At the urging of concerned friends, Ad Nut has sworn off exhaustively chronicling the ad industry's complete annual output of Christmas-themed work (but is still noting APAC examples as they come up). However, the ad nuts at Campaign in the UK—where Christmas advertising is a blood sport—have made no such promises. So in the spirit of holiday excess, Ad Nut thought it would be nice to share the UK team's compilation of the 'Best Christmas ads so far'. Enjoy.
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Arguably the most anticipated ad of the year, the first joint Christmas campaign from John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners saw the emergence of "Excitable Edgar"—a lovable dragon whose enthusiasm for Christmas accidentally ruins some celebrations. With the help of his friend Ava, Edgar finds his festive niche as a Christmas pudding-lighter.
The work was created by Simon Lloyd and directed by Blink’s Dougal Wilson, with Untold Studios working on post-production.
In an attempt to encourage people to gift animal adoptions for Christmas, WWF has released a stop-motion spot highlighting the real-life impact of deforestation on wildlife.
A young girl steps between a jaguar and a bulldozer, only to be met in solidarity by a band of people who stand beside her. Our young protagonist blows up the bulldozer with her mind and the spot ends as she stands in her room, surrounded by jaguar paraphernalia.
The work was directed by Noah Harris through Agile Films.
Sainabury’s has literally rewritten the Christmas story to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
Set in a Dickensian London in 1869, the spot tells the fictional tale of a young sweep who is banished from the city after being wrongfully accused of stealing a clementine.
With an appearance from founders John James and Mary Ann Sainsbury, the work was created by Tom Bender, Tom Corcoran, Tomas Coleman and Mat Kramer, and directed by Ninian Doff through Pulse Films. PHD is the media agency.
Spanish fashion brand Loewe mixed live action, stop-motion animation and fantasy to create a surrealist Christmas spot.
It follows an otter’s strange journey through an alternate world containing a wading bird in a grove, a model wearing a frog suit, a dodo and a host of half-human, half-fantasy creatures before an animal turns into a handbag.
The film was directed by Nina Gantz through Blinkink.
Debenhams launched a pair of festive spots in an attempt to position itself as the place to go for seasonal shopping.
While the main 30-second spot functions as a cheat sheet for hard-to-buy-for family members, including aftershave, winter hats and items from the retailer's alphabet shop, a shorter 20-second film promotes Debenhams' advent range, with a cameo from The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity… Get me out of Here! star Fleur East.
In what appears at first glance to be a sentimental Christmas ad, Boots brought the struggles of Christmas shopping to the fore with a campaign to promote its curated shopping experience "Bootiques".
Nobody is safe from the unadulterated sass of the spot—including ASMR fans, beauty bloggers, fitness fanatics, vegans and TikTok users.
The ad was created by Tom Madden, Morgan Hinds-Shorland, Naomi Nicholl and Lily James, and directed by Si & Ad through Academy.
Coming in hot with one of the saddest ads of the season, Dogs Trust’s spot follows a dog made out of cork as it plays on the dinner table during Christmas day.
However, the next day sees the pup chucked in the rubbish with the rest of the wrapping paper, where it becomes a real dog before being rescued by Dogs Trust.
Set to Sam Smith’s cover of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, the work was created by Anna Arnell and directed by Vaughan Arnell through Moxie Pictures.
In a strange twist of events, Ikea has brought grime music into the Christmas season to address the issue of "home shame" around this time of year.
The spot sees a team of inanimate objects—including a toy dinosaur, a teapot and a panda statue, as voiced by grime MC D Double E—perform a grime track throwing shade on the owners of a messy home. It was directed by Tom Kuntz through MJZ. Vizeum is the media agency.
With the help of House of Pain’s 1992 hit Jump Around, Marks & Spencer celebrated the Christmas season with a dance-centric spot featuring 50 jumpers from its range.
This marks the brand’s first TV ad by Odd since it won the retailer’s clothing and home ad account earlier this year. It was created by Turhan Osman and Nick Stickland, and directed by Jake Nava through Cherry Studios. The media agency is Mindshare.
Steering clear of the season’s fantastical flair, Lidl launched a remarkably realistic ad to mark "the nights getting colder and the wine getting hotter".
The spot covers Skype calls, indecisive present shopping and fruitless family charades, bringing to light the spirit of the season without all the reindeer and elves. It was created by Victoria Foster and directed by Vince Squibb through Academy.
TV presenters Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis get into the Christmas spirit to promote M&S Food's festive range.
Pottering through a Christmas market, the pair chat with food fans as they taste samples from the range, including a torched winter berry pavlova and M&S's "perfect" turkey.
It was created by Simon Parkin and Simon Johnson, and directed by Finn McGough (live action) and Helen Downing (food) through Pulse.
Robbie Williams has taken up the role of Kevin the Carrot as Aldi’s mascot returns for a fourth year.
First teased with a clip of the campaign's antagonists—Brummy Brussels sprouts gang the Leafy Blinders—the ad follows Kevin’s escape from a near-certain linching (or grating), before performing a festive version of Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You in a big-top tent, as voiced by the 18-time Brit Award winner himself.
Kevin has been a staple of Aldi’s Christmas ads since 2016’s "Christmas carrot".
The work was created by Clive Davis and Andy Fenton, and directed by Todd Mueller and Kylie Matulick through Stink.
TK Maxx is raising the bar on Christmas gifting with the help of skiing daredevil TK. Stepping away from the "same old, same old" approach of buying gifts, TK sets out to deliver outside-the-box presents destined to wow his friends and family.
It was created by Joanna Osborne and Joseph Paul, and directed by Sam Hibbard through Somesuch. Mindshare is the media agency.
Visa called on a team of 13 independent shopkeepers for an epic cover of Somebody to Love by Queen, in aid of the humble high-street shop.
Aired during the Pride of Britain Awards on ITV, the ad saw barbers, booksellers and music aficionados put their vocal range to encourage Christmas shoppers to "show [the] high street some love" this year.
As well as broadcast, out-of-home, print and social media activity and earned media amplification, the campaign comes alongside a trio of media partnerships, including a series of business-based ads on Channel 4, a partnership with Global covering 12 local Heart radio stations and work featured in The Guardian.
The campaign was written by Samuel Simmonds and Olivia Weston, art directed by George Coyle, Harry O’Grady and Emily Downing, and directed by Gary Freedman through Independent. The media agency is Starcom.
It seems singalongs are a common theme for this year’s Christmas campaigns, with Amazon enlisting the vocal talents of Solomon Burke to soundtrack this year’s ad.
The spot begins with a girl playing Everybody Needs Somebody to Love on a miniature piano, before being joined by buskers, drivers, a tap-dancing man and even an Amazon parcel.
It was created by Nick Bird and Lee Smith, and directed by Henry Alex Rubin through Smuggler. Media planning and buying is by Initiative.
Asda’s ad follows the journey of a young girl as she attempts to bring Christmas cheer to Tyldesley, Wigan, where in 2016 residents dubbed the Christmas tree in their market square the worst in the country for its "dead-looking" appearance.
The work was written by Neil Clarke, art directed by Jay Phillips and directed by Tom Green through Stink.
Christmas icon Mariah Carey reprised her classic All I Want for Christmas to promote Walkers.
Set during a music video shoot, the spot sees five-time Grammy winner Carey hand out self-obsessed gifts to crew members, before having an intense tug-of-war with a man dressed as an elf over the last packet of crisps.
The work was created by Alex Grieve and directed by Joseph Kahn through Caviar. The media agency is OMD UK.
With a focus on timeless fashion Zalando’s festive campaign showcases the unifying power of Christmas across generations.
Set to Cosmic Dancer by T-Rex, the ad follows a sharply dressed nan (model Frances Dunscombe) and her grandson as they attend a multigenerational Christmas party, decked out with pinball, poker and dancing.
The work was directed by Sam Hibbard through Somesuch.
In a name-based pun to end all name-based puns, Iceland partnered Disney to create an ad starring the cast of Frozen 2, ahead of the film’s release on 22 November.
The spot begins with a family playing an old-fashioned game of charades; but things take a surreal turn when a boy throws a stuffed toy of Frozen character Olaf (available in Iceland stores) into the air and it comes to life alongside CGI co-stars Anna, Elsa and Kristoff.
It was created in-house by Iceland and Disney’s in-house creative agency and was produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The partnership was facilitated by Iceland’s media agency, the7stars.
Argos has created a percussion-heavy spot, set to 1980s classic Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds.
Giving into temptation, a dad begins to play his daughter’s miniature drum kit (as spotted in the Argos catalogue); after coming down the stairs to find her dad playing, the daughter is invited to join on a second set of drums.
The work was created by Ludo Thomas and Arthur Harry, and directed by Traktor through Stink.
Following last year’s "Elsie’s gift", Very focused on the role of community during the winter season for its Christmas campaign.
The spot follows one street’s extravagant mission to deliver a present to an old man, Sidney, and his dog, ending with Sidney receiving his glowing purple gift from a remote-controlled truck, before spending Christmas with different members of the local community.
It was written by Hannah Talbut, art directed by Joanne Boyle and directed by Against All Odds through Passion Animation Studios.