Winter Is Coming And So Are The Christmas Ads

There are no winners and losers on Christmas day, except maybe when it comes to share-happy brands. As with “water cooler events” like the World Cup or the Super Bowl, Christmas is heavily-contested marketing ground, with brands teasing their advertising strategies months ahead of the big day.

Though we’re still weeks away from popping the first box on our advent calendar, plenty of brands have started throwing their novelty Santa hats into the ring. And it’s easy to see why. According to Unruly’s Viral Video Chart, two of the twenty most-shared viral ads of all time are Christmas spots, accruing nearly five million shares between them.

The question is: who’s found a gift in their stocking and who’s found coal? Christmas advertising is a delicate art, and John Lewis’ early contender shows the retailer knows exactly what it’s doing.

‘Monty the Penguin’, a saccharine tribute to yuletide, friendship and adorable animals, hits all the festive sweet spots. Devoid of celebrity appearances or unnecessary humour, the spot’s simple, heartwarming arc is relatable to all (even if you never had a pet penguin). Building on the success of last year’s ‘The Bear & The Hare’, the brand brilliantly made a public event out of yesterday’s release, already racking up 123,000 shares.

Though Monty’s quest for love has slightly stolen the limelight, the ad has plenty of promising competitors. Burberry’s ‘From London With Love’ makes an interesting counter-example, with its less overtly festive theme and young star Romeo Beckham pushed front and centre.

While the production is predictably stunning, celebrity appearances have proven surprisingly ineffectual in holiday advertising, with M&S’ star-studded spot only ranking 11th in last year’s top twenty most shared Christmas ads.

Of course, there’s never a lack of adorable kids at this time of year, with Debenhams’ ‘Found It!’ nostalgically recalling ‘Home Alone’, while Halfords’ remind us that nothing beats getting a bike for Christmas.

Which brings us to the adults. The most successful Christmas ads seem to exist as snow globes, perfect little worlds sealed off from the pressures of everyday life. Lidl’sSurprises’ takes a risky strategy by directly referencing its price competitiveness in the spot, somewhat deflating an otherwise jolly scene. Aldi’s pointedly-titled ‘Everyone’s Coming To Us This Christmas’ falls into the same trap, a sour attitude that left Asda’s ‘Snowman’ with fewer than five hundred shares last year.

While these early contenders give a taste of the season’s bounty, rest assured that we’ll be buried under snowdrifts of Christmas adverts for weeks to come. Have we already seen this Christmas’ winning ad? We’ll have to wait and see. Remember: it’s not over ’til the fat bearded man sings.