The battle of the Christmas ads – who did it best?

It’s that time of year again when the advertising agencies bring out the big guns. The ‘Christmas favourites’ battle used to be all about who would nab the top spot in the pop charts, but now it seems people are more focused on who created the number one TV advert – with accompanying merchandise of course!

At first we planned on comparing all the ads, but it turns out there’s a lot these days. It seems that everyone wants to get a piece of the (mince) pie. And we didn’t see the point in being overly negative just for the sake of it, so here’s a rundown of some of our favourites instead.

We don’t think it’s a coincidence that the one thing they’ve all got in common is a touch of comedy. ‘Tis the season to be jolly and all that, and we like to think we have a good sense of humour here at Shine…



‘A Christmas Love Story’ by Ogilvy & Mather
There’s something very ‘Love Actually’ about this ad. Perhaps because it features Martin Freeman – albeit fully clothed this time – yet again displaying the endearing awkwardness we all loved in the film. This particular love story actually consists of five separate adverts, depicting a blossoming romance which is threatened with communication blunders and mishaps. Luckily, Vodafone ensures the story ends with a kiss – thanks to its new PAYG, video and social pass services.

We thought Ogilvy & Mather hit the nail on the head with this one. The use of self-deprecating humour throughout appeals perfectly to Vodafone’s UK audience. And even though the references to the new services are less than subtle, they’re actually so blindingly obvious – and so much a part of the story – that it adds to the overall comedic effect.



‘Snowed In’ by Adam & Eve/DDB
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a White Christmas down here in the south, so for us, this is the stuff of dreams. When so many adverts are appealing more to children – or at least the inner child in all of us – we felt this stood out as a truly grown-up advert, a feeling which is accentuated by the decision to show the ad in black and white.

No presents or animated creatures here, just a toasty fire, joyous company and delicious food – all washed down with a glass or two of whatever takes your fancy. Perfectly in line with Waitrose’s target audience. Just imagine not being able to go anywhere but the nearest cosy pub – with plenty of good food and booze to see you through a snowstorm. What could be better?



‘Every Bit of Christmas’ by Wieden+Kennedy
This ad was actually quite divisive in the office – and is apparently also having the same effect across the UK. But if you think about it, it’s genius. ‘No frills’ might be an understatement – and it’s clearly designed to look rather amateurish, by starring real people from all over Britain. But it ties in perfectly with Sainsbury’s existing ‘Live Well for Less’ campaign.

There’s an upbeat song (with a karaoke version, for extra audience engagement!), lots of images of tasty food, and even a cameo from The Royle Family’s Ricky Tomlinson. And in a time when money is tight, we think it could well be Sainsbury’s that has the last laugh. Many retailers have spent millions on adverts that will be unusable come the 26th December, but Sainsbury’s has invested wisely in an ad that sits in well with its year-round marketing campaign. Proving that sometimes, the ‘simple but effective’ route really is the best way to get your message across!



‘This is Christmas’ by CHI & Partners
We love this advert. There’s no bells or whistles – just a realistic Christmas that most people can relate to, at least in part. From dad struggling to wrap presents, to the mountains of wrapping paper all over the floor after opening them. And from mum sneaking an early glass of fizz when no one is looking – to the silly hats at the dinner table, and everyone falling asleep in front of the TV.

This ad doesn’t attempt to make Christmas seem too perfect or over-romanticised – and for that we applaud CHI & Partners, the advertising agency behind it. The main focus is being together and enjoying time with family and friends, rather than anything else. And for those you can’t be with physically, well they’re only a phone call away – presumably using a TalkTalk plan. Though overall, the sales aspect of this ad is relatively minimal – another reason to like it!



‘Reindeer Ready’ by Leo Burnett
The team at Leo Burnett really did get the balance of humour and ‘cuteness’ just right with this ad. We couldn’t stop smiling at the little girl walking around proudly all day, holding the carrot she’d saved for the reindeer.

McDonald’s probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think of Christmas. But this advert manages to put a festive spin on McDonald’s products, by creating a link through one of the traditions that most people in the UK can relate to. Carrots are now even being promoted as ‘reindeer treats’ in stores, as part of a special Christmas menu.

To coincide with the ad, McDonald’s has also partnered with Snapchat to create a fully integrated digital campaign – and the hashtag #reindeerready is already being used by fans of the campaign. Features can be unlocked by scanning codes on all its Christmas packaging – and include a game called ‘Carrot Run’ and a reindeer face lens. We know that McDonald’s is first and foremost a family brand, and with this campaign they’ve clearly conveyed a ‘fun for all the family’ message.



It wouldn’t be Christmas without the much-anticipated Coca Cola ‘Holidays are coming’ ad. We didn’t think it was fair to include it in our favourites – as it is after all pretty much exactly the same every year – but we must admit that Christmas doesn’t feel like it’s truly coming until we see that big red truck. And it seems the cast of Channel 4’s Gogglebox feel the same way, in what was a very clever piece of advertising – bringing the Coca Cola ad right up to date for 2017 by premiering it on the popular Friday evening TV show.


So that’s our favourite adverts, but what about yours? Tweet us at @Shine_Creative and tell us who took the Christmas ad crown for you this year! And whilst we don’t make TV ads here at Shine, we do create spectacular video, animation, press and digital advertising – so please email if you think we can help you in 2018.