John Lewis

I feel uncomfortable, disloyal even, writing this, as I have always been one of their biggest Christmas advert supporters; but I didn’t really love it this year! Last year was one of my favourites, so perhaps this did not help, but for me, this is a classic example of what works on paper but doesn’t quite hit the right note in reality.

I understand completely the thought processes behind launching on World Kindness Day, and love the idea of creating small kindnesses in a ‘pay it forward’ stylistic approach to the storyline with creative animations to showcase all.  All the messaging behind it for the year 2020 technically works, however, the purpose of a Christmas advert is how does it make you feel and that is mostly created by the magic of a ‘moment’. The crescendo (i.e. where I feel myself welling up and trying not to tip over the edge to tears!) was completely missing. Now, that extreme requirement may not be quite what everyone is looking for in a Christmas advert, but it is what we’ve come to expect from John Lewis. They make us feel. That feeling is essentially what started the wonder and the desire for adopting Christmas adverts as part of our culture. My heart was, unfortunately, not sufficiently warmed to the temperature that I have grown to expect as a toasty treat from this retailer… the brief appearance of that little ‘dare to dream’ hedgehog though is worth a note as a little star in his own right!

Aldi

Aldi have been strong in regards to their overall marketing in general for years now, finding the ability to really cut through the marketplace and position themselves well; they have been pretty impressive. So for me, seeing them bring back their highly popular Christmas character ‘Kevin the Carrot’ made my heart leap with joy, seeing him back again after such a tumultuous year for one and all is in itself a piece of great joy. The familiarity and likability factor attached to Kevin has been capitalised upon with yet another wonderful storyline. Competitive entry here and really pleasing to see!

Lego

I loved this advert; they have really built on the amazing world of our imaginations that sits at the heart of their brand and actual product itself. It provides an opportunity to escape from this year and a truly inspirational message of hope. ‘And I think to myself’ showcases their product perfectly for all those stuck playing inside and needing escapism in its own right, whilst providing positivity for what the world looks like on the other side and how we can rebuild it together. Simply joyous and very well received whilst remembering their core messaging and objectives.

Disney Plus

This is, quite simply put, a lesson served in how with only using existing content, you can create something brand new and magical. Ok, I’ll grant you that the existing content in this case just happens to be decades worth of amazing Disney movie footage, but even so, what a wonderful edit it is! A new story created utilising their well-known beloved characters and scenes, both the use of the soundtrack and the content used is balanced so beautifully to make you feel nostalgic and hopeful at the same time. In short, what Disney does better than any other brand. With a respectful, emotional nod to the loss of the amazing Chadwick Boseman at its arc – what a wonderful Christmas advert indeed!

Sainsbury’s

Unusually, they have opted for a ‘series of videos as adverts’ again instead of a one moment ‘wow’ factor build; it was, as with a fair few of them this year, ‘ok’. I feel a bit like Bridget Jones; leaving on the immortal line ‘I’m looking for something much more extraordinary than that’ in my Christmas adverts. It played still on the submissions of people’s own footage or adverts made virtually on zoom from earlier in the year – and to be honest, that was then and now it has lost it’s appeal for me as a format. It’s hard not to recall the monumental effort of WW1 Christmas day ‘reprieve’ from a few years back, but I struggle with how you can go from that to these. Very disappointed as obviously this company has brought us many a classic, from Mog to the kid as a plug (used for every conceivable meme for the month to follow!) but again… they were ‘ok’. Is there anything worse than that as commentary for Christmas time?

Coca-Cola

Well, it was shot by Oscar winning director Taika Waititi…and boy, can’t you just tell?! In terms of cinematic look and feel, this is ‘how to tell a story’ – there is no competition.

It is beautiful, it’s heart-warming – and I blubbed like a baby…(sssh!!)

The messaging is not product based at all, it’s focus is all about the lengths a parent will go to for their child and that all a child wants for Christmas is their parent’s presence and love. It’s simplistic in it’s purest form of message and if we went on the criteria of Christmas adverts giving you the ‘feels’ then this delivers to the very highest order.

This is my star choice this year: I’m so impressed with Coca Cola’s track history on Christmas adverts. We all know that they hold the crown; when they go to town, they really go to town and we know that the holidays are coming! Always simple, always sustainable, and always enduring of the test of time. They produce instant classics – which inherently sits with their product itself, the classic drink of a classic coke. Around for the ages and for the foreseeable future. Stepping back ‘into the ring’ I think is always harder after such high accolade successes to see if they can still compete and raise the bar from their iconic Coca Cola Christmas truck. But they can, they did, and they can most definitely still win. My Christmas advert champions for 2020 – well done, Coca Cola! Thanks for letting us all ‘taste the feeling’.