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The 10 Best Christmas Advertising Campaigns of 2021

Now that December is here, we have been blessed with an amazing array of big brand advertising campaigns.

 After the cancellation of Christmas last year, big brands all opted for animation and stop-motion for their Christmas campaigns due to the difficulties of filming during a pandemic. This year’s selection is a lot more varied, many brands still opting for emotive animation, while others have gone for a live-action approach. All of these campaigns however have welcomed new loveable characters and impactful narratives to our TV screens, while also continuing to nod to global events and the importance of diversity. 

 With Christmas just around the corner, here’s 10 Christmas advertising campaigns that have caught our eye.

 

1. Barbour 

    Barbour’s campaign focuses on an animation of the adored British icon, Paddington Bear, in the style of original illustrator Peggy Fortnum. With the aim of invoking a sense of nostalgia and happiness in its viewers, this advert tells the story of Paddington’s predicament in finding Mr Brown a last-minute Christmas gift. He eventually decides to re-wax one of Mr Browns’ well-loved Barbour jackets, creating a mess in the process in true Paddington style.

    With Barbour celebrating 100 years of their rewaxing service, this campaign tugs on the heartstrings of its viewers while also reminding its consumers that Barbour jackets are a long term investment.

    2. Aldi

    Aldi’s Christmas campaign will see them donating 1.8 million meals to families in need across the UK during the festive period. Their take on Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ follows Christmas- loathing Ebanana Scrooge as he is reminded of the fun of the festive season by beloved character, Kevin the Carrot. Similarly to Dickens’ original story, Ebanana Scrooge gradually starts to embrace Christmas, enjoying the festivities as this pun-filled festive story comes to a close.

     Through the years, Aldi has excelled when it comes to making popular animated food- inspired characters – a strange but respectable feat. This advert however contains their biggest selection yet, including Marcus Radishford, voiced by England footballer Marcus Rashford himself, as well as a sad-looking Cuthbert the Caterpillar being arrested in the background.

    This charming tale links with Aldi’s generous donation to create a light-hearted promotion of goodwill.

    3. JD Sports

    JD Sports celebrated Christmas this year with a campaign titled ‘King of the Streets’. Featuring an assortment of popular names from the world of sport, music, and entertainment, JD’s focus this year is on youth culture, as well as reinforcing their high street dominance as the ‘King of Trainers’. 

    Their TV ad titled ‘JD Street’ follows a young man as he makes his way down a JD Christmas styled celebrity-filled high street. From YouTuber and rapper, KSI, to footballer, Jude Bellingham, the young man meets an extensive list of big names, all wearing JD Sports branded clothing. An interactive version of the ad is also available where consumers can browse and buy their favourite items shown within the two-minute spot. 

    A mockumentary has also been launched on JD’s social channels which takes viewers behind the curtain of ‘JD Street’ and into the dog groomers named ‘Jama & Dapaah: King of Trims’. Even a mobile game has been created, allowing players to collect points and potentially win prizes from JD Sports. 

    With its strong commitment to elevate youth culture, this modern Christmas campaign encourages a larger scale of the younger community to not only shop on their online store, but to also support their high street stores.

    4. McDonalds

    This year Maccies have gone for a campaign that focuses on their ability to bring families together this Christmas after a difficult few years. 

    The TV advert introduces young child Matilda as she starts feeding her imaginary friend Iggy some McDonalds reindeer treats (carrot sticks). We see their relationship progress as Iggy helps Matilda come out of her shell and partake in some fun Christmas activities with her family. However, like most Christmas ads, things start to get emotional as Matilda gradually starts to grow up; her love for Christmas, and eventually Iggy, starting to fade. 

    Far in the future, a young boy feeding his imaginary friend reindeer treats reminds Matilda of the fun she used to have with Iggy, running home and embracing her old friend once more as a result. This feel-good campaign portrays the overall message that there is no age-limit on imagination, and that Christmas is a time for memories and appreciation. 

    What’s more, Maccies have also announced that 10p from every download of the ads backing track ‘Time After Time’ will be donated to the food charity FoodShare, reinforcing the spirit of giving this Christmas.

    5. Disney

    It’s no surprise that Disney has focused on a relatable and emotional animation this year for their campaign, ‘From Our Family To Yours’. 

    In support of Make-A-Wish, this year’s advert focuses on stepdad, Mike, as he tries his best to build a relationship with his new family. The narrative progresses as Mike gradually becomes closer with his partner’s children. Although some Christmas traditions do start to go wrong, the family ultimately gets brought back together thanks to a magic storybook filled with Disney and Pixar stories (and a very impressive gingerbread house). These stories start to come to life as the family gets closer. 

    Similarly to McDonald’s campaign, this festive campaign focuses on Disney’s ability to bring families together, using Gregory Porter’s song ‘Love Runs Deeper’ to allow the viewers to fully understand Mike’s perspective in this storyline.

    6. Sports Direct

    Sports Direct’s Christmas campaign this year was called ‘Go All Out’, and with the total cost of the campaign racking up to £6 million, it’s not hard to see why. 

    Featuring big sports names such as Jack Grealish, Jordan Pickford, and recent US Open tennis champion Emma Raducanu, Sports Direct’s latest Christmas advert has really pulled out all the stops to try and motivate viewers. The main aim of this campaign is to encourage Brits to put fitness first this Christmas, while of course wearing Sports Direct products in the process. 

    This fast-paced advert sees these sporting icons, as well as comedians such as Big Narstie, making the most of the snow, emphasising the idea that no matter who you are, you can choose to get off the sofa this Christmas and stay active.

    In the spirit of lying on the sofa this Christmas, you can also grab your phone and try out Sports Direct’s newest TikTok feature titled ‘Nartsie’s Naughty List’, allowing users to prove whether they have been naughty, ‘narstie’, or nice this year.

    7. M&S

    Marks and Spencer really went ham this year by bringing their beloved Percy Pig to life with the power of animation. 

    In their Christmas advert, Tom Holland voices the much loved pig brought to life by Dawn French’s fairy as she drops her magic wand on a present wrapped with Percy Pig wrapping paper. This advert sees an excitable Percy Pig rushing around an M&S store marvelling at all the Christmas food available. Although containing very obvious product advertising, this campaign effectively and simply showcases the best food available at M&S this year, while also creating charming characters with the help of some very recognisable voices. 

    This wasn’t the only ad M&S produced this year however, as a second focused on their clothing and gift selection. ‘Marshmallow World’ by Darlene Love has been used in this ad, as we see a woman dancing around a winter wonderland surrounded by trees, presents and of course M&S’s new clothing range.

    8. John Lewis

    John Lewis have always been the masterminds of Christmas campaigns, creating ads that are always filled with emotive narratives and charming characters. Brits have been waiting eagerly this year for their fix of John Lewis Christmas joy and the brand hasn’t disappointed. 

    Their out-of-this-world campaign tells the story of a crashed UFO discovered by a curious boy called Nathan. As an alien called Skye appears from the crash site, the two meet and gradually form a friendship. Over time, Nathan helps her experience the wonders of Christmas for the first time, a memory that John Lewis is trying to remind viewers of here.

    As Skye leaves earth to reunite with her family, the emotional goodbye between her and Nathan emphasises the message that Christmas is all about connecting with friends and family, and that experiencing Christmas for the first time really is an amazing gift. 

    9. Tesco

    Tesco’s Christmas campaign titled ‘This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us’ has received a lot of attention this year, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Their campaign took a light-hearted take on the COVID pandemic, encouraging people to have a joyful, but safe Christmas. Set to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, the advert jokes about the uncertainty regarding the recent lockdowns and travel bans, as well as the introduction of the COVID vaccination pass. 

    This is where the reception turned sour however, as a warning is broadcasted that Santa could be quarantined, the following scene showing him presenting his Covid pass at border control. This particular scene sparked over 3000 complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) making it the most complained advert of the year. 

    The many complaints accused Tesco of politicising their brand, and celebrating discrimination and segregation, many sharing the hashtag #boycottTesco to encourage shoppers to never shop at Tesco again. Either way, this campaign attracted the attention it needed – and it’s safe to say that Tesco won’t mind this extra attention too much.

    10. Lidl

    Lidl’s futuristic take on Christmas this year has focused on the well-needed message of looking forward, instead of back. With the multiple representations of their traditional Christmas food throughout the advert, from present day, to far in the future, they are hitting home with their promise that they will ALWAYS be ‘big on quality’ and ‘Lidl on price’, even when we’re carving turkeys with lasers in decades to come.

    The campaign creates a utopian portrayal of the future, featuring a device that allows dogs to speak, the normality of living on the moon, and the convenience of immortality. Each time shift contains the same characters and script, emphasisng that no matter how much technology develops, Lidl will always keep things simple with their high quality products and reasonable prices. 

    The narrative of this campaign allows Lidl to showcase their Christmas products, including their new 2021 Lidl jumper, without seeming too repetitive. They also do a great job of teleporting a breath of fresh air to viewers by focusing on the future, not on present day worries.

    There you have it! Ten of our favourite Christmas advertising campaigns of this year. Let us know what you think, and what your favourite 2021 Christmas Campaigns were!

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