Brands with the best and worst Christmas ads for 2013

Best worst Christmas ads

It’s ‘that’ time of year again with many brands continuing to shove the old clichés of Christmas and plenty of price and product down our throats. However, it’s great that some brands are making a real effect to find interesting ways to truly emotionally connect with their audiences and ensure they are top of mind during the festive season.

Here’s my selection of some of the good, the bad and a couple of classic Christmas TV ads.


John Lewis – The story of the Bear and the Hare; give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget

John Lewis never fails to disappoint and this year is no exception. Another epic production, this is most shared Christmas ad on YouTube with more than four million views in the first four days. Mix this with an integrated and social campaign with the hashtag #bearandhare and some clever product merchandising and John Lewis is once again the leader of the pack for kids and parents alike.

Woolworths – The prawn whisperer; where every fresh Christmas begins

Woolies manage to find a new twist on ‘we do Christmas differently down under’ and finds another way to remind us they are the fresh food people, especially for prawns.

Bonds – Put a little love into Christmas

Iconic Aussie brand, Bonds, once again reminds us that is still OK to give jocks this Christmas or at least show them off anyway.

Boots – Let’s feel good

Featuring the classic eighties tune from Bronksi Beat, ‘Small Town Boy’, Boots shows us that everyone can surprise us. I love the fact that it really connects with the brand’s audience and understands that it is the thought that counts.

Tesco – Forever young

For those of us who are feeling a bit of a Scrooge, this one is such to remind us all why we once loved Christmas. Big points here to Tescos for avoiding the temptation to crap heaps of product and instead tap into a sentiment that will surely resonate with their ‘every little helps’ loyalists.

M&S – Believe in magic and sparkle

Britain’s M&S have gone all out this year with a fairytale inspired 150-second ad that’s bursting with celebrities including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, David Gandy and Helena Bonham-Carter. Beautifully shot and makes the most of social media with links to the making of and interviews with Rosie, David and Helena.



Debenhams – wishes made fabulous

Unfortunately they’re not selling cheese – otherwise it would be perfect. Debenhams’ effort for 2013 just feels like it is trying too hard. Fabulous it is not.

David Jones – Christmas gifts that WOW!

Aussie department store David Jones sticks to an old formula of cramming product in and hoping that it will appeal to as many people as possible. The problem with this is that nothing here is really unique to David Jones and it is probably the most expensive place to buy it. Worse still, people have picked up that it feels like a rip off of a Target USA ad for their Neiman Marcus partnership.

Aldi – The perfect Aussie Christmas

Aldi attempts to show a perfect Aussie Christmas and comes up with Santa surfing with hams. No, this doesn’t connect with most Aussies. It just feels like a badly idea even poorly executed.



2011: John Lewis – For gifts you can’t wait to give

With more than five million views, this is the one that has set the benchmark for most retailers and even John Lewis are struggling to top this (although this year, they’ve come pretty close). If you are parent, it’s hard not to get a bit watery in the eyes after watching this!

2009: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without your M&S

With a bit of celebrity overload, M&S’s 2009 ad still gets people talking. Featuring Joanna Lumley, Twiggy, Stephen Fry and even Wallace & Gromit. It also showcased plenty of product including jumpers, mince pies and little black dresses but it was the tongue in cheek approach capped off with Noemie Lenoir, the M&S lingerie model prancing around that really made it.

1978: Woolworths, the one that started it all

How times have changed. Woolworths used to be one of the biggest brands in the UK. They are credited with pioneering the Chrissie ad extravaganza with the likes of Kenny Everett, Tim Brooke-Taylor (in fact all the Goodies), Derek Nimmo and Leslie Crowther. Really corny but fun to look back on what our parents had on their list – small tellies were actually cool in those days although I’m not sure Granny could see much on that one. The ad also features Old Spice aftershave, hi-fidelity turntables, Hoover irons and Polaroid cameras – amazingly some of these are actually cool again today.

Have I missed any? Feel free to share your favourite Christmas ads or views in the comments below.

If you want some tips on how you can better connect with your audience this Christmas and beyond, I’m always happy to chat.

Michael Hughes
Strategy Director and Partner, Truly Deeply.




  1. A great summary Michael – thanks for posting. I have to say that – both as a consumer and a marketer – I thought this year’s John Lewis was absolutely spot on. I have two young kids and this slotted in immediately and precisely with their idea of what Christmas magic means.

    Can I also add that I often visit the Truly Deeply blog – you guys publish some really good content. Hats off to you!


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