The countdown to Christmas is officially on and television sets everywhere are warming up for the epic Christmas ad battle. Much to our delight, some retailers are getting into the spirit of things earlier than ever (18 months of turmoil has that effect), making the most of the lead up to the most wonderful time of the year. We stan the eagerness.
Following the global pandemic, kindness was the overwhelming theme from last year’s flurry of heart-warming ads but which retailer will take the crown for the best Christmas ad 2021? Will Kevin the Carrot reprise his role as Aldi’s most-loved character and who will lend their vocals to the John Lewis soundtrack this time around?
Brief your heartstrings and stick your predictions in a sealed envelope folks, here’s a look at all the surprise entries and big budget crimbo campaigns from your favourite brands so far, along with the iconic debuts from the likes of John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Coca Cola, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Disney as they hit our screens.
And now it’s Christmas! The most anticipated moment of winter tv has crash-landed onto our screens, two weeks earlier than usual and naturally, it’s out of this world.
Set to an ambient soundtrack of Together in Electric Dreams reworked by rising star Lola Young, the ad follows a young teenage boy as he befriends an unexpected guest.
Space traveller Skye lands in the woods near the home of 14-year-old Nathan, who shows her how Christmas is done on earth, from eating mince pies to snowball fights, decorating the tree and wearing novelty jumpers. When the time comes for her return to her home planet, Nathan gifts her a light-up jumper, she pecks him on the cheek and off she flies.
The strapline, ‘For A Christmas As Magical As Your First’ reminds viewers of the importance of sharing traditions and enjoying Christmas with their families again after 2020’s last-minute lockdowns left many missing out on the togetherness of the season.
Claire Pointon, Customer Director at John Lewis, said: “There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time and enjoying your favourite festive moments with loved ones.
“After the last 18 months, we wanted our advert to really celebrate this as we look forward to a brighter future.
“We know our customers are excited for this festive season more than ever, as they reconnect with family and friends. Through the story of Skye and Nathan, we celebrate friendship and are reminded of the joy of experiencing Christmas for the first time.”
Were we overcome with emotion and running off to the loo to compose ourselves Edgar the excitable dragon style? Maybe not, but the festive ad carries a sweet and meaningful message nonetheless.
Sainsbury’s: A Christmas to Savour
Etta James. The cinematography. Every tear-jerking-round-the-table Christmas Day moment captured in 60-seconds flat. That’s how it’s done.
This year’s Saino’s ad captures a series of freeze frames as the camera pans around the room to show a Christmas Day mannequin challenge of sorts. From the champagne spray to the gravy bout mid-pour and the family dog begging for dibs on the roast potatoes, it’s a heartwarming reminder that we’ve been waiting a long time for this big family get-together, without the worry of cutting the guest list down to your six favourite relatives.
Apart from the spinny bit under the table that made us want to vom up a sprout a tiny bit, we liked this seasonal offering from the big orange ones. They might have peaked with the plug boy era (truly the definition of iconic content) but this isn’t a bad attempt at rekindling that modern-day Christmas spirit.
Honourable gripe/mention: We can’t help but notice they seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Mog’s slow blinking Christmas Calamity was a whopping short film compared to this. Bring back the bigger portions next time, please. We need more STORY.
Waitrose – You Can Taste When It’s a Waitrose Christmas
Infused with truffle, stupidly succulent turkey and Heston’s mince pies, the Waitrose ad has gone heavy on food for 2021 and we’re not mad.
It’s the first time in two years that Waitrose, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, has gone it alone with their advertising campaign, which explains why the grub is the main character this year. Again, we’re not mad.
Starring Extras actress Ashley Jensen and top chef Heston Blumenthal, the light-hearted ad is really just a 60-minute journey that will leave you feeling kind of festive but mostly fucking starving.
Whilst the close-up food shots can come again, we’re not here for the Carol of the Bells mash-up, it feels a little too sinister for us, like Les Mills trying to cobble together a fun festive workout track for us and failing.
Did it set our souls on fire? No. But did it leave us wanting to run down to the world’s most expensive supermarket for a three grand Christmas pudding complete with candied figs? Yes, yes it did. Consider that a job well done. Take all our money.
What a way for Adele to debut her new song! The 2-minute Amazon ad is set to the goosebump-igniting ballad “Hold On” by Adele – the second glimpse of what to expect on her upcoming album ‘30’.
It tells the story of a young woman anxious about life after lockdown as she attempts to get back to normal, attending university lectures and seeing friends again.
In the next scene, a neighbour heads to the local park to feed the birds and notices the young girl on a bench next to her. After hearing a news update about the rise in anxiety amongst young people on the radio, she realises the young girl is struggling.
Determined to make a difference, she heads home, opens up the app and orders a gift to be delivered to her door.
Upon opening the present, the young girl smiles at the bird feeder and the thoughtfulness of her neighbour. She watches the birds gather on the feeder and glances across at her neighbour as she potters about on her balcony. She then gestures to her heart and mouths ‘thank you’. And just like that, we’re a mess, just like the soundtrack suggests.
Sharing a message about overwhelm and anxiety as we navigate the new normal in the wake of the global pandemic feels as poignant and necessary as ever.
Stripped back, current and unfussy in its approach to Christmas sentiment, it reminds us all that kindness truly is the greatest gift of all. We’re going to put it out there, it’s our favourite ad so far.
Three whole minutes of tear-jerking joy, Boots really pulled it out the bag this year.
The short film has gone for straight up Mary Poppins vibes featuring a magic bag bursting with sentimental gifts and never-ending glee.
Starring Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman as Joy (aka chief gift giver and generous angel to her core), the campaign sees a young woman receiving a gift from her nan alongside a note that says, ‘This is what Christmas feels like.’ Realising that her bag contains a stash of perfume and beauty goods, she sets off to save Christmas, delivering thoughtful prezzies to her friends and family, from a polaroid camera to a woolly hat and even eyelashes for a sorry looking snowman. Honestly, we were doing just fine until the nan part at the end. Hold me.
So that’s what Percy Pig sounds like! The iconic character has been brought to life for the very first time thanks to a little bit of fairy dust and the nation is thrilled about it. Voiced by Marvel’s Tom Holland, Percy Pig can be seen roaming the aisles after hours with the help of his fairy friend, expertly played by national treasure Dawn French. Exploring the delicious treats on offer from triple chocolate panettone to delicate smoked salmon and golden blonde Christmas pudding, this is the best M&S food advert yet and it’s thanks entirely to the Spiderpig crossover we didn’t know we needed.
Elsewhere, their clothing campaign ‘Make the season anything but Ordinary’, staring former Victoria’s Secret model Madisyn Ritland and shot by Autumn de Wilde, showcases all the glitz and glamour of party season with the iconic matching pjs thrown in for good measure.
Very really said Christmas cannot wait by unveiling their festive ad in October and after last year’s last-minute lockdowns and underwhelming festivities, who can ruddy well blame ‘em for starting the celebrations early. Chief Marketing officer Carly O’Brien said that after a pared back Christmas for many in 2020, the retailer wanted to “get into the spirit early and unashamedly embrace the season as soon as the leaves start to fall.”
Titled “It’s the Very Best Excuse” the ad plays on its keen timing with confused Halloween trick or treaters turning up to a house bedecked with Christmas lights and mince pies for treats instead of sweets. Whilst it’s no match for Man on the Moon, we’re all for getting organised and starting early to avoid the hell that is last minute hoo-ha of Christmas shopping.
Keen to spread some festive cheer, Etsy dropped their first ad back in October and we’re here for it.
The online retailer has gifted us with not one but two Christmas ads this year, drawing on the importance of unique and meaningful presents.
“Our Santa” is the first 30-second commercial, which highlights the importance of representation, as a father sees how disheartened his own dad is that Santa Claus is always portrayed as a white man with rosy cheeks, in store, on gift bags and jumpers. When Christmas Day arrives, a young boy reaches under the Christmas tree for his grandpa’s gift a fluffy stocking featuring a Santa Claus that looks just like him. When we say our bottom lip left our body.
The second Etsy advert to air in the UK, “The Tradition” focuses on good ol’ neighbourly kindness as an older woman set to spend Christmas on her own is invited for a spot of wild swimming with the rest of the Sea-Gals. A neighbour named Agnes turns up on her doorstep on Christmas Day bearing a special gift – a personalised dry robe and an invitation to join them in celebrating their longstanding tradition.
Titled “The Stepdad”, this year’s heart-warming short film is a sequel to last year’s instalment and celebrates family togetherness and the power of storytelling.
The sweet story follows Nicole, the granddaughter from 2020, all grown up with two adorable children of her own. Stepdad Mike moves into the family home and bonds with little Max and Ella as they make new festive traditions together and share in the magical storybook gifted to them by their papa.
But chaos ensues when their DIY gingerbread house collapses and the children run off in tears. Mike stays up to reconstruct it and by morning, Max and Ella are happy once more. Not all heroes wear capes.
All proceeds from each download of the soundtrack “Love Runs Deeper” by Grammy award winner, Gregory Porter, will go towards the Make-A-Wish foundation.
It seems futuristic Christmas ads are the way to go for 2021 and Lidl certainly got the memo. Set to the soundtrack of Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, the one minute Lidl ad starts in the present day with a family gathered round the table tucking into a festive feast with all the trimmings, popping the bubbly and carving the turkey.
The second part cuts to the same scene only this time it’s set decades in the future. Some family members have moved to the moon, they’ve got a cutting-edge laser to carve the turkey, levitating plates and in a plot twist, their pet dog can now talk and even ask for a pig in a blanket.
The final scene leaps even further into the future with the same family still enjoying Lidl’s delectable Christmas spread and getting into the intergalactic spirit of the season, featuring a novelty Christmas jumper we can’t help but want.
Lidl marketing director Claire Farrant, says of their festive ad offering, “After a challenging couple of years, the nation wants to look forward, not back, which is why we’ve set our light-hearted ad decades in the future.
“Given our commitment to always be ‘Big on quality, Lidl on price’ this year we wanted our Christmas advert to show that we really do mean always, no matter what the future has in store for us!”
Anyone else over here casually having kittens about Kev the Carrot’s whereabouts?
This year, Aldi are starting a new animated tradition with… Ebanana Scrooge – a beggy banana who really, really wants to meet Santa. It’s giving 2020 with the banana thing, ngl.
Whilst ditching our Kevin the Carrot for Ebanana Scrooge isn’t exactly festive (nor forgivable) we’ll see if they redeem themselves when the full ad hits our screens. There’s hope for Kev’s safe return, yet. For now, here’s the 20 second trailer.
It’s serving big Love Actually vibes. Six seconds in and someone is cutting onions because that little girl with the wand is everything.
School boy Laurie takes to the stage, nervous at first due to a digitally distracted (read: rude) audience who clearly have very little faith in a) this festive comeback concert and b) the power held in the toe of those teal ankle boots. Give ‘em hell kid!
A penny for more of our thoughts: Finding a matching pair of anything in TK Maxx… It really is a Christmas miracle.
Jack Grealish in a white fluffy East 17 coat is the Christmas cameo we were holding out for and Sports Direct delivered. They win. Featuring a stellar cast of sporting legends from Jordan Pickford and Emma Raducanu to Jessica Ennis-Hill and golfer Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston, the one-minute ad captures the essence of what Christmas is all about. Read: snowball fights, fistfuls of Quality Street and family members who refuse to play games with you. Our only grievance: it needed to be longer.