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Unwrapping the successes and failures of Christmas ads

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Lara Šteharnik

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4 min


Over the years, Christmas TV ads have become a significant event on their own. These commercials are more than just promotions – they capture audiences, evoke emotions, and influence shopping habits. Retailers invest a lot to create the perfect festive ad, knowing it can connect with viewers and boost sales. 

The main goal of Christmas ads, both in the past and today, is to emotionally connect with the audience. Catchy tunes, heartwarming visuals, and touching stories. Take a look at some examples that nailed the holiday theme!


John Lewis: The Long Wait

This touching commercial narrates the tale of a young boy eagerly anticipating Christmas Day. What makes it truly special is the unexpected twist, adding an element of surprise and delight.

John Lewis: The biginner

The clever storytelling keeps the viewer guessing about the man’s purpose for learning to skate. The ad tells a compelling story that not only conveys a brand message but also triggers a strong emotional response in viewers.

The National Lottery: A Christmas love story: Just imagine

Highlighting the joy of winning and the power of imagination fits the holiday spirit, creating a positive and memorable message that resonates with a wide audience.

ALDI: Kevin the carrot

I like how Aldi’s Christmas campaign is a reimaging of the classic 1990 festive film Home Alone. It uses the film’s narrative to highlight its focus on the importance of family being together to celebrate this year.

However, not everyone achieves that desired emotional connection. Crafting a compelling Christmas ad requires a delicate balance of creativity and understanding the target audience. Some ads may fall short, lacking the authenticity or relatability needed to truly connect with viewers. In the competitive landscape of holiday advertising, standing out and creating a lasting impact remains a challenge for many advertisers. Despite the efforts, success in achieving a meaningful emotional bond with the audience is not guaranteed for every Christmas ad. Here are some examples of Christmas ads that didn’t quite make it

Banned KFC advert

The KFC Christmas commercial faced a ban following parental outrage over its tagline, “what the cluck?” Parents expressed concern, interpreting the phrase as a substitution for an explicit one, and were particularly critical of its use in promoting a £1.99 meal deal. The Advertising Standards Authority upheld the complaints, leading to the removal of the advert. The controversy highlights the delicate balance advertisers must navigate to ensure that their messaging is both attention-grabbing and inoffensive to a wide audience.

Walmart: Yodeling cat

Advertising embraces creativity, but not every unique idea suits the assigned brief. This ad features a cat with a unique face yodeling. However, while the uniqueness of the idea is memorable, it may be unconventional to the point where its connection to the product might be unclear. Only a small ornament appears briefly at the 47-second mark.

Argos Christmas Advert 2023

In the Argos commercial, a creepy doll named Connie comes to life and dances on a table with Argos products. A toy dinosaur records it all with a smartphone. The 30-second ad doesn’t leave a strong impression, and the excessive product placement doesn’t fit the festive ad spirit. Overall, the commercial is seen as odd and lacks the usual warmth of holiday advertisements.

In conclusion, marketers need to be cautious when creating Christmas campaigns. The examples discussed emphasize the importance of being sensitive and aware of the holiday context. Striking a balance between creativity and appropriateness, understanding cultural nuances, and avoiding controversy are key considerations. A successful Christmas campaign requires thoughtful planning and a deep understanding of the target audience to ensure it captures attention positively and leaves a lasting impression during the holiday season.

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Lara Šteharnik

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