Our Favourite Christmas Marketing Campaigns of ALL Time

Christmas is almost here, and it’s our favourite time of the year in the Social Nucleus office. After a year to remember, I think it’s safe to say we’re all glad Christmas is here, so we can finally enjoy some quality and much-deserved time with family, amazing food, and great gifts!
 However, working in marketing means we’re always relating everything back to work. Something we look forward to seeing every year is the release of all the great Christmas ads. We’ve been talking about our favourite ones of all time, from John Lewis Christmas ads to  banned Iceland commercials, and why they were successful from a business point of view. So today, we thought we’d share them with you. Let’s reminisce on some great Christmas ads and discover why they worked so well.

 John Lewis, Monty The Penguin (2014)

Of course, where else to start than with the champion of Christmas ads, John Lewis. Year after year they release amazing ads, each with its own individual message. John Lewis have mastered storytelling and engaging their audiences with emotion, and that’s exactly what they did in 2014 with Monty The Penguin. Racking up 1.8m views on its first day of release, John Lewis told the story of a heart-warming friendship between a boy and his toy penguin, Monty. It was a simple, yet emotive story, that won the hearts of millions and successfully promoted their brand. They opted for a less obvious and indirect way of advertising, something that is always appreciated by consumers.

 Iceland Foods, Say Hello to Rang-tan, 2018

Iceland opted for a very bold and brave Christmas ad when they struck a deal with Greenpeace in 2018. They released an animated short film featuring an orangutan and the destruction of rainforest habitats, which was shortly banned from TV as it was deemed to breach political advertising rules. Earlier that year, Iceland became the first UK supermarket to pledge to remove palm oil for all its own-brand products, and this message was widely advertised through their Christmas campaign. Of course, this is a huge story that needs to be told and despite its banning from TV, their risks paid off. They received over 6m views on their YouTube ad and news of their ad spread like wildfire. We’re sure their support of rainforest habitats brought them in a lot of business that year.

 Sainsbury’s, 1914, 2014

Who could forget about Sainsbury’s powerful Christmas ad in 2014? Made in partnership with the Royal British Legion, this ad goes back in time 100 years, and retells the story of Christmas day in 1914 when opposing British and German soldiers emerged from their trenches to exchange gifts and play football. This ad was a huge hit and conveyed the theme of sharing at Christmas, which is always received well. Mark Given, head of brand communications at Sainsbury’s said: “The Christmas truce is an emotive and cherished story in our history that is especially poignant in this first world war centenary year. That’s why we have worked together closely with the Legion to ensure we bring this moment to life with authenticity and respect”.

Coca Cola, Christmas Commercial 2020

This year, Coca Cola has opted for a more sensitive approach as opposed to their upbeat happy campaigns. This clever campaign features a father setting off to deliver his daughter’s letter to the North Pole, only to find out that her only wish is that he returns for Christmas. This year has been tough for many people, especially financially, so this ad serves as a nice reminder that time with loved ones is our most precious gift.

 Burberry, From London With Love, 2014

Burberrys cinematic Christmas campaign of 2014 is inspired by the golden age and again, masters the skill of storytelling. It tells the story of a young couple falling in love at Christmas, against a theatrical backdrop of London. This ad worked so well as it combined the magic of Christmas with the UK’s favourite celebs, including Romeo Beckham, Hannah Dodds, and Anders Hayward. This ad encapsulated more than just Burberry’s brand and takes it’s invested viewers on a romantic and magical journey of love.

John Lewis, The Man on The Moon, 2015

John Lewis hit the nail on the head once again in 2015 with their Man on The Moon campaign. Highlighting the loneliness some elderly people face on Christmas, this ad tugged on viewers heartstrings and was a huge hit amongst UK viewers. This ad was extremely popular, due to the fact that it had a bigger purpose, larger than just selling products. The ad inspired much charity work across the UK and encouraged people to show a bit of extra Christmas love to those who needed it the most.

Plenty, Xmess, 2020

Taking a more comical approach to Christmas campaigns, this year Plenty focuses on the more realistic side of Christmas. This funny and relatable ad shows a family celebrating Christmas, in the messiest way possible – we’re talking babies, dogs, turkey accidents, and spilled drinks. This campaign has engaged viewers through a more honest representation of the holidays and is a nice change from all the ads that convey an idyllic Christmas setting.

Sainsbury’s, The Greatest Gift, 2016

Sainsbury’s again, released a massive hit in 2016, telling the story of Dave, a hard-working and devoted dad who realises that the greatest gift he can give people is his time. This ad resonates with us a lot this year, as I think we all appreciate the time we spend with loved ones a lot more. Sainsbury’s partnered up with Great Ormond Street Hospital to help families be together on the big day. Together, they raised money to fund accommodation that meant patients’ families could stay close by in difficult times.
So, there you have it, our favourite Christmas ads of all time! We hope we’ve got you feeling the festivities. Did we miss any? If so, head over to our LinkedIn page and let’s have a chat!