The best Christmas adverts of 2014: From Marks and Spencer to John Lewis

Video: The retail battle lines have been drawn as the Christmas commercials seek to pull on our heart and purse strings

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No one is quite sure when Christmas adverts became such "big news". Nevertheless, they are now just another part of the festivities along side staples such as turkey and Christmas shop displays in September.

David Cameron and George Osborne once said they wanted to see "fair capitalism" of the John Lewis co-op sort in the nation's businesses. Well, at least in the advertising world, the other brands are always trying to follow in the footsteps of the department store chain.

John Lewis' Christmas advert showed a cute little boy enjoying time with his best friend, a CGI-penguin called Monty. However, despite the evident bromance between the pair, Monty longs for a partner. Thus, thoughtful cute child gets Monty a playmate for Christmas, presumably making him the third-wheel come Boxing Day.

Serge Vaezi, strategy director of Freuds, told London Live that "John Lewis, as last year, is taking most of the accolades. I mean, it's an amazing marketing campaign in its entirety and it's not just the TV commercial. If you look behind the scenes, there's a lot more going on as well, there's going to be an in-store experience, there's apps to download, games.

"I think they (John Lewis) take the top crown at the moment."

Rival retailer Marks and Spencer launched their own festive campaign last week with two fairies named Magic and Sparkle. Set to Julie London's version of "Fly Me To The Moon", the advert follows the two magical girls as they clock in for work at the Fairy Factory before flying across the country to spread some Christmas spirit with a click of their glitter-filled fingertips.

Harrods is also celebrating Christmas with an animated film for the first time. The ad is titled The Land of Make Believe and in a stop-motion film a troupe of white mice act as Santa’s helpers. The video tells a version of the story behind the world-famous Christmas lights that cover the entire building every year.

Topshop used the trusted Cara Delevingne - who earned £6,500 per day in 2013 - to front its Christmas campaign, while Waitrose (owned by John Lewis) went for another tear-jerker, with their advert showing a young girl struggling to make the perfect gingerbread treats until a helpful Waitrose worker comes to the rescue. 

Clearly, a battle is going on to win the Christmas customer: Freuds' Vaezi said, "If you develop a marketing campaign that is effective in terms of engaging people, entertaining them, then yes, there is a massive pay back for them. You can see the figures for John Lewis: double-digit growth, year-on-year based purely on their Christmas campaign."

And why have Christmas adverts become such a big thing in recent years?

"What we're seeing with the likes of John Lewis, Boots and Marks and Spencers," Vaezi explained, "they're talking about the joy of giving rather than the joy of actually receiving and I think that's actually touched a nerve with people and that's why some of these things are now so successful and people actually look forward to these campaigns."

You can watch Boots' Christmas advert in full above - another example of how retailers are realising that adverts focusing on the "joy of giving" are more successful in capturing the consumer.