Is it that time? Yeah, you better believe it is!
I LOVE Christmas adverts, and seasonal marketing is perhaps my favourite of all. From the iconic Coca-Cola truck, to the abundance of wonderful ads that bless our TV screens every year – I just adore it all. Festive advertising really is a tough one to nail, yet every year countless brands do a spectacular job of it. Right down to the timings, these top 5 Christmas ads of 2018 border perfection in every sense of the word. And best believe I could name you more than 5, too (but I won’t keep you here all night…)
The art of a Christmas advertisement
Advertising isn’t easy and not least during the festive period. It requires the utmost creativity along with a good know-how of your target demographic amid many other skills. Basically – if you’re working in advertising, you gotta’ be a pro. And as if all that in itself isn’t difficult enough, then – during the Christmas period – you have to battle with countless other brands, including your top competitors, in order to make a lasting impression. And when there are tens of thousands of ads being shown during the winter months, it’s hard bloody work.
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Your advert has to be creative and it has to be like nothing ever seen before, what more it has to tie in with your brand and your USP, beat your competitors and enforce a lasting impression – so it’s not easy pickings. Nevertheless, though, I’m always amazed at how brands nail it year upon year, seemingly never running out of ideas nor creative talent, and every year creating something truly memorable. All the while, of course, sticking to that festive theme, which can’t always be got right. You want to find the right balance between obvious and cliche, how do you say ‘I’m a Christmas ad’ without saying ‘look everybody! I’m a Christmas ad’. Well, these brands will show you exactly how – and I think we can all learn a little from them, which of course I’ll explain below.
My top 5 Christmas ads of 2018
It’s not been easy to pick 5, I’m telling you. And, before I start let me just tell you that if Phil Bestall‘s heartbreaking but entirely powerful home video would’ve represented a brand, it would’ve been number one on this list. And I think most companies would happily accept that too, as with just a £50 budget Bestall has illustrated how creative, imaginative and downright extraordinary those working in the advertising industry are. This man deserves recognition beyond ends, and I’m so glad that he got exactly that.
Anyway, back to the brands. Here are my top 5 Christmas ads of 2018…
Anybody who knows me, knows that of course, this ad would go straight to the top of my list. If for nothing else than #PlugBoy – this ad is absolutely iconic.
‘The Big Night’ has slight nativity-esque vibes, which is one of my favourite Christmas movies of all time, so perhaps I’m a little biased. But let me tell you why this ad inarguably deserves its place at #1. It’s sweet and it’s relatable, which is something that not all brands manage to crack. With kids and parents that mirror any one of us, it’s a feel-good 2-minutes that gives you something you know you can experience at home too. And not only this, but the little boy dressed as the plug that’s become a bit of a star-of-the-show was a brilliant move by Sainsbury’s advertising team. It’s simple, yet funny. And has gathered a great deal of traction in the press on its own because of this. (Cause hey, it’s always helpful when your campaigns do their own PR work right?)
Plus, it’s not only me who’d have it as number 1. The Retail Gazette has ranked ‘The Big Night’ as the UK’s top Christmas advert this year, and quite rightly so.
Coming second on my list of best Christmas ads of 2018 is no other than Twitter UK’s ‘#NotARetailStore’ ad. I wrote about this one last month, as soon as it came out really, as I thought it was absolutely brilliant and I still stand by that.
Headed up by The Romans (PR), who absolutely inspire me, this ad was every bit as creative as a successful Christmas campaign needs to be. It was simple yet effective, and above all – it was funny. Those are the three key ingredients really to a triumphant ad – they’re what makes it memorable, and this one is certainly memorable indeed.
Setting out to promote its very self, the Twitter UK ad saw an affluence of tweets and Twitter related content fill its advertisement, and then of course was spread to the world on the platform too. It’s a talent to tie in successful product placement alongside a strong topical theme in advertising, but this brand nailed it and that’s what places them at the forefront of all other Christmas ads this year. So good work guys.
Though it was banned, Iceland’s ‘Rang-Tan’ advert still made the rounds pretty much everywhere but the TV. I’d say arguably, but no, it definitely got more traction than it ever would have if it’d just been quietly published too – which makes it all the more great.
Raising an incredibly serious and very real issue, Iceland’s ad undoubtedly deserves its place here. And what more, it’s actually pushed for change which is exactly what it set out to do – the only thing better than a campaign with a purpose is a campaign with a purpose that works. And that’s exactly what’s happened here. Though not strictly Christmas themed, I’ll definitely let it slide for the overall message and the fearlessness of Iceland who, despite restrictions, still worked hard to make sure that it made it out there for the world to see.
Being unique is one thing, but repeating that year on year so it becomes your USP of sorts is what makes for a truly great longstanding marketing campaign. Aldi examples exactly that. ‘Kevin the Carrot’ returned again for yet another year this November, and the reactions to the advert show that he’s still as popular not then ever, if not more.
Rivalled with similar make-believe foodstuff opponent, this year’s ad starts out dark but of course, takes a turn for the better with a whimsical and funny theme throughout and a much anticipated happy ending. It’s these kinds of ads, the ones that tell a story, which are really effective and that are memorable for years to come.
And if you need further proof that this ad is iconic in its every right, then you need look no further than the headlines a few weeks back. When Aldi, as part of their weekly deals, sold life-sized Kevin the Carrots for a limited time only. Which of course saw shoppers queueing for hours, as early as 5am, and then engaging in actual fist fights in a bid to secure one of these plush toys. If it sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is – but that’s the potential effects that seasonal marketing can have on the public if it’s done right. And Aldi, you’ve done it very, very right.
And yes, I mean John Lewis & Partners this time. Now when this ad first surfaced, I wasn’t sold. I thought previous years’ attempts were much better, and I wasn’t really getting the point nor the message through. However, on reflection, it is a good advert, and it does say ‘Christmas’ to me. (Perhaps it doesn’t ‘shout’ it this year, but that’s okay).
John Lewis’ ‘Elton Christmas’ ad, though perhaps not appealing to everyone, can certainly resonate with their luxury demographic. I think the problematic thing with the campaign is that not everybody can afford to buy a piano for their kids this Christmas, and when previous years have seen the likes of trampolining animals, monsters under the bed and men on the moon, this one was just a little different.
Nevertheless, the John Lewis ads are still the pinnacle of Xmas to me. And therefore, for that reason, along with the genuinely touching timeline story, John Lewis has secured a place in my top Christmas ads of 2018 for another year.
Agree or disagree? What’re your Christmas favourites this year? Let me know in the comments below.
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