Christmas advertising: Our annual roundup

November 15th, 2016 / Sophie Allen

It counts as annual if we did it last year, right? Grand!

Below, we’ve recapped the ads from some of the Christmas campaign contest’s key players, and used an extremely sophisticated rating system to decide which are tickling our festive fancy.

John Lewis – Buster the Boxer

When it comes to the John Lewis ad we’re usually due an emotional punch in the guts, but considering this year has been completely and objectively awful the brand’s gone for something a little more uplifting. That said, this ad has left everyone, well… divided (which also follows the theme of 2016, no?). All we know is that, regardless of whether you like the ad itself, the way they’ve integrated the campaign across multiple platforms – including online and in-store – is fantastic.

Festive rating: 3.5
Joy rating: 4
Overall rating: 3.75 mince pies

M&S – Christmas with love from Mrs Claus

Hot on the heels of John Lewis M&S appeared, out of the blue, with their heartwarming story of Mrs Claus and her excellent, excellent turtleneck jumperThe family narrative underscoring the whole thing is really relatable, while their portrayal of Mrs Claus is refreshingly fun and modern. As M&S continues to struggle with homeware and clothing profits – and begins closing stores – this warm, emotive campaign, which is being supported with extensive social including innovative Canvas ads, should help the brand to reconnect with consumers.

Festive rating: 5
Joy rating: 4
Overall rating: 4.5 mince pies

Sainsbury’s – The Greatest Gift

It should be a winner. It has a huge show tune sung by James Corden (for reasons that, admittedly, escape us), it’s directed by Sam Fell and it uses stop-frame animation techniques. It’s undeniably fun and festive with a nice emotional touch, and it shows the diversity of British families – but the Scrooge in us just finds it horribly, sickly sweet. The brand is however underpinning the campaign with a charitable cause, donating all the profits from sales of Gingerbread Dave and their stop-frame animation kit to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which helps to support their family-first messaging.

Festive rating: 4
Joy rating: 5
Twee penalty: 5
Overall rating: 2 mince pies

Aldi – Kevin the Carrot

We’re torn on this on in the studio. While some of us think that anthropomorphised vegetables are completely adorable, others think that this story of a tiny carrot who climbs past its dead friends, accidentally grates off some of his skin, then fulfils its purpose as a tempting treat for a predatory reindeer is – as Donald Trump would say (probably) – ‘big-league’ dark.

Festive rating: 5
Joy rating: 1
Overall rating: 3 mince pies

Waitrose – Home for Christmas

Waitrose has been quietly creating lovely Christmas campaigns for a while now. While leaving John Lewis to steal the show, they’ve been making more subtle ads including one of our team’s all-time favourites from 2014. This year’s offering goes a bit bigger, showing a tiny (and absolutely precious) robin’s fraught journey home for Christmas.

The visuals are stunning, the music is really emotive, and overall it’s a simple yet beautiful story. And, as part of the wider campaign, they’ve produced a children’s book of the story with acclaimed writer Michael Mopurgo.

Festive rating: 5
Joy rating: 5
Overall rating: 5 mince pies

So, there we have it – Waitrose is officially our favourite Christmas ad of this year. Think we’ve got it all wrong? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

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