November 14, 2019 | 6 min read time

Ok, let's keep this one simple - it's that time of year when marketing departments and agencies can revel in the glory of the release of their pride and joy: their 2019 Christmas Advert. Thanks to the digital age, these ads have wider and more profound reach and impact than ever before, which shows no sign of stopping. Reports show that big brands are set to spend £6billion on their advertising placements over the festive season, on top of production costs which can stack up into the millions. Do they demonstrate £ for £ ROI in terms of the bottom line come January? Or are they still predominantly brand builders? Either way, the public at large fall in love with them as soon as Halloween is done and dusted and, well, we do too. We're not going to deep-dive too far into these, let's keep things festive.

Here's our pick of the Top 5 Christmas Ads to look out for in 2019:

1 - John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners - Excitable Edgar 



It's not officially the festive season until the Coca-Cola truck rolls in to town and John Lewis reveal their Christmas advert. This year, together with Waitrose & Partners, John Lewis are sharing the festive tale of a little girl and her excitable friend, Edgar (cue new hashtag #ExcitableEdgar!) Their story this year is all about the 'magic of friendship' and how just one solitary thoughtful gesture can make all the difference to someone's life. "Edgar’s excitement around the festive season can often lead to fiery consequences, but Ava sparks an idea for the perfect present to help him light up Christmas in his own special way." What do you think?

2 - Walkers Crisps - All Mariah Carey Wants For Christmas 



You're at a Christmas Party, and you haven't heard Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas"... was it even a Christmas Party? Her smash hit from 1994 (yes, it's that old), has been the lynchpin of any Christmas themed playlist, radio show and party for over 20 years now, and it shows no sign of slowing down. So, Walker's use of Mariah as their Christmas celeb, over their staple Gary Lineker, was a seemingly brilliant choice. In their Christmas advert, we see what happens behind the scenes when global megastar Mariah Carey and a Christmas Elf discover the last bag of Walkers' new seasonal flavour: "Pigs in Blankets". If we're being honest, the way she bites the crisp at the end doesn't suggest she is thoroughly enjoying it (or partakes in crisps very often as part of her regular diet), but that may just be a tongue-in-cheek nod to her 'diva' status. This was one of the earliest festive releases, and it's certainly got people talking (read the comments feed). An additional benefit of 'bandwagon-hopping' like this is that, as people search for Mariah's song (on YouTube and the like), this video has a great chance of being visible, garnering extra attention online. Will you be trying Walkers Pigs in Blankets over the festive period?

3 - Iceland - The Magic of Frozen 



In a stroke of perfect timing (largely on Disney's part), this November see's the release of the sequel to one of Disney's biggest money-spinners in the form of 'Frozen 2'. So, it's equally of good timing for Iceland to leverage the huge reach of this franchise in their latest ad, with one simple message and three words: "Perfect Christmas Dinner". These kinds of mutually beneficial cross-promotions are often found between movies and other commercial entities, but it's safe to say few have been so intrinsically linked and simple to execute as this - this tie-in is also likely to lead to extended viral/digital reach as kids and families search for Frozen based content online. Smart thinking. The battle of the supermarkets is going to be fascinating this year.

4 - IKEA - Silence The Critics #WonderfulEveryday  



The tenuous link between the festive season and tidying up your home has been exploited magnificently by IKEA with a wonderful take on how we see the state of our homes over the holidays. The film, IKEA's first foray into Christmas ads,  shows a range of everyday household objects coming to life and performing a scathing diss track (featuring lyrics from grime MC D-Double-E) about a place that clearly isn’t ready for Christmas visitors, ending with the magic of IKEA remedying the state of the room, silencing the critics.The juxtaposition of modern grime with old homewares is just brilliant. This ad was a firm favourite with the team at Wonderful on first viewing, and the younger generation have started to take note too, raising awareness of the ad to their parents ahead of the festive period. Some comments online have even called for the track to be made available on Spotify, showing the power the soundtrack has within these christmas campaigns (as was demonstrated previously by backing tracks hitting the charts over previous years). Has it inspired you to make some interior decor changes around your home?

5 - Argos - The Book of Dreams  



Today's parental generation was prime fodder for the traditional printed Argos Catalogue. Children of the 80s and 90s will remember fondly times spent in November and December, thumbing through the massive 'Book of Dreams', circling toys and turning the corners on pages to hint to their parents what they'd like to be opening on Christmas Day. In this advert (extended version above!), the high street behemoth Argos renames the catalogue to ‘The Book of Dreams’ as a dad’s childhood dreams are awoken when he sees the drum-kit his daughter has circled. Argos have extended this campaign, aligning the digital with this historic, traditional way of interacting with their brand by digitising this year's catalogue and putting their 'Book of Dreams' online for easy browsing! Smart move, but we're not convinced it's quite the same as attacking a printed copy with a Sharpie!

Here's a couple which didn't make the cut:

It's so tough to pick 5, so here's it's only fair to namedrop a couple more which deserve honourable mentions (you'll have seen these already):

In summary, it seems there's a real trend of nostalgia with these ads this year, and very clever life-stage targeting by each of the brands involved. Their ability to capture our attention, whilst creating virally sharable content is of the highest standard it's ever been (all of these ads have online mechanisms for maximising their reach whether through hashtags or additional actionable content), and the conversations being driven both on and offline have put each of their brands in the collective psyche of shoppers as they go headfirst into the final pay cheque of the year. Which of these brands will be getting the most of your hard-earned money this year? Are there any other ads you love?

If this has got you thinking about your Christmas campaigns, and you're yet to execute them this year, get in touch and discuss how we can get your product to market this festive season. 

Read The Top 10 Christmas Ads of 2020 here.

James Gray
James Gray, Head of Digital: Experienced marketer with a passion for all things digital. He nerds-out about data, using it to power the strategic thinking driving our online and offline campaigns.

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