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Christmas is coming and, as a digital marketing agency, we’re particularly excited to see what the best Christmas marketing campaigns will be this year. With the John Lewis Christmas advert released earlier than ever this year, we got thinking about our favourite Christmas adverts over the years.

Keep reading to the end for a few tips on what can make a seasonal marketing campaign so successful.

Zelst’s Choice: Best Christmas Ad Campaigns

  1. Aldi – Kevin the Carrot

An overwhelming favourite among our team, Aldi first introduced Kevin the Carrot in its 2016 Christmas advert, and he continues to grace our screens every year at Christmas. With his own social media accounts, line of stuffed toys and even an Instagram filter, it looks like Kevin isn’t going anywhere.

Last year’s advert featured Kevin, far from home, determined to find a way back so he can spend Christmas with his family (with a little help along the way), and this year tells the story of Ebanana Scrooge learning to be nicer to others from a ghost. Reminding us all about the importance of family and kindness at Christmas-time, Aldi’s returning character is full of life and fun – just be careful when you’re serving the kids’ carrots at dinner!

  1. Sainsbury’s – ‘1914’ and ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’

Although John Lewis often gets the best rep for Christmas advertising – and rightly so, since it was John Lewis that popularised the annual tradition – Sainsbury’s have had some of the best Christmas ad campaigns over the years.

This is their 2014 Christmas advert and short film, ‘1914’. On the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the supermarket consulted historians and recreated one of the most famous true moments of the war.

Heartwarming, patriotic and sweet, the short film captured the hearts of the nation and, with a promise of donations to the Royal British Legion (who had worked with Sainsbury’s prior to this advert), Sainsbury’s truly did remind us of the values of Christmas even in hard times.

The next year’s Christmas advert pulled back from the deeply emotional and focused instead on the clumsy adventures of housecat Mog, based on the beloved children’s book series by Judith Kerr.

  1. Irn Bru – ‘The Snowman’
One of the best Christmas ad campaigns in Scotland comes from soft drink giant Irn Bru. Taking on the beloved children’s animated film ‘The Snowman’, Irn Bru recreated a few scenes (with a twist!) to create a hilarious Christmas classic.
Featuring cameos from Scottish icons such as the Falkirk Wheel, George Square in Glasgow and even the Loch Ness Monster, the traditional style mixed with a hilarious twist is very much in keeping with the Irn Bru style. This advert was so popular that it was re-released in 2017 to include the Forth Bridge and Edinburgh Castle, and they even made a sequel in 2019.
  1. Just Eat – Doggy Dogg
Snoop Dogg has had a varied career, but one of his ventures has been a long-running partnership with Just Eat. In 2020, Just Eat released its Christmas advert in the form of a music video featuring ‘Doggy Dogg’, a canine puppet voiced by his namesake.
The video delighted fans who called for the song to be made the new Christmas number one, and although it didn’t quite make the cut, it has started to make the rounds again this year. Just Eat is truly utilising star power and the song is catchy and Christmassy – what more could we ask for?
  1. Celebrations – ‘The Lonely Bounty’
Is it really Christmas if you don’t have at least one sharing box of chocolates in your house at any given moment? One of the most popular, Mars’ Celebrations, has released their best Christmas marketing campaign yet – they’re pairing their advert with a promise to allow customers to ‘return’ their uneaten Bounty chocolates.

Don’t you just love a happy ending?

  1. John Lewis – ‘The Long Wait’ and ‘Unexpected Guest’

Alongside Coca Cola (appearing in just a second!), John Lewis played a massive role in the popularisation of the annual Christmas advert. Over the years they’ve covered many different plots and themes, most of which tug at your heartstrings.

Their 2011 advert, ‘The Long Wait’, was really where the now-famous style came into its own. Who didn’t melt a little when the boy runs into his parents’ room with a big gift, excited to hand it over?

We would be remiss if we didn’t include this year’s John Lewis advert. ‘Unexpected Guest’ features an extra-terrestrial being who crashes on Earth at Christmas time. She befriends a young boy, who takes it upon himself to introduce her to Christmas traditions like mince pies and jumpers. Sweet, heartfelt and sprinkled with humour, John Lewis really has done it again. They’ve also paired this advert with a featured page on their website, where you can shop everything in the advert and even play an interactive game.
  1. Coca Cola – ‘Holidays Are Coming’
Of course, we wouldn’t make it through this list without a nod to one of the best Christmas ad campaigns of all time. Dating back to 1995, the most-uttered phrase about this advert is, “It’s not Christmas until the Coke advert comes on.”
This Coca Cola advert plays on our collective nostalgia and encourages Christmas joy every year. Their slogan is very much correct – holidays are coming!

Best Christmas Ad Campaign Tips

If you’re looking for some inspiration to send out the best Christmas marketing campaign for your business, look no further! Here are our top three Christmas ad campaign ideas to get your creativity going.
  1. Use something well-known or nostalgic
As you can see from our favourite Christmas ads, many of them include references to a piece of popular media – between A Christmas Carol, The Snowman and Love, Actually, Christmas campaigning loves to play on feelings of nostalgia. Much like the comfort of a hearty Christmas dinner or watching the same film every year, the best Christmas marketing campaigns come with a comforting element.
  1. Follow a story
The great thing about this advice is that it can span years. Take Kevin the Carrot, who was introduced in 2016 – the nation has been following his adventures ever since. In the Celebrations advert, they use the least-popular of the sharing box, show that he is lonely from never being chosen, and pairs him with that most-despised Christmas side, the humble brussels sprout. You may not like their taste, but their love story is oddly sweet.
  1. Use contrast
Irn Bru’s ‘The Snowman’ and the Celebrations ‘The Lonely Bounty’ achieve very similar goals in totally opposite ways. The former takes a traditional, artistic animation style and operatic song and pairs them with a story about a boy getting his Irn Bru stolen by his flying snowman and then dropped in the middle of Glasgow. The latter is a terribly sad depiction of a lonely character finally finding love and acceptance – played by a man dressed as a giant Bounty and a woman dressed as a vegetable. Contrast captures the imagination and entertains people. Playing serious against silly subverts the audience’s expectations and encourages them to laugh.     Christmas advertising is a fun tradition, and we love to see what different companies come up with for the best Christmas marketing campaigns every year. At Zelst, our team is hard at work on our clients’ Christmas marketing and advertising campaigns. If you’re interested in improving your SEO and advertising in the new year, please get in touch with us today.