The Best Christmas Adverts of All Time… In Our Opinion

Forget advent calendars… it’s Christmas adverts that mark the official start of the festive season, and we’re looking back on some of our favourites.

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With so much entertainment at our finger tips, the idea of sitting through an ad break becomes more alien and inconvenient with every passing year; unless it’s Christmas time. Catching a glimpse of the first festive ad of the year comes with a comforting assurance that the merriment can begin, and a polite nudge to start Christmas shopping as soon as possible.

Since the start of the pandemic, influencer marketing was the only channel not to decrease in effectiveness when it comes to conversion– further exacerbating the struggle for traditional advertising against the advancing digital world. Yet through it all, Christmas adverts remain a cultural phenomenon. Big brands set bigger budgets for their ads every year, with heart-warming storylines that arouse a warm and fuzzy sentimentality which can leave a lasting impression. We’ve compiled the TAKUMI team’s favourite Christmas adverts, past and present, because … it’s Christmas.

Guinness ’04

Our UK Business Development Director, Darragh, chose the iconic Guinness advert as his favourite of all time. Hailing from Ireland himself, Darragh says “the imagery, locations, people and themes used are very wholesome. There’s no real reference to the brand until the end, and it mainly just reminds me of home at Christmas”.  

With its message “Even at the Home of the Black Stuff, We’re dreaming of a White One”, the ad has run every year in Ireland since 2004. Like all good Christmas ads, this one is timeless.

 

Sainsbury’s – ‘1914’ 2014

For TAKUMI’s Marketing Assistant, Mikhaila, the 2014 Sainsbury’s ad is unmatched. It depicts the story of the combatants in WW1 laying down their arms for a football match on Christmas Day, marking 100 years since the real event. As Mikhaila explains,

“It was made in partnership with the British Legion. I love it because it conveys such a beautiful message and makes the story that many of us know so tangible. It’s emotional to watch, and the fact that the brand is only mentioned at the very end makes it all the more powerful.”

John Lewis – ‘Man on the Moon’ 2015

Marketing Manager, Sophie Lee, selected John Lewis’ offering from 2015 as her favourite. Aptly named ‘Man on the Moon’, the two minute film centres around a little girl who has spotted a lonely, elderly man through her telescope, living on the Moon all by himself. With determination and a lot of balloons, the girl manages to send a Christmas gift to the man on the moon: his very own telescope, so he can look down onto earth and not feel so alone. If the storyline wasn’t moving enough, it all plays out to an angelic cover of ‘Half the World Away’ and ends with the tagline ‘show someone they’re loved this Christmas’, culminating in an advert that feels more topical in 2021 than it did back in 2015.

What’s more, John Lewis allowed footage from Man on the Moon to be used by the charity Age UK. The footage featured in their Christmas appeal, to raise awareness of the millions of older people suffering from loneliness in the UK.

M&M’s- ‘Faint’ 1996

TAKUMI’s US Managing Director, Sara Joy Madsen, pulled an old gem out of the bag with M&M’s Christmas advert, ‘Faint’. First aired in 1996, the ad has been resurrected multiple times over the years and even got its own sequel back in 2017. Surprisingly few festive ads star Santa Clause, with brands opting for a fresh take on an old message. Nowadays, the brief is basically ‘capture the spirit of Christmas, but make it modern’, with some brands quite literally taking the concept into a new dimension, as you’ll see in the next ad on our list.

The original ‘Faint’ has aired every year since 1996 and while the film itself has stayed the same, the departing tagline has changed just 4 times. The sequel, ‘Faint 2: A Very Yellow Christmas’, first aired in 2017 and breathed new life into the old, while remaining true to tradition. By this, we mean Santa with a smartphone. Check the sequel out here.

John Lewis- ‘Unexpected Guest’ 2021

TAKUMI’s Chief People Officer, Akua, also has a soft spot for the John Lewis ads; now the paradigm of Christmas tv advertising. This year’s film, ‘Unexpected Guest’, adds a futuristic spin to John Lewis’ signature offering: a heartwarming storyline, a stripped down cover of a popular song, cinematic imagery, and a powerful yet subtle call to action. The ad might focus on an alien’s first Christmas, but there is nothing alien about it.

Interestingly, John Lewis are pushing the marketing potential of the ad far and wide, bringing the story to life with interactive gifs, Snapchat lenses, game-like experiences, exclusive content and prizes for My John Lewis members, AR characters, and more. You can even buy the illuminating Christmas jumper featured in the advert, with 10% of profits going to charities. As with John Lewis ads of yesteryear, customers can also buy other products featured in scenes from the film.

For Akua, it’s the diversity of the characters which makes this advert so impactful. Each year, anticipation for Christmas advert debuts grows stronger and stronger, and it’s up to brands to deliver. The phenomenon has transformed into a golden opportunity for brands to remind consumers that they are in touch with society and the things that people need to see, and diverse representation is certainly one of those things.

John Lewis set the benchmark for Christmas advertising, and every year the bar gets raised.

The buzz that brands are able to generate each December shows the phenomenal potential that traditional advertising still holds… if only just for Christmas.

These are just a few of the TAKUMI team’s favourites: what are yours?

If you would like to guest contribute to our blog, simply drop the team an email and we’ll get back to you hello@takumi.com.