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Campaign Spotlight: Christmas Special 2018

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ALF’s Christmas Campaign Spotlight is back! Here we’ve rounded up our favourite Christmas ads from various market sectors… and there is no Elton John in sight! Once you’ve taken a look, pick your favourite by casting a vote in our poll, available at the bottom of this page.




From Waitrose’s ‘Too good to wait’ to Aldi’s return of Kevin the Carrot, supermarkets as usual pulled out all the stops with big budget campaigns to impress consumers this festive season. However, for us, Sainsburys’ effort, complete with a 90s soundtrack, cute cast, and epic costumes, was the one which stood out from the rest. ‘The Big Night’, by Wieden & Kennedy, saw 59 school children from across the UK come together to perform a Christmas nativity like no other, and we don’t even care that it was almost a clone of Waitrose’s September Bohemian Rhapsody spot. Favourite moment? That plug and socket combo.




Food brands

Food. It’s always a failsafe Christmas gift, especially when it comes to buying that Secret Santa present for a person you have no idea what to give. Cadbury has used a 60-second ad to remind people of that and shows how its festive range would put a smile on anyone’s face. Created by VCCP, it sees people sneaking around in a (slightly creepy?) Santa mask and planting Dairy Milk bars and boxes of Roses in the paths of their loved ones. For those really committing to the cause, you can even download your own copy of the mask online.




Drink brands

While Coca-Cola and Pepsi battle over who will win over those young, sugar-reducing millennials, Irn Bru is stealing the drink brand show with the much-anticipated return of its The Snowman-themed Christmas ad. First teasing us with a sing-along audio version on Twitter, the Scottish soft drink then rolled out Leith’s 60-second sequel to the parody it first rolled out 12 years ago. The comical effort sees a ginger boy finally retrieve his can of Irn Bru from the greedy flying Snowman, before losing it again to another airborne festive foe.





TK Maxx can take all of our golden coins for the chance to find one of those never-ending Christmas stockings. The endless red and white sock is the star of the retailer’s quirky 90-second TV campaign by Wieden & Kennedy, which highlights its in-store activation offering lucky customers a whole years’ worth of Christmas presents. The ad is the pinnacle of whimsical Christmas magic, seeing the friendly stocking belch up glitter and gifts to its lucky owners before slinking off when its time is up. We didn’t know how it could top last year’s delivery of snow to customers who found a special snow globe in store, but it has.




Fast Food Chains

KFC proved turkey may win at Christmas but chicken reigns supreme year round, and Subway created sauce baubles. But McDonald’s ‘Reindeer Ready’ won the Christmas fast food fight. It’s cleverly rebranded its carrot bags ‘Reindeer Treats’ for the season and launched a 90-second accompanying spot created by Leo Burnett. The ad sees Santa doing his rounds and tucking into various mince pies, while his hardworking reindeers’ stomachs rumble out in the cold. Feeling sorry for the disappointed creatures, Santa pops into McDonald’s and returns with a sack full of treats for his loyal companions. We can see parents being pestered into its restaurants already, and while they’re in there, they may as well pick up a festive burger for themselves!




Department Stores

With House of Fraser off the cards for the time being, the competition of the department stores was left to newly rebranded Debenhams, struggling M&S, and festive favourite John Lewis. It was a tough choice, but we like it when an underdog comes through. After reporting poor half-year results, M&S rose like a phoenix with a pair of Christmas ads, created by Grey, for its food and clothing/homeware division. Its food ad dropped its signature ‘food porn’ for real insight into consumers’ favourite M&S food, helped along by an Ed Sheeran soundtrack. Meanwhile its ‘Must-Haves’ spot, starring Holly Willoughby and a cameo from David Gandy, inserted clothing and home items into familiar festive moments such as impressing the in-laws and endless Christmas parties. With accompanying shoppable Instagram activity, plus the introduction of a Percy Pig emoji (!), M&S’ Christmas campaign might just be its turning point.





TV Channels

Sky rolled out Christmas spots for both its cinema and sport offerings, but the BBC won us over by tugging on our heartstrings with its 2-minute ‘Wonderland’ work. Created in-house, it sees a teenage son struggle to grasp a moment of his busy mother’s attention as she rushes off to work her office job over Christmas. However, her frustration at her computer and his anger at an arcade game join electrical forces, sparking a Christmas miracle that enables them to enjoy an evening of seaside fun together. One of its creatives describes the short film as ‘about that feeling you get when you spend time with someone, how everything else drops away.’ Excuse us while we reach for the Mansize Extra Large tissues. 





Leisure Products

The humble LEGO bricks, once the most exciting thing to receive at Christmas, have probably fallen a bit by the wayside with the influx of phones, pods, pads, and hubs in recent years. However, the brand reminds us of the important creativity factor its products bring in its global Christmas ad. Also created in-house, the 60-second ad, titled ‘This is not a brick’, sees children transported into the realm of their imagination, bringing their unknowing family in tow, to drive space ships, go-karts and police cars whilst encountering monsters, robots and ninjas along the way.





Charity Christmas campaigns either opted for the novelty or hard-hitting approach this year. Save The Children and Dog’s Trust used humour to remind people to wear Christmas jumpers and purchase pets responsibly, while ICRC and The Childhood Trust both used a Santa Claus figure to help highlight the contrast between the privileged and poverty-stricken this December. Our chosen charity creative, though, is AMV BBDO’s St Mungo’s campaign, which shows homeless people sitting on London’s streets dressed in costumes that demonstrate the career paths they could be on if they were given the chance. The jarring spot is set to a version of Christmas TV classic Bugsy Malone’s ‘Give a Little Love’ and cost just £6,000 to produce.





Another brand keeping its Christmas ad budget down for a good cause was Co-op. Its no thrills ‘Christmas is better together’ TV spot, created by Forever Beta, sees a group of friends discussing their Christmas traditions while tucking into Co-op own-brand nibbles. However, the best part is that £19m, which it could put towards a Christmas advertising bonanza, is instead being donated to community groups and charities.



Click here to vote for your favourite Christmas ad of 2018!