Christmas 2019: a review of the festive ads

‘Tis the season for brands and businesses to jump on the Christmas marketing bandwagon, but who pulls it off and who leaves us feeling all ‘bah humbug’?
Read on to find our reviews of this year’s best and worst Christmas campaigns.

 

MCDONALD’S: ‘ARCHIE THE REINDEER’

 

This year, McDonald’s really capitalised on the season of sentimentality with a revisit to their campaign #ReindeerReady. This time, we see a young girl become friends with a loveable reindeer, Archie. The pair run out of “reindeer treats” and the family set of to McDonald’s, where the ad moves from animation to live-action and we discover Archie was actually the family dog!

Created by Leo Burnett, the animation is reminiscent of Disney-favourite, Frozen, and the story and budding friendship scenes remind us of the Monty the Penguin narrative as delivered by John Lewis back in 2014.

Capitalising on a child’s excitement to get ready for Santa with mince pies and carrots for his reindeer, the campaign follows their ad from last year where Santa contends with some very disgruntled reindeers with no reindeer treats. The perfect alignment for their brand, this ad is a sure winner.

 

JOHN LEWIS & PARTNERS: ‘EXCITABLE EDGAR’

 

Arguably the most anticipated Christmas ad of the year, every year, this year marked John Lewis & Partners’ first join campaign with Waitrose & Partners. They opted for “excitable Edgar” a loveable dragon with an enthusiasm for Christmas who manages to ruin some celebrations. With help from his friend, Edgar eventually finds his niche as official Christmas pudding-lighter.

Created by Simon Lloyd, the ad was high-production and followed all the tropes of its predecessors; cute central character, emotional slowed-down version of a classic and anticipation build. But, we couldn’t help but feel the magic of Christmas was lost with the Christmas pudding being its central product.

Previous ads centred around gift-giving and finding the perfect present for that special loved one, and giving a food product centre-stage makes resonance difficult.

 

HAFOD HARDWARE: ‘BE A KID THIS CHRISTMAS’

 

 What nobody expected to see trending this Christmas was an ad from locally-run shop, Hafod Hardware. With over 2.5m views on YouTube and endless press coverage, this family-run business in Rhayader, Wales created their campaign #BeAKidThisChristmas with a budget of just £100. Made by the owner and his filmmaker friend, the budget was spent entirely on a studio to cover the song used in the ad.We follow 2-year-old Arthur as he serves customers, attempts gift-wrapping and use power tools around the store. At the end, Arthur changes to show it’s actually his father, Thomas.

Grandmother and grandson team, Pauline Lewis and Thomas Lewis Jones, who said, “I think it has struck a chord because it’s such a simple message. It’s real and it’s not saying: ‘Spend, spend, spend.’ I think you can tell it’s made by people who care about this business.”

At a time when the high-street, particularly local stores, are struggling, it’s heart-warming to see a simple film featuring a family hardware store cause such a stir.

 

This ad is the epitome of what can happen when you focus on real emotional engagement. Find out more about how to centre on people, not product in your next campaign.

 

CO-OP: ‘NOT SO SILENT NIGHT’

 

Co-Op enlisted a brass band to cover the Christmas classic, Fairytale of New York by The Pogues in this Christmas ad which follows a nurse as she comes home following a shift.

Highlighting the impact Co-Op sales have on local causes, the aim of the campaign is to show how one simple purchase can affect local groups and charities. With more and more people concerned about their local area, this could have been high impact and the narrative of the nurse could have been developed.

As it stands, the ad left us somewhat dissatisfied and unimpressed. The key to success would have been to make these local causes the true heart of this campaign.

 

SAINSBURY’S ‘NICHOLAS THE SWEEP’

 

This year, Sainsbury’s came to us with a brand new Christmas story that intertwines the origins of Santa with Oliver Twist to celebrate both the festive period and Sainsbury’s 150th anniversary.

 

Set in Dickensian London in 1869, a young sweep is banished after being wrongfully accused of stealing a clementine. One of the founders of Sainsbury’s, Mary Ann Sainsbury makes a guest appearance and saves the day and Thomas the sweep, gifting him a bag of clementines.

Thomas takes his sack back to the orphanage where he leaves a clementine in the stocking of each child, and a lump of coal for their employee. A smart, Christmassy piece, this makes for a great festive campaign.

 

Brand positioning at Christmas is essential. A strong sense of brand can make or break your festive campaign. Read our tips for positioning your brand at Christmas here.

IKEA: SILENCE THE CRITICS

IKEA opted for something a little different this Christmas. Roping in grime artist, MC D Double E, who created an original song for the ad – now available to download due to its popularity, ad exudes personality and humour.

Inanimate ornaments and wall hangings around one families home spring to life to begin rapping about how much they dislike their surroundings. The family combats this by going to IKEA and sprucing the place up, silencing the critics.

The ad is refreshing and right on brand for the furniture retail company. This was a personal favourite for our team!

 

PELOTON: THE GIFT THAT GIVES BACK

Peloton’s advert ‘the gift that gives back’ is a perfect example of what not to do for your festive advertising. The exercise bike company received widespread backlash over their Christmas advert, which showed a woman receive the bike as a gift from her husband, and go on to track her progress over a year, insinuating that the husband is getting a more attractive wife in return for gifting her a peloton.

The bike, which retails at over $2000, opts for a cheesy self-filmed montage and doesn’t really seem to show any key features that differentiate the product from cheaper alternatives. The YouTube advert has so far garnered 24,000 dislikes and 21,000 likes, and a twitter storm of people comparing it to the dystopian future  series black mirror and showing concern for the female character.

 

 

GREENPEACE: ‘ULTIMATE COMEDY ROAST BATTLE – TURKEY VS. POTATO’

 

Greenpeace decided to focus their Christmas campaign on highlighting the environmental impact of growing animal feed to support the demand for Christmas day turkeys.  The ad sees a potato and a turkey in a comedy roast, taking turns to share digs when eventually the potato accuses the turkey of “destroying the planet”.

 

Unlike the usual tact charity campaigns take of emotional, heartstring tugging adverts, this one is engaging and funny; “if the planet carries on heating up at this rate we’ll all be getting roasted,” the potato exclaims as the turkey leaves the stage.

A fantastic way to highlight the environmental impact of eating meat, especially given the growing trend of veganism in the UK.

 

ICELAND: ‘MAGIC OF FROZEN’

 

Following on from their campaign in 2018 would never be an easy feat. The response that their ad featuring Rang-tan got could never, realistically, be matched.

This year, the brand decided to partner with Disney to created an ad starring the cast of Frozen 2, which was released ahead of the film release on 22 November. Seeing a pun opportunity like no other, the spot began with a family playing charades, following which Olaf comes to life from his stuffed toy counterpart alongside CGI co-stars, Anna, Elsa and Kristoff.

Created in-house by Iceland and Disney, the partnership could have been fantastic but the ad felt more like a promotion of Frozen than it did for Iceland. Given the huge amounts of money expected to be involved in a brand deal like this, it begs the question whether the investment was worth it.

 

And there you have it, some of our favourite Christmas campaigns from 2019 along with some of the less impactful efforts. As experts in marketing strategy and brand positioning, we know how to create a campaign to hit your target audience hard at Christmastime. Find out more about our work and what we do.

 

 

 

 

Let's work together

Get in touch for more information about our services.

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx.
  • By clicking submit below, you consent to Influential storing and processing your personal data, for full details please see our Privacy Policy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.