Christmas Bauballs

The 5 Best and Worst Christmas TV Ad Campaigns of 2016

The lights are on, the decor is up and the shops are prepped, but still, nothing quite says Christmas like a heartwarming festive TV ad.

It’s that time of year again when the biggest brands eagerly wait in anticipation to see who will have the best Christmas TV campaign. The best ads should make you laugh, cry or give you that warm fuzzy feeling inside that pushes you to go and spend your November pay cheque. The worst ads can irritate you and even taint your view of the brand.

It’s December 1st, so right now the ads are in full swing. Here’s my pick on the top five best UK christmas campaigns of 2016, followed by five that didn’t quite hit the mark.

The 5 Best

1. John Lewis: Buster the Boxer

For me, nothing quite beats an ad that gets a marketing message across humorously, and that’s a welcome change for John Lewis whose previous adverts have been known to have viewers in tears. It’s no surprise that “Buster the Boxer” is already John Lewis’s most-shared Christmas ad of all time as it does such a brilliant job at kicking off the christmas spirit of loves, laughter and sharing. With over 1.9 million shares across social media it’s the most shared ad of 2016 and John Lewis most successful ad ever. Creative agency ‘Adam & Eve/DDB’ prove themselves yet again.

2. M&S: Mrs Claus

Damn M&S! I think we were all impressed with this one. Initially I was a little worried this ad might end up being a little too “cheesy” and cliché, but 40 seconds in, I was a fan. Jake’s adorable voice pulled on my heart strings and by the end I may even have shed a tear…(maybe)! Not only is this ad 100% festive, it hits the nail on the head at family life and I’m sure anyone with a younger or older sibling can relate to the love, hate relationship. I certainly did!

3. Sainsbury’s: The Greatest Gift

What I love about this ad is the way it comically and so truthfully tells the story of typical British life. From twerking office managers at christmas parties, to train delays and the rat-race of working a full-time job leaving us no time for the ones we love — things we can all relate to. So the idea of encouraging people to prioritise family time is a nice touch. Using one of Britain’s favourite comedians, James Gordon is the icing on the cake! Even if you’re not a fan of Mr Gordon his oh-so-british voice is enough to give you those warm-and-fuzzies. The ad ends on a heart-waming and festive high with the family surrounded by one another alongside good food. Yup, I caught that. Nice one Sainsbury’s.

4. Amazon Prime: A Priest and Imam

What a powerful and beautifully-timed ad. At a time when there is such a negative divide amongst race and religion, Amazon show that despite our differences, we can work together.  The wonderful thing about this ad is that instead of hiring actors, Amazon worked with The Muslim Council of Great Britain and the Christian Muslim Forum to use a real priest and Imam.

5. Burberry: The Tale of Thomas Burberry


As I watched this I had to question whether I was watching a lavish TV ad or a trailer for an old English movie that would never be made. This gripping 3-minute ad uses British hollywood actors to show the history of the brand and the birth of the revolutionary ideas that make their fabrics and craftsmanship so unique. Burberry you’ve made us all appreciate your quality with this campaign.

The 5 Worst

1. Lidl UK: Christmas Turkey

No, no, no Lidl. While I understand what you were trying to do here, please don’t show me a live turkey roaming around happy one second and then on a plate being carved the next. I’m not even a vegetarian but this just felt so very wrong. They could’ve very easily have achieved their goal by ending the ad at the 45-second mark.

2. DFS: Christmas Delivery

I’m not sure if they purposely chose someone with such a boring monotone voice for this ad, but from the moment it began, it was lost. A nerdy looking, toneless puppet telling me why she is proud to work at dfs didn’t have me in the least bit excited about christmas. And I had to chuckle at they way they’ve drawn attention to their employees slaving away during the holiday period to get people new sofas. Very festive dfs.

3. Tesco: Bring it on

Tesco, I really think you could have done better than a 60-second monologue explaining why it’s ok to fill your shelves full of christmas stuff so early in the year. It just says sales desperation. In the first 15 seconds I actually thought “fair play, the average consumer will relate to this”, but 20/30 seconds in and I was just bored. After watching this ad once, you’ll be sure to flick over next time. Very forgettable.

4. House of Fraser: Christmas is coming for you

Ok so not the worst on this list, I get the upbeat happy spirit they were going for but it all feels a little overkill and the general theme is almost more ‘Halloweeny’ than ‘Christmasy’! The song choice didn’t feel very festive either. Does the target House of Fraser customer even know this song? Perhaps they’re aiming this at a younger audience? Another thing that threw me was the startling number of products they used and with them all so far away from the camera you can barely distinguish them from any other retailer. Perhaps you aren’t meant to? But wait, isn’t that the purpose of an ad?

5. Debenhams: #Foundit for a fabulous christmas

This one made the list because its just too product focussed. Oh and that irritating background music is just torturous. Come on Debenhams it’s Christmas! I get you want people to buy your stuff but couldn’t you have done something a little more creative? The whole thing is just too ‘salesy’ and sadly the celebrity voices feel a little wasted. Sorry Debs!

So that’s my wrap upon the best and worst christmas TV ad campaigns of 2016. What are your favourites? Which ones do you hate? Let me know in the comments!

 

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