Anna Carpen, creative director at 18 Feet & Rising charts her favourite Christmas ads of all time
Anna Carpen, creative director at 18 Feet & Rising charts her favourite Christmas ads of all time
A view from Anna Carpen

Are these the best retro Christmas ads of all time?

From Yellow Pages to Campbell's Soup, some of the best Christmas ads are from a bygone era, according to Anna Carpen, creative director at 18 Feet & Rising who charts her top five Christmas ads of all time.

The hardest thing about working on a Christmas ad isn’t wading through the numerous clichés; nor is it dusting off your old copy of NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL CHRISTMAS for musical inspiration and finding that all of the tracks have been used to sell half-price sofas.

No, the hardest thing is working on a Christmas brief in the height of summer; finding yourself conjuring up festive cheer inside a boardroom of people wearing summer dresses. It’s fair to say that sandals, sunglasses and Solero’s don’t scream ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…’

Despite the boiling hot temperatures of summers gone by, these talented folk all managed to submerge themselves in yuletide spirit and carried pure emotion, humour and insight from brief to broadcast.  

First up, this spot for DirecTV illustrates how Christmas brings out the more pleasant side of people; even if they are as evil as Darth Vader, Chucky and Hannibal. 

Seeing such hardened criminals frolic in the meadows to the sweet tones of Silent Night would put a smile on any Scrooges face at Christmas. 

Re-winding to 1992 BG (Before Google). You won’t have one now, but back then this brand was part of the household furniture.

It’s cute, not too schmaltzy and most importantly, the brand is the hero. The transition to that memorable piano tune at the end dials up the emotion effortlessly.

Around the same time, Campbell’s soup released a classic and skilful ad with one of my favourite endlines of all time ‘mmm mmm better!’

True to life body language from the snowman mixed with some clever sound design invokes up a deeply familiar scene in our minds, but one that’s presented in a fun and surprising way.

Another Christmas icon that one brand gave a twist to is the Elf. OfficeMax have been running the Elf Yourself campaign for a number of years now, it was probably the first digital product I used that took my photo and turned it into something entertaining. And I remember thinking it was the funniest thing ever.

Elf yourself is still popular today, that shows what a great idea it was back when it was first released.

A slightly more challenging brief at Christmas is when you have to communicate a specific offer or promotion. Lazy ads often tag the message on at the end. This ad for Gamestop breaks the mould and puts the offer at the centre of the narrative, making for genuinely hilarious viewing.

It’s important to note the excellent performance of the actors in this ad. It turned what could have been a boring ad into something you want to watch again and again.