christmas ad called Klaus, which looks like a unique take on Santa. I don’t even know if I’ll watch the movie, but the trailer might be enough for Netflix to remind everyone they are still here. BTW, I have a Disney ad on this naughty list.
The pretty good list
To kick off the pretty good list is the 2019 John Lewis ad. Cute dragon will get some consumers to smile. A solid 7/10, not great, not bad. Just solidly ok.
To read my full review of the John Lewis 2019 spot, click this link:
Another pretty good ad with a nice little animation spot from Very, the British online retailer. Highly likeable, 3 million views already.
I’ll put this in the good space, but there are quite a few of these sappy little stories. This is a cute little story about a girl who wants to be Santa. While she had her doubters, her parents were paying attention.
Another sappy story from down under. Christmas in Australia kicks off their hottest season of the year. What better Christmas tradition than camping! A young girl is worried if Santa will find her. Nice sentimental spot that sets her parents up as the hero.
Very nice spot, links food to memories. Might be a bit too close to “Always a Woman” by John Lewis from 2012. (and not as good, but that’s very hard, because it is beyond amazing)
The OK list
As we move past the sappy list, we now move into the “let’s get a song and play it for 3 straight minutes while we flog some product. These spots are usally as good as the song choice.
Catchy song the first few times, and will get annoying very fast. Cue overly smily people.
A great Gen X song. I guess Boomer songs are out. It’s a cute spot, yes. A great spot? Well, it’s OK.
Marks and Spencer
Another Gen X song to sell some jumpers (sweaters). Cute dancing. It’s…..OK.
The Naughty List
Looks like a cute animation, but this looks like a Frankenstein spot, where someone said “yeah, but can we have a family going to McDonalds at the end?” Feels completely disjointed. Ugh.
Frozen food meets Frozen. What a weird combination, paying all that money for Disney sponsorhip and you sell frozen food. And then the ad ends with a 2-second sales pitch for the Frozen 2 movie. Ahhhh, I now get it, frozen and frozen food. Still weird.
Marks and Spencer Food
This ad is just boring. Sell some turkey, some spouts, and deserts. This is 90 seconds of showing product that is pretty damn obvious!
This also is big on selling, low on magic. I started off this article with “go big or go home.” If you don’t capture the attention of the consumer, there is no value in selling when no one is listening.
This just mails it in. It would be my worst ad of the year, but there is one worse. Over the years, Tesco Christmas ads were cute, mostly in a store, but gave you a wee smile. This one….blah.
The worst Christmas ad
Sorry to wreck the Christmas spirit, but this ad for Walkers crisps feels completely wrong. What year was Mariah still popular?
Here are best Christmas ads I have ever seen.
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