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Best Christmas Adverts of 2017

25 of the best and the worst Christmas adverts from 2017, with reviews from the Smart Insights team

The battle for the most popular Christmas advert is underway. It has been reported that UK companies will spend an estimated £5.6bn on marketing in the run-up to Christmas. While prime television spots alone are expected to attract a spend of £1.3bn. From Tescos to John Lewis we cover the best and the worst of Christmas adverts for 2017.

Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer have used a well-known character, Paddington bear, as part of their Christmas advert this year. They have launched a fully integrated campaign using the hashtag, #LoveTheBear, accompanied by its own paw emoji. The campaigns' aim according to M&S’s Marketing Director, Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne was:

'We have to break through that mood of the nation, which is why the campaign plays into something much warmer and more heartfelt. As we see every year, people do want a break, a little bit, from reality and this is what the campaign is supposed to provide them with,”

Alongside the advert and social media promotion, they have created marmalade-themed recipes and are hosting private screenings of the new Paddington film both for members of its Sparks loyalty scheme. In-store, you will find Paddington Bear merchandise, childrenswear, Paddington Bear-themed foods and a book dedicated to the story.

Campaign Live reported that 'M&S's campaign achieved 159,957 engagements within the first 12 hours of release on 7 November. Of those interactions, 93% were positive in sentiment'. Whereas John Lewis only received 74,039 engagements within 12 hours.

Vodafone

Martin Freeman returns in Vodafone's Christmas ads, with a festive love story. Martin meets a young lady who’s using her Vodafone Video pass to stream It’s a Wonderful Life. The love story is told across six pieces of content – two for TV and four for social. Their main aim is to highlight two new launches their pay as you go product PayG 1 and Vodafone Passes.

Tesco

Every family has a different turkey tale, Tesco features a range of families spending Christmas day together as they focus their attention t0 the turkey. They finish the Ad with the tag like 'However you do Christmas, we’ve got a turkey for you'. I think this is a great advert from Tesco, it's heartwarming and authentic.

Tesco did receive some backlash for the advert because they featured a Muslim family in the advert. Tesco replied by issuing a statement:

“Everyone is welcome at Tesco this Christmas and we’re proud to celebrate the many ways our customers come together for the festive season.”

John Lewis - Moz the Monster

The much anticipated John Lewis advert was launched last week, and there have been mixed reviews. Similar to previous years John Lewis has returned to its focus on creating an ad that will pull at your heartstrings. The advert focused on a little boy befriending a monster named Moz living under his bed. In true JohnLewis-stylee Moz the Monster is accompanied by Elbow, who perform The Beatles’ lullaby Golden Slumbers.

They launched the advert on John Lewis’s website, social media channel, and in-store. as part of their campaign, they have teamed up with Facebook to use their augmented reality platform, offering consumers the chance to ‘Mozify’ their faces. You can also buy Moz merchandise such as cuddly toys, books, mugs, and pajamas.

Marketing Week reported that the advert received '2,906 mentions of the John Lewis Christmas ad on social media between 7 and 8am, after the ad was released at 7.40am. During this first hour, mentions peaked at 246 per minute. Overall consumer sentiment was 86% positive, while 14% of mentions were negative.'

For me, this advert didn't reach the expectations of previous years. It didn't leave me feeling warm, fuzzy and excited for the festive season, it actually left me confused.

Sainsburys - #EverybitofChristmas

The supermarket says it made a conscious decision to move away from one-off Christmas ads in favor of a more consistent brand approach. They made an advert based on their 'Living well' campaign for consistency. The campaign is centered around a song about Christmas, featuring members of the public and a couple of 'celebrities'. For me, Sainsbury's was the biggest disappointment, compared to previous years such as Mog the cat or 1914 Christmas day ads, Sainsburys really missed a trick. For those who can keep up with the jumpy, feative song you can sing along in their karaoke version.

Peacocks - #XMASFACTOR

That's right peacocks have joined the battle of the Christmas adverts, with an XFactor theme. Featuring ex-contestants such as Jedward, Honey G and Wagner, they sing a bespoke rap 'Deck the halls with rhymes from Honey'. Although I felt a little sorry for the acts featured in the ad, it stands out from the crowd and is perfect for their target audience.

McDonalds - #reindeerready

McDonalds based their story on a young girl who saves a McDonald's carrot for Santa's reindeer. We follow her as she takes the carrot home ready for the reindeers until she gets home and her older brother says You know there's more than one, right?'.

Although a slightly confusing message going to McDonalds for 'carrots', they have supported the advert with a Snapchat partnership that introduces a hub on the social platform with special features. There's a carrot-collecting game, an augmented reality lens that shows dancing reindeer and new geofilters.

The link between a carrot and McDonalds seemed odd to me as that's not what they are really about. But it tells a sweet story which got the 'Aww' vote from the Smart Insights team.

Argos - #Readyfortakeoff

Argos take us to their magical Argos distribution centre, where the elves are busy helping Santa deliver toys. However, a robotic puppy is left behind, so one of the elves chases the delivery spaceship to make sure the toy gets to the child in time. The ad ends with the message: “Argos, ready for take-off. Presents delivered within four hours'. The ad helps promote that Argos will be making deliveries within 4 hours up until 6pm on Christmas Eve.

According to Gary Kibble, Marketing Director at Argos:

'There’s an opportunity as 40% of the respective customer base currently shops at both brands so encouraging the other 60% to shop across the two is a big opportunity.'

Aldi - Kevin the carrot is back

What our Email Marketing Manager, Kim Greenop-Gadsby had to say about Aldi's Christmas advert:

'Kevin the carrot is back and this time he’s looking for Santa and love. This year we find Kevin outside in the snow, acting as a substitute nose for a snowman. Harry Potter actor, Jim Broadbent commences to narrate, as Kevin is awoken by a passing train. Believing to have seen Santa, Kevin catches the train. Once inside he enters the dining car and his gaze falls upon the beautiful Katie, as she lounges upon some mince pies while reading “9½ Leeks”. Our hero is instantly infatuated and undertakes the perilous journey to reach his carrot love. He travels passed a needle-like fork and the remains of a bisected gingerbread man. Horrified, Kevin starts a chain-like reaction that leads to peas being throw into the air and heading directly towards his love. With no thought of his own safety he throws himself in front of the speeding pea. And all goes dark. He awakens to being held gently by Katie and continues to say, “I think I pea-ed myself," thus winning over his lady as she bends down to kiss her romantic hero.

This ad pulls at the heartstrings, as much as animated carrots can. Like most retailers who have a mascot in their advert, Aldi is no different and is selling a plush version of Kevin and Katie. Last year, customers scooped up multiple Kevin's and proceeded to sell them on various auction sites at extortionate prices. This year Aldi have restricted purchases to 2 Kevins and 2 Katies per customer with sales supporting the Teenage Cancer Trust.'

The carrot soft toys went on sale on 19th November online and sold out straight away. People already have the toys on eBay selling for around £50.

Pandora - DO Get What You Wish For

Somya our Content Intern, reviews Pandora's ad:

'Pandora – the jewellers you can rely on, to deliver great Christmas adverts. Unlike the dreamy Debenhams video, Pandora has gone for a more light-hearted approach, yet, making for a highly effective Christmas advert! Starting with a groovy background score, the video immediately establishes a relaxed, cheerful setting, where we see couples asking for their dream Christmas presents, by dropping not-so-subtle hints.

In addition to giving you numerous clever ideas on how to nudge your partner on getting that perfect present, the advert cleverly makes use of Christmas symbolism, to create a simplistic yet powerful holiday narrative. Moreover, the video cleverly ends in exactly 60 seconds, avoiding any dangers of becoming too repetitive.

Another interesting feature of this Christmas advert is definitely the choice of words. The caption, “DO Get What You Wish For”, could’ve been a question asking people what are they wishing for, this Christmas, but Pandora wanted to leave no scope for confusion there. Even though the caption may sound quite authoritative, oddly enough, it can help give a sense of rightfulness to the viewer. Through its simple yet powerful use of diction, the Pandora advert can leave you with a sense of worthiness, worthiness to deserve a great Christmas present.

Asda - Best Christmas Ever

The very Charlie and the Chocolate Factory advert features a grandad and his granddaughter. The couple explores the Asda factory discovering new and exciting creations for Christmas. Although a good advert for me this doesn't have the wow factor or get me excited for Christmas.

Waitrose - #ChristmasTogether

Our Blog Editor, Annie shares her thoughts on Waitrose:

'One of the greatest things about Christmas is the magical element in colour, either garish reds, and greens or delicate silvers, golds and blue to represent chilly winter days. Waitrose’s Christmas advert doesn’t capture any of these elements, instead choosing to represent their best food with a dull black and white filter. Like many other supermarket Christmas adverts, you find yourself looking at the different festive foods they offer, but the bland colours leave me feeling disappointed. Where is the crisp golden turkey skin? The brownness of the gingerbread? The light, comfortable and supportive warm hue of a family coming together at Christmas? I’m sure that even when snowed in with a black-out the candles would still shine some festive, warm emotion into the house but there’s nothing warm about this advert. I find myself staring at some black and white boiled potatoes in a black and white pan and it doesn’t make me want to run to Waitrose to buy them. I want colour.'

Sky - Movies at Christmas

Our Senior Research Analyst, Robert Jones reviews Sky's Christmas advert:

'With the aim of bringing the family together around a movie at Christmas, Sky Cinema has produced an ad for the Christmas season which follows the relationship between a mother and daughter over 25 years. The piece, created by WCRS for Sky follows a mother and daughter from 1992 to the present day. The focus of the ad is on The sound of music, one of the first films to be broadcast on Sky in 1989. The clever part? As the little girl ages, the Sky TV boxes change too. If you watch closely at each shot of the TV, you’ll notice the Sky boxes accurately change over time. For example, moving from the old Amstrad Sky TV box and finishing with a Sky Q box, in the present day.

This represents the relationship between Sky and their loyal customers. Even in the age of Netflix, who doesn’t know someone who has Sky TV. Brilliantly thought through, effectively put together and finished off with a few mentions of “The Sky is full of stars” a quote from the Sound of Music'.

TalkTalk - This is Christmas

A real British family enjoying Christmas day. TalkTalk film a one families Christmas day to capture authentic, unscripted footage. Compared to the big brand campaigns this is a refreshing advert that everyone can relate to. For me, TalkTalk have captured what Christmas is all about.

Boots - #Showthemyouknowthem

Boots take us back through two sisters memories, looking at their Christmases together sharing 11 boots products from the brand’s archives. Annie shares her thoughts:

'I am a big fan of storytelling! Storytelling is a great way to represent your brand, what you stand for, and what your product means to your audience. I think Boots got this right! We’ve probably all sent at least one beauty related product to a family member or friend, but here boots show you WHY it’s important and what it means. Two sisters who have been through life’s challenges and milestones together, coming together for Christmas. But, for me, it’s the story Boots tells that engrossed me into the advert because above all else, it’s relatable. Being able to empathize is a valuable personal emotion and Boots shows that they can not only relate but empathize with the wider population and show the value in their products - the coming together of family at Christmas with gifts that mean something.'

Debenhams - #Youshall

Somya, our Content Intern shares her thoughts on Debenhams attempts to copy the Cinderella story:

'The Debenhams Christmas advert is here and let me tell you, it’s here to stay! Amidst a plethora of not-so-Christmassy Christmas adverts, the Debenhams advert hits you right in the feels. It makes you want to curl up in your bed, with some fuzzy popcorn and re-watch all the versions of the Cinderella movie ever. No, really, the advert itself has the potential to bloom out in a full-fledged feature film, Cinderella 2.0.

The advert begins with a romantic train setting, where the modern-day, clumsy Cinderella meets her prince charming, and needless to say, it’s love at first sight! However, Debenhams has taken the age-old fairytale, added a quirky twist to it and made it oh-so-relevant to today’s day and age. Even though the advert consists the classic lost shoe, romance finds its way through hashtags and social media. With the help of rapid reposting, #FindMyShoe and #FindThatGirl seem to be the two magical hashtags that unite the digitally-savvy lovers.

In a short duration, the brand has managed to convey a powerful narrative with a strong emotional quotient. The advert effortlessly showcases the strength of smooth and crisp storytelling, in conveying a brand message and engaging the audiences. As Ryan Deutsch (Senior Vice President of Global Customer Success at Persado) correctly points out, “Retailers need to get their arms around the fact that emotions matter and that urgency is not the most important emotion." Oh, and a cameo by Ewan McGregor ain’t hurtin’ nobody!'

Barbour - The Snowman and The Snowdog

Rob gives his honest thoughts on Barbour's Christmas ad:

'The ad features the story of The Snowman and The snowdog, which was an animated film launched in 2012, is a sequel to The Snowman.

Whilst the ad includes some brilliant animation, snow, and a pet dog, which all make the ad feel Christmassy, the ad also doesn’t seem to have any association with the Barbour brand. Nevertheless, it’s great to see an animated Christmas film being used, as we all  know those sort of ads.'

Matalan - Creating Value in Every Moment

Our Email Marketing Manager, Kim Greenop-Gadsby had to say about Matalans Christmas campaign:

'This year Matalan features a busy family and Dodger the dog. While the busy mum and teacher dashes off she grabs the dreaded “to-do list”, which Dodger tries to eat. We cut to the mum trying to organize the primary school Christmas pageant (which of course, includes a dinosaur, superheros and Santa). Through all the chaos of kids picking noses, fighting, and set disasters, our mum receives a text from Matalan that her click-and-collect is ready. We can instantly observe our mum relax and smile. We cut to the dad and kids at home, dealing with their own chaos. Dodger again is trying to eat dad’s to-do list. After they struggle to get the tree and house ready we see a well behaved Dodger in a cute reindeer outfit. Mum collects her order from Matalan and arrives to the Christmas party. Our mum changes into a stunning red dress is relaxed and full of smiles. Mum and dad enter a room and we see their smiles disappear. Naughty Dodger has eaten all the food.

I can relate to this advert. A working mum, having loads of those to-do lists on the fridge and dogs that would happily eat anything in sight. However, I don’t think I would be as relaxed or cheery as the mum without a relaxant pill or copious amounts of mulled wine. For Christmas, we all have a desire to make things as perfect as possible. At least this advert shows no matter how many to-do lists you have, things can still go Pete Tong.'

TK Maxx - A White Christmas

TK Maxx offers something a little different as they promise that they will deliver actual snow to people for free if you find an exclusive snow globe in the shop. This is a great spin on the normal christmas advert and makes them stand out from the very competitive crowd.

Children's Hospice - #FirstChristmas

Among the chaos of Christmas, adverts like this bring us back to what really matters and raises awareness for those who find Christmas hard. This advert by Shooting Star Chase brings to life the story of the Barker family, who tragically lost their son, Matthias, after a battle with cancer. The ad tells the story of a father, struggling to come to terms with the passing of his son and how the family comes together to help him cope with their grief. Although hard to watch, an advert like this always gets my vote.

House of Fraser - Bring Merry Back

The sister theme strikes again, as House of Fraser follows two sisters through each Christmas they have spent together.

Paddy Earnshaw, Chief Marketing Officer at House of Fraser, said:

"As adults we can sometimes lose sight of the magic of Christmas as we have to do grown up stuff like manage plans and ‘to do’ lists. There is no such thing as a picture-perfect Christmas where everything goes to plan; that’s half the charm and the fun. "

Lidl

Lidl have a series of six short separate adverts following different characters such as The Cavalier Carver, The Mince Pie maverick, and the Double Dipper. Characters we can all relate to and see through the Christmas period.

Claire Farrant, the supermarket’s Marketing Director, said:

‘Our campaign “Every Lidl Thing For Christmas” has been developed to showcase the fantastic breadth of food and drink we have for the UK customer at Lidl.'

Morrisons - Christmas List

Morrisons looks to tell the story of how three families prepare for their perfect Christmas. The first ad shows a family writing letters to Santa, listing what they want this Christmas. The second focuses on a young girl and brother, who encourages her to do things such as feed a reindeer and putting the star on the tree. The aim to promote their Free From range. The adverts lack the wow factor for me and I the link between an older brother encouraging his sister to do new things and eating gluten-free are still confusing.

Here is what our Senior Research Analyst, Rob Jones, thought:

'As Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s have suffered over the past few years, Morrisons have found their feet. Morrisons have increased market share, profits and revenues more recently, this is is almost unheard of in these difficult times for grocers, with the exception of the discounters Aldi and Lidl. A marketing overhaul has also helped to reinvent the brand. Continuing the brand message that Morrisons is a family-focused brand, the story follows a little girl that is nervous to feed a reindeer and take centre stage in a school play, but isn’t nervous about the treats she can eat, as they are gluten-free. It’s easy to associate. those with allergies and dietary limits are always unsure of what they can eat, represented by the little girl's nervousness of most things. The ad promotes the free from range, sharing the message that everyone can enjoy mince pies at Christmas.'

Overall the quality has been good but not as good compared to previous years. The biggest disappointment for me was John Lewis. It has been good to see brands using more digital platforms to promote their campaigns and adapting to platforms such as snapchat or Instagram. Next year I would love to see retailers take a brave move into a new creative territory to shake it up and to challenge consumers’ perceptions of something unexpected.

Which Christmas advert gets your vote this year? Let us know what you think and connect with us on TwitterFacebookInstagram or LinkedIn.

By Jessica Wade

I am the Social Media Executive for Smart Insights. I manage all of Smart Insights social media channels and social strategy. I love all things social, most of the time you will find me endlessly scrolling through Instagram. You can follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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