Who did it best? The best Christmas marketing campaigns of 2018

By December 7, 2018Blog

The annual rivalry of the best Christmas marketing campaigns is well and truly under way and with the competition to steal hearts and evoke emotions being bigger than ever, brands have took it up a level in an attempt to become the UK’s favourite of the year.

From festive emails, social media posts, viral videos and not forgetting the notable TV ads, it may seem like brands have gone crazy for Christmas, but with tougher competition than ever, some brands have pulled out all the stops, showing us how it’s done.

To get us in the Christmas spirit we’ve rounded up our favourite Christmassy campaigns of the year..

John Lewis – The Boy and The Piano

John Lewis is renowned for its touching ads and this year it certainly didn’t disappoint. The advert represents a tribute to Elton John as it takes a look back through his life and reflects on the key moments in his rise to fame before eventually showing the source of his talents – a gift of a piano given to him for Christmas.

John Lewis announced the story behind the advert saying : “The story begins in present day and works backwards chronologically through Elton’s life, right until the moment he received the special gift of his grandmother’s piano that changed his life forever, because some gifts are more than just a gift.”

The advert has received quite a mixed reaction since its release but I think it’s up at the top of this year’s Christmas ads as it’s the only advert that left me feeling goose-bumpy and gave me all the feels of nostalgic childhood gifts. Even if you don’t get a slight shiver from the ad, there’s no question that the idea behind it is definitely a heart-warming one.

We’re sure you’ve already seen it but in case you want to watch it again. Here it is:

Iceland – Say Hello to Rang-tan

Iceland went down a different route this year with their ‘Say hello to Rang-tan’ campaign which has become one of the most talked about adverts of the year. The 90 second animated film gripped the public as it exposes the shocking effects that palm oil plantations are having on forests and the orangutans that live in them.

Although the ad was banned from our screens for being ‘too political’ the ad has since gone viral and with the power of social media has reached tons of people worldwide. With nearly 6 million views on YouTube it’s fair to say the discussion and awareness about the palm oil industry that has developed from Iceland’s marketing campaign has made it the most powerful Christmas ad of 2018 and a well worthy competitor.

Since you won’t get a chance to see it on TV here’s the story of Rang-tan:

Phil Beastall – Love is a Gift

This tear-jerking ad may not have been made to promote a brand or product but it certainly comes above many of the big budget ads that I’ve seen this year. Love is a gift was made by a filmmaker and tells the emotional story of a man listening to tapes from his mum on Christmas Day until it becomes clear that the one he’s listening to is the last one she recorded before passing away.

Phil Beastall the film maker shared his video on social media but didn’t expect the viral response it got. Speaking about his film Phil said: “You don’t always need a huge budget, just an impactful narrative that gets the message across. I think there’s a bit of a revolution going on in the advertising industry. People no longer want to be overtly sold something which makes our job as video producers a lot harder because we have to sell indirectly.”

With so many companies releasing big and extravagant marketing campaigns, it’s nice to see something that brings Christmas back down to earth and shows us what’s really important. Maybe John Lewis could learn a thing or two from this…

Just grab the tissues before you watch.

Mcdonald’s – Reindeer Ready

The McDonald’s ‘Reindeer Ready’ Christmas ad is sure to put you in the Christmassy mood. This year the ad has focused around the excitement of Christmas Eve with Santa enjoying a mince pie at every house whilst his reindeer are left with no treats. At the end of the advert McDonald’s comes to the rescue and gives Santa ‘reindeer treats’ of carrot bags for his reindeer.

To tie in with the ad, Mcdonald’s have built up a whole campaign for the country to get #ReindeerReady. Including playful Snapchat lens and filters, reindeer e-books, Christmas giveaways and they’ve even rebranded the carrot bags as reindeer treats to fit with the theme of the campaign which they will be giving out for free on Christmas Eve!

Although Mcdonald’s might have over-sold the message that it sells carrot sticks, it’s safe to say they have won this year for the most festive and imaginative ad.

Sainsbury’s – The Big Night

This year Sainsbury’s have definitely brought the feel-good factor to the Christmas campaigns but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I’m picking this advert as one of my favourites because of the giant plug.

Taking a more traditional turn on the TV ads, Sainsbury’s have brought the fun and excitement of the festive season with a scenario that everyone can relate to and, in an industry, where every brand is trying to find new ways to make ‘the Christmas ad’ Sainsbury’s have captured the perfect upbeat, festive, mood lifting story we all needed.

Twitter – Not A Retail Store

Every Christmas an American Lecturer who owns the Twitter handle @JohnLewis gets mistakenly sent thousands of tweets from customers thinking they’re contacting the department store. This year Twitter have decided to play on the mistaken identity and turned this into a marketing opportunity featuring the story, and it’s genius!

The social media-based ad was perfectly timed being released alongside the John Lewis ad and has brought a bit of humour to Christmas, which I think is something that’s been missed out of this year’s campaigns. Well played, Twitter.

Have we missed your favourite from the list or would you replace one with another?

Leave us a comment below!

About Katie

Whilst studying Fashion Communication and Promotion at The University of Huddersfield, Katie joined the team as a marketing executive. With her passion of social media and all things marketing, she is responsible for promotion and communication of our clients. Katie loves fashion, shopping and pizza.

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