Christmas Advert Countdown

Halloween is over and Christmas is here. Well certainly in the advertising world it is.

So I thought I would bundle together all of the adverts worth mentioning from the UK Christmas circuit 2k15. If you think I’ve missed any, let me know in the comments!

All in all, brands seem to have moved away from emotional storytelling this year. Perhaps this is because there was too much competition in 2013 and 2014 that they just weren’t standing out now. However, as a result, none of them hugely popped for me. But that’s just my opinion.

So sit back, grab a cup of tea (and maybe a biscuit) and start watching.

John Lewis

I’ve not loved the past two adverts from John Lewis (don’t hate me – I feel like it’s sacrilege not to like them). My favourite is still 2011. However, that does not mean that I don’t admire them for their pretty solid through the line planning and campaign execution in both 2013 and 2014. They were thoroughly successful. It was this very through the line approach that allowed their digital spend to go up while instore sales fell. I have heard that this year they are upping their digital spend, so I’m interested to see how that goes.

This year their tagline is ‘show someone they’re loved this Christmas’. It’s a nice advert, but it didn’t have the usual John Lewis pop – BUT- I will give them the fact that it was unique (as I felt a lot of brands re-mashed old ideas this year). I have a feeling they’re trying to extend beyond the advert though. Strangely, it drew parallels to the direction TV Maxx went this year – see further down.

UPDATE: I’ve just read that the ad aims to raise awareness of AgeUK. It doesn’t make this clear but it’s a noble cause and I like that they’re using their Christmas-power for good. Seems like they’re taking a page out of Sainsbury’s book, who raised 500k for the Royal Legion last year. The landing page they’ve set up is great, and outlines where this digital spend has gone (an app, which looks like it will be great for engagement). I do find it interesting that they’ve continued the in-store presence as a place to visit, because it’s not very Christmassy, so it will be interesting to see if there is as much appeal here as there was with #bearandhare and the penguin.


Now I am sure we all remember Sainsbury’s advert from last year. Controversial, but I loved it. It was relevant and handled sensitively. I don’t think it undermined the story, it felt relevant for consumers and related well to the brand. This year the brand are waiting until a fairly late 12th December to launch their ad.

This year they have reignited ‘Christmas is for sharing’ with a very different story line. At 3 minutes 30 seconds it’s a pretty long advert, so don’t expect to see the whole thing on TV a great deal. It’s half animation, half RL and gives off the air of a children’s short program more than a TV advert. This makes sense as they worked in collaboration with a children’s illustrator, as they have also produced a book for which the profits will go to charity. They could have made this much more emotional, but perhaps chose not to after last year. I don’t think it’s a bad thing as the message is still conveyed. Personally, it doesn’t feel particularly ‘on brand’ to me. Sainsbury’s wouldn’t have been my first guess. I am also curious if they are planning to bring this in store beyond the book..? Someone in the UK will have to let me know on that one.


I liked Paypal’s advert. It’s not one usually on my radar, but it told a nice story, and conveyed what Christmas is actually like for parents now. Long gone are the days of hurrying around all the stops and sneaking presents in while the kids are at Grandmas. Instead online shopping is the way everything seems to be going – even if this info-graphic suggests it’s still weighted to physical shopping. Despite this, I feel like it doesn’t do a huge deal for the brand.


This advert has garned some attention. In my opinion, it’s not as good as last years, but that’s just me.

Sky Movies

A wild card entry to the Christmas game, this year Sky movies have gone all out. Big and bold, you expect nothing less from Sky. Movies are normally a huge part of Christmas, especially for kids, so it makes sense.

Harvey Nichols

I like the tongue-in-cheek approach that Harvey Nichols have been taking for the past few years. They would be much less relate-able to the wider consumer market had they not done this. They’re also another one who are really good at bringing their adverts into store, like their customisable christmas cards from last year, or the ‘I spent it on myself’ bit and bobs from 2013.

This year they prompt people to avoid #giftface .Similar to Curry’s ‘spare the act’ concept.


It’s the 20th anniversary of Holidays are Coming! Doesn’t time fly? It’s an all time classic. It does make me think however that they might be mixing it up and doing something different next year. I guess we will have to wait and see.

I do have to say that Coca-Cola make it very hard to find any of their British/US adverts on YouTube.

Coca-Cola also do a Santa Claus variation every couple of  years. This one is my favourite. This one is the most recent I think – but as I said it’s pretty difficult to find their adverts due to the set up of their YouTube channel.

I also really like this Christmas experiential campaign from them.


I didn’t really get it. I love Billy Elliot as much as the next guy, but what do Burberry have to do with it? Am I missing something? What’s going on? It’s kind of like the creative team in charge were watching Billy Elliot on a hangover, realised their deadline was on Monday and so just picked it as a theme and called all the celebrities they had in their phonebook and went ‘done!’. I watched it twice and I’m still confused.

They even threw a whole event around it, which was documented on Snapchat and had a performance from the West End. I’ve sung Burberry’s praises in the past but this missed the mark for me. The print campaign looks gorgeous though, and the ad feels Christmassy.


I have liked the boots adverts in the past. Obviously ‘here come the girls’ is a classic. I loved 2013. Equally last years was lovely. Boots have moved away from storytelling this year, choosing to urge consumers to #discovermore in their product range.

TK Maxx

I really really liked this years advert from TK Maxx. It gave me some Love Actually vibes which is always a good thing, and in concept they’ve done well. Usually, I can take it or leave it from them, but I feel like this year they’ve hit the nail on the head. Moving away from family, their tagline is ‘love your neighbour’ and enocurgaging people to buy a little something for those around them. It made me want to be generous with my gift giving this year. Saying this, it did remind me of the 2013 advert from Boots. 


Nothing revolutionary from Waitrose this year. Classic family around the food.


A brand close to my heart, Anchor have released a Christmas advert this year, running with the same characters they created for their previous advert.

Super cute and captures the not so great (but still makes it Christmas) side of Christmas. I am sure this will resonate with their target audience.

Marks and Spencer

In John Lewis style, M&S had a teaser trailer for their ad. Was this necessary? Probably not. I quite liked ‘follow the fairies‘ from last year, and really liked the fairytale christmas from 2013. This year they’ve decided not to tell a story, but go for a classic M&S advert. Bright and catching visually; alright concept, good execution.


Interesting take by Asda this year. They’ve completely moved away from the family/food focus. If they didn’t have the logo flash up at the end, I could never have guessed that it had come from Asda. Perhaps this is the new integration of the Walmart brand we’re seeing? Undecided on this.


I was surprised to find I really liked Lidl’s advert from this year. It made me laugh and it was light hearted. It was also followed up by more video content. It’s a bit different, but not too different. Good job, but I’m not sure if it’s going to drive footfall. They’re all about low prices, and this has been skimmed over a bit here.


I kind of hated last years advert from Morrison’s. However, I know that it wasn’t made for me, and I think it definitely hit the objectives they set out when they went to make it, but apparently it failed to boost the sales that were so critically needed. This year they’ve dropped Ant & Dec. Whether this is because they had strategic reasoning, or Ant & Dec just became too expensive, I’m not sure.

They’ve gone much simpler, with a 30s spot focusing on the food. Feels like they’re competing with Aldi here (quality with the low price), which of course they are in a market sense.


This was Aldi’s advert from 2014. This year, they appear to have moved away from one main advert, and have done a short series on ‘SpecialBuy Stories’ that will be available, including stocking fillers etc. These seem to take all of the noise out of things and just focus purely on the products. When people have less time to watch TV and pick up presents, these are pretty good for saying ‘hey look, we have this stuff you could give to XYZ and it’s pretty cheap’. See the others here. They did get in trouble in August for this advert, as it had a ‘distinct whiff of Christmas’, which people deemed just too early.

They have now released a 50s spot tying all these things together, which is basically the same one they released in August but more Christmassy – so they clearly had the August one planned in to ease people into their Christmas advertising.

Not on The High Street

Not one of my usuals, but it caught my attention this year. Not for the advert (which was watchable but not attention grabbing), but for the YouTube playlist that they have put together to support it. Half content, half adverts, these were what I liked best about their approach.

Curry’s PC World

Not on my original list but people have been loving it. A series of funny adverts starring Jeff Goldblum. Entertaining and engaging. They definitely win points from me. The two below are my favourite but there are a couple more on their YouTube channel. I really like the variation of doing a little series of ads.


When I watched this I thought two things. 1) good idea because everyone buys a dairy milk advent calendar! 2) are they trying to be the new Coca-cola trucks?

I have no doubt they’re going to roll this out for experiential, and maybe they’re hoping after the Coca-cola trucks 20th anniversary that they’ll step away from it and Cadbury can step right in to take it’s place.


Watch some other ads here:

20th anniversary of Coca-Cola Christmas Campaign – Marketing Week

Christmas Adverts, watch the best – The Telegraph

Waitrose Christmas Advert: Why emotion makes the tills ring – The Telegraph

Morrison’s drops Ant and Dec for its own staff – The Guardian

Waitrose Christmas ad – The Guardian

Could sky movies knock John Lewis off the top spot this year? – The Independent

3 thoughts on “Christmas Advert Countdown

  1. Great round up of ads Jess! Very good read 🙂 It’s very interesting to see the huge differences around the world, obviously the ones in Australia involve a lot more beach and sun than snow. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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