A Mumbrella Christmas wrap of 2013’s best (and worst) festive ads

Are you struggling to feel festive? Then look no further than this wrap of how brands around the world have been promoting themselves this holiday season to inject a bit of cheer to your Christmas Eve.

1. John Lewis’s Christmas message follows a similar formula to last year’s epic snowman adventure, and gets to the heart of what Christmas should be about – spending time with friends and family. The heart-wrenching spot tells the story of best friends Bear and Hare who have not enjoyed Christmas together yet. Set against the melancholic tones of Liley Allen, have some tissues handy. But don’t worry if you don’t feel moved by the ad, Twitter suggests you’re not the only one…


2. Westfield kicked off it’s Christmas marketing season early, with this smile-inducing ad launching before Halloween. It tells the story of a boy called Nick, who grows up giving away everything he owns. For the first ad of the “Christmas ad season”, Westfield was hard to beat with its lack of overly commercialised Christmas marketing a pleasurable surprise.


3. Tesco’s story of a family seen through Christmas holiday home videos has a beautiful honesty about it that makes it believable and relatable. It provides a nice contrast to the Woolworths and Coles celebrity chef fronted Christmas marketing campaigns.


4. Boots followed the trend of celebrating the joy of giving rather than receiving in its spot which focuses on a young teenager who gives gifts to the people in his life who have helped him.

5. Tied for 5th place are the childhood literary, Disney themed ads from Morrison’s and Marks & Spencer. Morrison’s Beauty and the Beast inspired ‘Be Our Guest’ ad celebrates the food that for many families is the centre of the holiday, as well as popular TV hosts Ant and Dec, while Marks & Spencer’s Alice in Wonderland/the Wizard of Oz is all about the budget of the ad. The Christmas ad manages to include references to Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Aladdin in a two-and-a-half minute spot. Oh, and a cameo from Helena Bonham Carter.


6. Baileys‘ retelling of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker suggests ‘spend some time with the girls this Christmas’. It’s a visually pleasing Christmas ad which gets you in the mood to have a few holiday drinks with your pals.

7. It’s hard to go past the Christmas spot from Harvey Nichols which does away with the traditional idea of giving and celebrates the idea ‘a little something for them, a bigger something for you’ with its ‘Sorry, I spent it on myself’ gift collection. I think I feel most sorry for the kid who gets a sink plug for Christmas…

8. Sainsbury’s tackled Christmas advertising with an series of ads called ‘Christmas in a Day’, leading to an hour-long film of the same name. The ads depicted what Christmas is for most families: the struggle to put up the Christmas tree, leaving treats out for Santa, young kids going nuts over gifts and cooking the turkey dinner. The ad was named 2013’s best festive branded entertainment campaign by  brand agency The One Centre’s independent publication, Branded Arts Review.

9.  The tech world got its “John Lewis” moment in Apple‘s Christmas ad promoting the iPhone 5S. The ad features a a teen disconnected from his family, apparently distracted by his mobile device but ends with him revealing he’s been busy creating a montage of his family during the holidays.


10. Cadbury‘s ‘unwrap joy’ Christmas ad encapsulates the joy of tearing open the wrapping on a present…and of course chocolate, lots of chocolate.


Honourable mention: eBay’s Christmas campaign focused on what the brand can do for consumers this Christmas – it also featured Usain Bolt’s mother.

Dishonourable mention: Bonds Christmas campaign which featured a host of undie clad men and women invading a Victorian neighbourhood to sing, badly, and spread some Christmas cheer is everything that a Christmas ad should not be. Christmas is not about people prancing around singing in their underwear, not even in Australia where it is hot enough to do this…

In line with this, we also have to give Kmart a dishonourable mention for its ad which saw men ringing bells apparently hidden in their boxers to the tune of Jingle Bells.


And for the most depressing use of the Christmas theme Greenpeace narrowly beats out Melbourne’s Youth Projects.

Greenpeace’s less than cheery spot sees Santa (played by Jim Carter “Downton Abbey” butler Carson) deliver a message from a melting Arctic.
He tells children that the melting ice has made operations and their daily life “intolerable and impossible and there may be no alternative but to cancel Christmas”. Santa continues on to say he has written to world leaders and says these individuals now top his “naughty list”. C’mon guys, surely we can communicate political messages without hijacking Santa?

On a local scale, a recent ad from creative agency Grown Ups for Melbourne charity Youth Projects sees a more respectable Santa reading a Christmas letter from a young girl called Rose. However her letter paints a picture no one wants for a child.

Miranda Ward


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