Christmas adverts graced our screens a few weeks ago and as a team, we’ve come up with what we think are the elements that make a Christmas TV advert go from good to great.

The Story

We think the best Christmas adverts are the ones that take you on some sort of journey, that help you suspend your disbelief and enter the magic and get that warm, fuzzy feeling. Some of our team loved Sky Movies Christmas advert for that reason – you can get lost in it. Often the best Christmas adverts, we thought, were ones that were seen through the eyes of children because the magic of Christmas is real to them and that awakens the excitement in us.

The Soundtrack

John Lewis have got this down to a T. Get a popular artist with a distinctive voice to do a soundtrack that is artistic, emotional and supports the story. One brand that shows us what not to do is probably M&S – they used Uptown Funk, which although catchy is so last year!

The References

Christmas adverts are filled with cultural references which, at the very least, remind us of what traditions we might have at Christmas, and when they work well, fill us with positive emotions that we associate with the reference. Sainsbury’s have done that very well this year for Mog lovers – in bringing the cat character back to life, Sainsbury’s get to ride the existing positive vibes that the memory of Mog produces in people. One of our students noted that Asda have been clever to include a dressed up pug in their advert because dressing up pugs seems to be an internet sensation at the moment. We think these cultural references work best when the audiences of the reference and the brand align. M&S made the mistake last year of using a social media meme ‘Magic & Sparkle’ when their audience probably won’t have been aware of what a meme even is!

The Cause

People want a moral of every story whether it’s overcoming differences or a community coming together to make someone’s Christmas special. More and more, brands are being expected to have a social responsibility as well as a corporate one, especially at Christmas. So we think the adverts that aren’t just about the brand are the best, ones that are supporting a charity or cause as well. Sainsbury’s have made it very clear that they’re supporting child literacy with Save The Children, but whether John Lewis have planned a whole PR schedule about loneliness or whether their advert is very timely, loneliness in the elderly is everywhere at the moment, on TV, in medical discoveries, in newspapers making their advert extremely pertinent.


Within our team and among our students, our two favourite adverts this year are John Lewis and Sainsbury’s because we think they excel in all of these areas to make a great Christmas TV advert.