William Roberts, Digital Marketing Associate at Clicksmith
The best time of the year has come around once again, bringing with it an array of promotional content! At Clicksmith, we know good marketing when we see it. The right Christmas ad has the potential to resonate with a large audience and the power to stay in the audience’s consciousness. It often does so by creating a narrative that’s sentimental in nature, utilises nostalgia, and includes humour – all set against the backdrop of festive imagery. As the designated office Christmas fanatic, I’ve ranked the latest seasonal ads from some of the biggest companies. Let’s take a look to determine whether they’re merry and bright, or the equivalent of coal in your stockings.
6. M&S: Love Thismas, Not Thatmas
The less said about this the better. By far the worst part is a proud rejection of Christmas traditions from a company that needs you to buy everything Christmas from them. There’s a point to be made here about how adverts should avoid, at all costs, alienating their target audience. It’s obvious, but if you’re selling plant pots and your target audience is gardeners, you don’t want to spend the duration of your commercial talking about how lame gardening is.
Very weird. It’s a not thatmas from us. 2/10
5. Waitrose: It’s Time for the Good Stuff
The definition of “fine”. Waitrose’s 2023 advert plays to the lavish culinary options of the season by front and centre highlighting its Christmas food offerings. It’s a direct approach, but the onslaught of lights and decorations that cover every inch of the frame helps create a festive video, separating it from just a normal Waitrose ad. There’s nothing truly remarkable, heart-warming or unconventional here – it’s a very ‘by the book’ commercial populated by celebrity cameos. Nonetheless, there’s nothing offensive here either.
Decent, but you can do better. Where’s the good stuff? 4/10
4. Asda: Make this Christmas Incredi-Bublé
Do you like Michael Buble? Asda thinks you do (okay I do too). The famous singer known for his immense Christmas back catalogue is the star of Asda’s 2023 festive advert. Through him, we are showcased to all the seasonal cuisine the company is offering this Christmas period. It’s definitely a light-hearted approach, opting to market from the novelty of having Bublé than playing on our heart strings like John Lewis (coming up next!). Yet there’s charm here, and something about it is very watchable. There’s no message either, which I think works in its favour. It’s unapologetically a Christmas ad.
Incredi-bublély solid. 5/10
3. John Lewis: Snapper – The Perfect Tree
With a reputation for poignant, emotive adverts, this year’s offering from John Lewis follows the same tried and tested formula. That’s no criticism – it’s a formula that works; a new bond is quickly established between a child and a creature that’s magical/whimsical, and after something alters that bond, it is ultimately resolved by the end of the advert. However, something about 2023’s rendition didn’t quite leave the same impact. Perhaps it’s because it’s a pattern we know so well that we’re innately tuned in to the emotional beats, or perhaps simply audiences find it harder to empathise with a cactus (certainly an unconventional choice) than say a penguin or fox, like in prior years. Time will see how fondly “Snapper” is remembered, but John Lewis’ predictable nature paired with an odd choice for a Christmas creature (really, a cactus?) doesn’t relay the same power as past efforts.
Could be snappier. 6/10
2. Amazon: Joy Ride
One minute isn’t a lot of time to tell a story, yet Amazon’s 2023 Christmas advert does so effortlessly. The tale of three older women reliving childhood joy (with help from Amazon of course) is surprisingly touching. With no dialogue spoken, it’s a testament to how effective short, non-verbal storytelling can be. It’s maybe not the most Christmassy ad, in fact, the only aspect that relates to the festive season is the snow and a few decorations, but the spirit of giving is well represented. Whilst not being super memorable, it’s very serviceable.
There’s joy to be found here. 8/10
1. Coca-Cola: The World Needs more Santas
Out of nowhere Coke launches a wholesome, nostalgic advert riddled with Christmas imagery that captures the best of what Santa represents. A gorgeous filter is applied to the video, a clear nod to the 1930’s, which was the origin of Coke’s relationship with Father Christmas. The coca–cola company, whilst not being fully responsible, helped pioneer Saint Nick’s red attire and look through their advertisements. This strong association between the two works in Coke’s favour, making the beverage a staple of festive traditions. The meaning behind the message – “the world needs more Santas” – is that we can all be like Santa and show acts of kindness to one another. This is later reinforced when the advert seamlessly transitions into our world. It’s a simple but greatly effective ad that plays to the brand’s strengths.
Santa would be proud. 9/10
So, what can Christmas adverts teach us about good marketing? Fundamentally, they create an experience for the viewer where storytelling is used to build a connection between the consumer and the product. Getting it right is hard but as long as they come from even the smallest place of passion and goodwill, the effort is evident on screen.
At Clicksmith, we believe good marketing isn’t just for Christmas. For year-round marketing success, get in touch.