12 Days of Christmas … 3 of the best Christmas adverts and why they work

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12 days of christmas, 3 of the best christmas adverts

Earlier this season we looked at last year’s campaigns, and what they could teach us. So it’s only right to have a look at some of the best Christmas adverts of this year and see what is working and why.

This year has seen a lot of focus around looking after each other, families and the values of Christmas. Though getting together and celebrating is obviously a reoccurring theme every year. There seems to have been more drive on looking out for those who maybe need a little extra love this year, and not taking the little things for granted.

As we are only looking at our top three, we will exclude coca cola’s ‘holidays are coming’ as this is a big favourite each year. And for the first time in a few years, John Lewis is not featured in our tops picks!

Sainsbury’s – Mog the Cat

Sainsbury’s have certainly perfected the cute animal advertisement with this year’s Christmas offering which brings back Mog the Cat. Their advert focuses on Mog. Who though adorable, is not having the best night’s sleep, which causes her to be a little clumsy. In all the cute falls and bumps, there are a few broken things. And somehow the house burns down. Luckily Mog is able to call the fire brigade and lead them to the house. A ruined house is obviously not an ideal situation at the best of times, but on Christmas day, it makes things that much worse. So what they do? Well, all of the neighbours come together and help the family pull through their Christmas day. Leaving lots of happy faces.

Why does this work?

This works as a campaign for a few reasons. Firstly it catches your attention. Not only for the cute cat, but the whole children’s story set up. With Christmas being a time we all regress a little, and think back to childhood, this is a very clever idea. It’s also quite a soothing advert, with the narrator. Which is a change from loud, flashy, adverts you get at this time of year.

Secondly it has that goodwill aspect. When everything’s gone wrong, people will step in and help. I think that’s something that people worry about in a modern day where people can be scared to talk to each other. Let alone offer to help clear up in a disaster. They also sign off with “Christmas is for sharing”. Showing you don’t have to wait for something disastrous to happen, you just need to share.

And third, they still sell their product and have a cute cuddly toy that they can sell because of the advert. A cuddly toy that you can only get by shopping at Sainsbury’s. So not only is it an add on sale for current customers. It’s an enticing product to get new customers in the door to buy one, and maybe a few other ‘bits’ whilst they’re there. And with the toys selling out at Sainsbury’s across the country. And demand so high papers are running stories on where you can get similar toys, I’d say Sainsbury’s have created a very successful campaign.

Though the advert is narrative and there is no direct selling of any products. Notice how Christmas dinner is featured. And very cleverly almost at the end of the advert, when the neighbours begin to gather, there is a close up shot of some oranges in a little girls hand. Effective shot? Yes, as it begins to build you up for the happy ending, but why oranges? Sainsbury’s use their brand recognition of the colour orange to remind people that this isn’t just a lovely advert. Its a Sainsbury’s advert and you should connect those feelings to Sainsbury’s.

So what can you take away from this for your campaign?

  • Work the emotions already there. The same as January will bring a general feeling of new starts, dieting and being broke. Christmas will bring feeling of reminiscing, shopping and excitement.
  • Use your brand. This doesn’t have to be over the top. But a subtle nod to your brand identity will serve you well if you are doing a narrative campaign
  • Have a strong purpose. Do you want to send a message, or sell a particular product? Ensure you are focused on your purpose and  you don’t sway too far from that, to create a strong advert.


TK Maxx – Love your neighbour

This ad focuses on those little conversations you have each day. Saying hello to your neighbour who you really can’t remember the name of.  Moaning to your partner about the noisy neighbour upstairs. Or even being startled by the amount of lights the house a few doors down has managed to cram on to their house this year. Though you might not class them as your family or your dearest friends. They are your nearest. And perhaps you should remember this year that being a good neighbour is something you can achieve quite easily.

Like Sainsbury’s, this plays on that neighbourly feeling, but it does it slightly differently. The advert acknowledges that it might not always be rushing to each other needs, and you might even get frustrated by the people who live around you. But Christmas means reaching out, even if it’s only with one little gift.

It hits a good tone, with no overly happy, or really sarcastic voiceovers. Just genuine examples of how we go about our day.

This has a little more of a sales pitch than Sainsburys, with the tag line ‘spread a little TK Maxx’. Instead of a general message like share more this Christmas. They push on the fact that because their gifts are so cheap, it is that little bit easier to be a good neighbour and splash out on one more present.

So what can you take away from this for your campaign?

  • Cute animals are not always needed to send a good message – The last few years have seen a stream of successful adverts featuring adorable animals. So it’s easy to think you should go straight for a mascot. But not every message needs a pet pal to get it across.
  • Use real examples your audience can relate to – What really put this advert in our top few was that it knew it’s audience, and what their audience are like. If your potential customers can really relate to your advert, they are much more likely to pay attention. And possibly buy your product.
  • Highlight your Unique Selling Point – TK Maxx highlights in one line that it is a cheaper alternative to other shops when it comes to getting your Christmas presents sorted. Highlighting why people should come to you doesn’t have to be overly excessive. Just well put.


Paypal – No presents

PayPal’s collection of adverts looks at how couples and families are taking a slightly different approach to Christmas shopping this year. By using one click with Paypal.

The first advert looks at two small lads who think that Mum and Dad haven’t bothered with gifts this year. Because they haven’t been out shopping at all. They accept the fact they won’t be getting anything. So are shocked when they find presents filling underneath the tree on Christmas morning.

The second advert looks at a couple who are out shopping. When the guy spots a gadget he really likes the look of. In the few minutes they are at the shop window, the girlfriend is able to find the gift online, and buy it Paypal, without the boyfriend even realising.

The first advert had it’s fair share of critics. Due to the suggestion that Santa is not involved at all in the present process, ruining Christmas for many children. But I disagree.

Why does this work?

I think this captures a modern day Christmas, and the problems with keeping presents a surprise till the big day. Yes it doesn’t feature Santa and his workshop, but not many adverts do these days. With adverts all over the television of the great presents you can buy, I don’t believe this is too much different.

This advert acknowledges how savvy kids are at that age. Knowing that presents may be in the house at some point soon, so being extra eagle eyed. It acknowledges that in a modern age, the chance of parents doing at least some of their shopping from the comfort of their sofa is quite a big possibility.

The second advert is a really quick, and to the point. An example of how Paypal allows you to get those special gifts for your other half before they’ve even realised you were shopping. Want Christmas shopping without the stress? Use Paypal. The only message that the 30 second advert needs.

So what can you take away from this for your campaign?

  •  You don’t always have to use tradition at Christmas – Going modern doesn’t have to be awful. The fact is times are changing. If you can show how these things have changed for the better, you might be on to something.
  • Advertise to all your personas – These 2 adverts have both been shown throughout the Christmas period. One is aimed at families, with parents who don’t have time to shop. The other at young couples who can shop, but want to create a surprise. Paypal hasn’t excluded anyone, and hasn’t tried to cram it all in to one ad. Take the time to appeal to each of the personas who buy from you.
  • Show the benefit of your product – Paypal does a great job of showing the benefits through their narrative story. Without saying it is quicker and easier to shop through Paypal. Show how your product or service brings people benefit in a practical manner, and more people should be able to relate to it.



It’s a dog thing …

And we couldn’t help but give a special mention for Asda and it’s #becauseitschristmas campaign. Not only a great collection of adverts that really focus on the fun of Christmas. But an advert featuring a Chops lookalike! George and Chops were very impressed, and are even considering a remake! Though we’re not sure Chops would keep on the antlers. Or that George wouldn’t get distracted by something off camera, so we’ll leave it to the professionals for now. Take a look at the Asda Christmas Pug!


We know there were tons of great Christmas ads this year, which made it really hard to narrow it down to just 3! So what is your favourite Christmas ad this year and why? 

Take a look at the rest of our countdown to the 12 days of Christmas, for more advice, how to’s and examples of marketing during this festive season.

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