The Cream of the Christmas Campaign Crop from November

Once Halloween and Bonfire Night are out of the way, our attention inevitably turns to Christmas. And the same goes for the retailers. November is the month when the big brands fight it out to win column inches and the hearts of consumers with their heart-warming Christmas campaigns. And this year is no different. Let’s have a look at a few campaigns that have got the media and public talking:

John Lewis

Discussing the John Lewis Christmas TV ad has become as much a festive tradition as decorating the tree and eating brussels sprouts. So in that way, it’s already a winner. But how much you like this year’s offering probably depends on how much you like Elton John.

‘The Boy and the Piano’ illustrates the power of gift-giving and how one particular Christmas present changed the course of Elton’s life. The first scene sees 71-year-old Elton sitting at a piano, playing the first few notes of his famous hit, Your Song. From there, it works backwards through his life, from some of his best-known gigs, to him in the recording studio and finally to him as a young boy receiving a piano from his mother and grandmother for Christmas. It ends with him sitting at the same piano in the present day with the tag line: ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift.’

This is the first time the retailer has partnered with a celebrity for their Christmas ad, but this collaboration is meaningful and poignant, considering national treasure Sir Elton is currently embarking on a farewell tour.

To accompany the ad, customers at the retailer’s flagship Oxford Street store can step into a 2,000 square foot recreation of the set used for the ad, to try on the costumes, listen to recordings from Elton John’s 17-11-70 album and have photos taken at the piano.

This year’s advert is typical of the brand in many ways. There’s a wistful theme tune, heart-warming sentiment, and the central idea is about the power of giving. Although less Christmassy than previous campaigns, this ad hits the nostalgia spot nicely, and has been talked about everywhere, from The Sun to The Drum.


By now, you’ve probably heard about the furore surrounding supermarket brand Iceland’s banned Christmas advert.The tear-jerking spot featured a baby orangutan telling a little girl how his home, the rainforest, had been destroyed by humans harvesting palm oil. It ended with a dedication to ‘the 25 orangutans we lose every day’ and the message that Iceland is removing palm oil from all its product range.

Iceland was planning to launch the commercial as its Christmas ad, but were stopped by advertising industry advisory body Clearcast, who claimed the ad contravened the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising, on the grounds that it’s political. This is because the ad was originally made by environmental campaign group Greenpeace, who are seen as a political organisation.

Despite the ad not being aired, it’s been shared countless times on social media, and has been a roaring success for the supermarket. The outrage across social culminated in an online petition that’s attracted almost 700,000 signatures. The ban also triggered plenty of media coverage, from The Guardian and the BBC to The Daily Mail and The New York Times, and the endorsement of celebrities including James Corden and Bill Bailey.

The ban could be the best Christmas present Iceland has ever received.

Online retailer’s festive ad, titled Elsie’s Gift, is a 30-second magical animation that tells the story of a schoolgirl named Elsie, who dreams of being an astronaut. For Christmas, her parents give her a toy astronaut helmet, which inspires Elsie to pursue her dream. We see her grow up, learning about the universe and space travel, with the helmet always by her side. The end of the animation sees Elsie all grown up and leaving home to study Astrophysics at university, with the space helmet taking pride of place in her car.

It then fast forwards to some years later, and filled with pride, Elsie’s aged parents look up at the sky, knowing that their daughter is living out her dream. Elsie, now a real-life astronaut in space, looks down on earth and spies Santa and his reindeer flying through the skies to deliver gifts across the planet on Christmas Eve.

The heart-warming ad has been designed to inspire children to reach for the stars and dream big. And it’s got the attention of the press for that very reason.  As a nice tie-in with the ad, customers can buy Elsie’s pyjamas, which have been exclusively produced by Very for the campaign. They’re currently a number one best-seller. The Mini V by Very Space Sequin Pyjama set is on sale from £7.

Are you inspired to get festive? 

You may not have a John Lewis sized budget to play with, but if your Christmas campaign is on-brand, emotive and original, there’s no reason why you can’t strike a chord with consumers and pull at the heart strings of the national press too. If you’re in need of some last minute advice or inspiration, or you want to start thinking about next year, give me a call.

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