The most wonderful time of the year is nearly upon us once more, and along with Starbucks’ cups, the Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour and supermarket shelves lined with advent calendars, festive adverts are a sure-fire sign that Christmas is coming.
They’re some of the most-awaited adverts of the year, with the public desperate to see what their favourite brands have concocted.
It was John Lewis’ 2011 Christmas advert, The Long Wait, which revolutionised the game and set the scene for tear-jerking ads.
And since then we’ve had many memorable campaigns from other brands - Sainsbury’s 2014 advert recreating the First World War Christmas truce had the nation weeping, whereas many people thought German supermarket Edeka’s story of an old man faking his own death to get his family to come together for Christmas went, well, a smidge too far.
Hitting the right tone is a serious business, and launching it at the right time is important too.
All the major Christmas adverts for 2017:
Marks & Spencer
This year M&S has teamed up with the creators of the heartwarming film of the moment, Paddington 2, to create their Christmas campaign.
In the touching ad - which is essentially a mini-film - we see the iconic bear thwarting a burglar and in the process teaching him the true meaning of Christmas.
Mistaking the thief for Father Christmas, Paddington takes him on a journey to deliver the presents he’d stolen.
And when the burglar spots how happy a little girl called Alice is with her present (why she was allowed to open it before Christmas morning we do not know), he realises the error of his ways.
The branding is subtle, and on first watch you’d barely realise it was an advert for M&S. On closer inspection, however, you spot stockings on the fireplace with the initials M and S and a shot of their signature mince pies.
The film was shot over four months using the original set from the film, and actor Ben Whishaw voices Paddington as he does in the films too.
It’s definitely one that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Lidl is this year bucking the trend by releasing a selection of short clips instead of one longer Christmas ad. Each clip focuses on a different character.
So far we’ve had the Cavalier Carver, the Mince Pie Maverick and the Double Dipper. Still to come is a Visiting Vegetarian, a Cheeseboard Champion, a Tipple Technician and a Pudding Perfectionist.
It’s a fun concept that may have viewers tagging their friends on social media, but the advert is clearly just that: an advert.
Claire Farrant, Advertising & Marketing Director at Lidl UK, said: “Our campaign ‘Every Lidl Thing For Christmas’ has been developed to showcase the fantastic breadth of food and drink we have for the UK customer at Lidl.
“Each Christmas tribe is paired with a Lidl product, demonstrating how we are offering everything anybody could want for this Christmas, and always at unbeatable value.”
Possibly not one for the veggies and vegans amongst us, Tesco’s 2017 Christmas ad is all about the turkey. (Not nut roast.)
In chaotic Christmas scenes that will be familiar to families of all kinds, you can’t help but look forward to the big day upon watching the ad.
The pared-back soundtrack of Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone is rather beautiful too.
As a supermarket, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the message of the ad is that food lies at the heart of Christmas, but it does all look incredibly delicious.
Alessandra Bellini, Tesco Chief Customer Officer said:
“This year, our campaign will celebrate the many ways we come together at Christmas, and how food sits at the heart of it all. We want our customers to know that however they choose to do Christmas, and no matter what they need, we can help - Everyone’s Welcome at Tesco.
“As part of our campaign this year, we're delighted to work with our long-term charity partners FareShare and The Trussell Trust to donate £1 for every fresh turkey purchased to help feed people in need this Christmas – it’s another little help for our local communities at an important time of year.”
Kevin the carrot is back, and this time, he’s finding love. Picking up from where last year’s campaign ended, Aldi’s Christmas 2017 advert is set on a luxurious sleeper train (with definite Murder on the Orient Express vibes).
At the end of the Aldi Christmas feast lies Katie, but to get to her Kevin must battle a popping champagne cork, forks and flying peas.
Sure, it’s a pretty stereotypical storyline of a male having to heroically fight his way to win the heart of the female (why couldn’t Katie be the adventurous one?), but with the poetic narration by Jim Broadbent, it’s undeniably a sweet advert.
“I think I just peed myself,” says Kevin, after taking a pea bullet to save Katie. You can’t help but chortle.
Adam Zavalis, Marketing Director at Aldi UK, said: “We launched Kevin last year with the line, ‘heroes are grown, not born’. And Kevin really did grow into our hero. Our customers took him to their hearts and enjoyed watching his escapades in the run up to Christmas.
“We just had to bring him back again this year to help showcase our latest show-stopping festive range. Let’s hope Katie the Carrot loves Kevin as much as we all do.”
The first big brand to launch their Christmas advert this year is Asda, whose 2017 advert offers an insight into their “Imaginarium” - or Christmas workshop.
As we follow a young girl and her grandfather around the factory, viewers are meant to be discovering the secrets behind Asda’s festive ranges.
It’s definitely an ad that focuses on advertising the food products on offer, rather than simply conjuring up positive sentiment towards the brand.
The advert is perfectly fine, but it’s unlikely to leave you welling up, feeling fuzzy inside or desperate to share it on Facebook.
The 60 second ad will launch in the first ad break of X Factor on ITV on Sunday night and according to Asda’s Chief Customer Officer, Andy Murray, the idea came from seeing the reaction of Asda customers when they took part in tasting sessions of Asda’s Christmas range.
Murray explains: “Earlier in the year we held sessions with our customers to get feedback on our Christmas range. As we talked to them about Christmas we could see how much joy and happiness planning their Christmas brought them – we knew we wanted to reflect that in our ad.
“When we saw their reactions to our food – the way it surprised them and made them smile – as well as the incredible pride and attention to detail our product developers had put into creating it, the inspiration for the Imaginarium was born.”
Barbour’s 2017 campaign is a sequel to last year’s ‘Gifts They’ll Always Remember’ ad. Imaginatively titled ‘The Story Continues,’ the video follows Billy, the young boy from the much loved children’s animation The Snowman and The Snowdog, into his adult life.
The Snowman was a big part of many of our Christmases growing up, so it’s likely the ad will cause smiles on many viewers’ faces. Grown-up Billy’s expression of joy when he sees his old friend the Snowman is just how we feel when we think back to our childhood Christmases.
Of course, the fact that the Snowman is given a Barbour jacket as a present reminds you it’s an ad, but it’s touching nonetheless.
You’re probably not going to be moved to tears, but it’s certainly a sweet clip.
Paul Wilkinson, Global Marketing Director, Barbour said: “It has been exciting to work with Snowman Enterprises Ltd to create this beautiful Barbour interpretation of the next chapter for Billy, something that has never been done before.
“Barbour is a brand that evokes fond memories of shared experiences, times and places and we wanted to express this emotion within the film.
“By combining original footage from The Snowman and The Snowdog animation alongside 45 seconds of new footage and introducing family characters, we’ve created a magical film that recreates the nostalgia of childhood, the joy of giving at Christmas and that special feeling of spending time with friends or relatives you may not have seen for a long time.”
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