Festive campaigns that build up Christmas


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with every ad you show… maybe it’s because we’re a marketing agency, but the office agrees that it’s not really Christmas until you’ve seen the Coca-Cola and John Lewis Christmas ads. Whether you love them or hate them, some iconic brands definitely help build the Christmas spirit. Here are a few of our perennial favourites, with links to their latest offerings, and a few newcomers that are shaping this year’s festive season – and next year’s marketing trends.


Coca-Cola’s big red truck


There are rumours (which Coca-Cola deny) that Father Christmas wears red and white to match their logo. It’s hard to tell who is correct – while in the UK and North America Santa is most commonly seen in red and white, in other European countries, he may wear blue or green or a bishop’s mitre. Whatever the story, it’s clear that Coca-Cola has an excellent grasp on how to create a festive campaign. They’ve been running Christmas ads in the UK since at least the 1950s. The Coca-Cola truck first appeared in 1995, and has been a staple of their Christmas campaigns ever since.



John Lewis


Their well-deserved reputation for quality extends to their Christmas ads. Production values – and production costs – are sky high. However, the job isn’t without pitfalls for whichever marketing agency they select as the ads are often linked to complaints (including ‘ruining’ certain songs with their covers) and occasional controversy. This year’s ‘Moz the Monster’ campaign, for example, has been accused of plagiarism.




This year’s ad isn’t, in itself, a standout offering. However, the way the brand is positioning both itself and its marketing strategy is worthy of note. The cost of the advert has been released, and is just £65,000, inviting comparisons with John Lewis’s £7 million plus spend. Marketing agencies from Portsmouth to Aberdeen will be reminded that sometimes being the cheapest option is, in itself, newsworthy, and taking note of this contribution to Britain’s growing frugal and anti-consumerist Christmas backlashes.


Supermarket showdown


Christmas is huge for the supermarkets as these one-stop-shops see a boom in everything from veg to ready meals, toys to tinsel, books to booze and their grab for the largest portion of the pudding always includes a festive advert or three. This year, Tesco have already gotten complaints about their ad, which features, among others, a Muslim family celebrating Christmas. The brand is under fire from racists claiming this ‘erases’ Christmas while a few Muslims have pointed out the shop isn’t actually selling Halal turkeys this year, so it’s all a little ironic. Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose have escaped this furore with the worst popular criticism being that they are ‘annoying’.


Charity appeals


The season of giving is certainly an excellent time to thing of others, particularly those who struggle at this time of year. Age UK’s offering stands out this year, reminding us all that elderly people can be left lonely all year, as well as being particularly affected by the seasonal shutdown. Big charities regularly launch glossy TV adverts, prompting the usual question as to whether they should be spending money on marketing agencies rather than their own cause. Charities face the same tough economic balancing act between attracting new customers (both donations and those in need) and reining in ad spend, so we won’t comment except to say that if any Portsmouth-area charities are looking for a marketing agency, we offer especially competitive rates to good causes.


Characters you know


Is it great or terrible when well-loved characters turn up in Christmas ads? Whether you think it’s sweet or a sell-out, this year’s animated stars include Paddington (in the M&S ad) and Billy and the Snowman from the classic Christmas movie The Snowman (Barbour).

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