Christmas Gifts

Christmas Adverts of 2021 – The Highs and Lows

Each year, around this time, the Elephants take an hour out of their busy day to take a look at the year’s crop of Christmas adverts.  Inevitably, we end up sharing the highs and lows and ranking the harvest.

We’ve seen a focus on connecting and get togethers, making up for last Christmas but also some fun, bringing to life of much-loved characters in this year’s Christmas adverts. Some were more successful than others at tugging our heartstrings at the end of a long year. So, what were the favourites amongst The Herd this year?

Bob – Managing Director

Aldi wins the most fun and clever:  genius story-telling full of details that I know I will end up talking about in the pub, and maybe even over the Christmas table… Ebanana Scrooge, a hidden dig at M&S as police lead away the Cuthbert, a cameo by Marcus Radishford, and not to forget Kevin…  

Of course, this year there is also much talk of young aliens… and that’s were that one stops I’m afraid.  

But my heartstrings were most pulled by a brand that I feel somewhat loathed to say too much about. I love the high street, and fewer brands have done more to bring that institution to an end. I don’t love paying tax, but I do understand it’s important, and fewer brands have done more to bring that institution to an end too.  But, in true Christmas spirit – I must let bygones be bygones…  I was really moved by the neighbours, the glances and the gift of the birdfeeder.  The tears in my eyes were flooding like the longest river in South America.  The 2 minutes 30 second flew by, and I had to watch it again. My final thought was: ‘I bet John Lewis wish that they had thought of that!’

‘Kindness, the Greatest Gift’ by Amazon
Danni – Brand Builder

This year, I think Sainsbury’s have done an excellent Christmas advert which wins by far over the usual winner of John Lewis – in my opinion anyway!

The advert, ‘A Christmas to Savour’, freezes in time, amongst a busy family Christmas meal. The camera work elegantly swoops over the festivities and delicious foods, to the song ‘At Last’ by Etta James – the song referencing the Christmas we have all been waiting for, of course.

The piece celebrates the enjoyment of family and friends coming together again. after a not so joyous lockdown Christmas last year; something we can all relate too.

What Sainsburys have done beautifully, which is unique compared to other Christmas Adverts in the lineup this year, is use cinematography at its finest. The freeze frame means that the film allows for us to focus on every fine detail of the Christmas scene, going inside Christmas crackers and champagne bubbles. This beautiful execution really provides you that ‘wow’ feeling.

The concept is simple. No convoluted narrative or story, no celebrity endorsement, no strange aliens or cartoons. Just a real-looking scene, with something new to view every time you watch it.

‘A Christmas to Savour’ by Sainbury’s
Laura – Brand Building Executive

My favourite Christmas advert is ‘This Christmas, Nothings Stopping Us’ by Tesco.  

The one-and-a-half-minute advert opens with a spin on their strapline ‘need a little help’ then launches into a rollercoaster of festivities. I thought it was very witty to play on the challenges that we’ve all faced in 2021 – with santa having a covid passport, stock shortages featured as a headline on the newspaper, the travel ban. But in every scenario, the challenge is overcome and we finally get our chance to make up for last year.

It taps into the realities of 2021 but putting a positive spin on them so that we acknowledge ‘yes, it’s been a rubbish year, but we know we can make it through anything.’ This Christmas, nothing’s stopping us from celebrating together!

‘Nothing’s Stopping Us’ by Tesco
Katy – Assistant Brand Builder

It’s always hard for me to pick a favourite when it comes to things like this; there’s just too many good ones! But if I really had to choose, then Disney’s The Stepdad is the one that I could re-watch again and again.

Disney, being Disney, basically made an ad that could double as a short film. As the title suggests, the ad follows Mike who moves in with his partner, Nicole and her two children, Max and Ella. Of course, as an advert, it makes many references to Disney movies throughout from Toy Story to Frozen. And it is undoubtedly festive with snowman-building, family gatherings and gingerbread-house making at the forefront.

But it is the subtle details of the story which really impressed me. The development of the relationship between the stepdad and the two children is portrayed so realistically (go watch the ad and focus on the son throughout!) and reminds me that the festive season is much more than the celebration; it’s about the people.

‘The Stepdad’ by Disney

Clearly, the Christmas adverts which turned the effects of Covid on its head had a great impact on our team. But there were a couple there who fell for the focus on human connection (it seems our boss is quite sentimental too!). Which Christmas ad was your favourite? Let us know in the comments or over on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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