As the last trick or treater left our doorsteps and Halloween decorations came down, the big countdown to Christmas has begun – so what is the mood for this year’s Christmas ad campaigns?

Last year took a cautious mood, with pandemic messaging naturally being centre stage, so this year’s Christmas TV ads have a tricky path to tread. Walking between a celebratory tone as we all look forward to finally spending a normal Christmas with our families and a sensitive awareness of lingering Covid rates and “re-entry anxiety” amongst many shoppers still feeling the pandemic aftershock.

Amazon leapt on this in their Christmas ad, which features a young woman nervous about returning to reality, with a neighbour offering up a gift ordered online to show that “kindness is the greatest gift of all”.

John Lewis painted us a picture of a world beyond Planet Earth with its alien landing advert – a clever move to make us think bigger picture and remember the simple message of friendship.

Fenwick chose a traditional and fun classic popular with children, in its Christmas window unveil of Shaun the Sheep’s new Christmas movie.

Barbour also went with a traditional children’s classic in bringing Paddington illustrations to life again in an animated film “Please look after this bear”.

Marks & Spencer has made its beloved Percy the ‘pig in the golden blanket’ this year. No longer just a bestselling sweetie, Percy now stars in both the advert and a new range of gifts, from advent calendars to pyjamas.

Latest data suggests that the High Street is already seeing shoppers vote with their feet, despite many predicting it would be another online Christmas. Online searches for Christmas presents surged earlier than ever this year, fuelled by the media narrative of potential supply chain delays and advent calendars have been flying off the shelves weeks ahead of previous years.

Christmas TV ads started breaking at the start of November, tapping into a collective feeling that everyone is just ‘ready’ to have a holiday, eat and be merry. It’s been a long 18 months and even though Covid has not gone away, Christmas paints an opportunity to just enjoy a little bit of magical sparkle and joy.

For marketers, the last eighteen months have tested our skill at being considered, listening to customer insights, carefully crafting our messaging and being ‘on point’ just at the right time.

There has been a lot of scope for getting it wrong, not reading the room, trying to be too serious, or not serious enough.

But maybe now we can relax the rules just a little and remember everyone just likes to feel good at Christmas. When done right, marketing that makes us laugh has always been a great antidote to the current climate.

So our vote this year goes to the warm and cosy retro feel of the Argos advert, complete with kids circling toys in the Argos catalogue and urging us to ‘go big’ this Christmas.

But it wins our vote mainly for the best campaign strapline – ‘Baubles to last year!’

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