Christmas 2019: the best ads so far

'Tis the season for wholesome spots and cheesy singalongs. Campaign rounds up the latest festive ads.

The countdown continues: brands are out in force to celebrate Christmas
The countdown continues: brands are out in force to celebrate Christmas

Homebase 'Let the festivities begin' by Atomic London

Homebase’s ad brings to light that not all festive decorations are created equal. 

A woman puts the final touches to her Christmas decor, but is quickly interrupted by her child, who adds a terrifying "angel" made of cardboard to the tree, ruining the living room’s near-perfect festive vibe.

The work was created by Dave Henderson and Guy Bradbury, and directed by Andrew Gaynord through MindsEye. The media agency is Havas Media.

McDonald's 'Archie the reindeer' by Leo Burnett

Taking the season of sentimentality to new heights, McDonald’s revived its "#ReindeerReady" campaign with an adorable ad.

After a young girl’s sister refuses to play with her, she becomes friends with a lovable reindeer named Archie. The pair run out of "reindeer treats" and set off to McDonald’s, where we discover Archie is actually the family dog.

It was created by Gareth Butters and directed by James Rouse (live action) and Againstallodds (animation) through Outsider and Passion Animation Studio respectively.

KFC 'Good luck' by Mother

KFC has continued its tirade against the Christmas turkey with a series of anxiety-flaring spots.

The hyperbolic ads amplify anything and everything that could go wrong while cooking a turkey, from setting poultry on fire to accidentally sending a (particularly slippery) bird into space.

It was directed by Golden Wolf through Stink.

Tesco 'Delivering Christmas' by Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

Tesco has taken a trip through decades past with a Back to the Future-inspired spot celebrating 100 years of the brand.

After a Christmas decorating spree goes awry, a Tesco delivery driver finds himself travelling through Dickensian London, visiting the Queen and gatecrashing the set of 1980s game show Bullseye before getting home for the holidays.

Set to Sleigh Ride by The Ronettes, the ad was directed by Traktor through Stink. 

John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners 'Excitable Edgar' by Adam & Eve/DDB

Arguably the most anticipated ad of the year, the first joint Christmas campaign from John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners saw the emergence of "Excitable Edgar" – a lovable dragon whose enthusiasm for Christmas accidentally ruins some celebrations. With the help of his friend Ava, Edgar finds his festive niche as a Christmas pudding-lighter.

The work was created by Simon Lloyd and directed by Blink’s Dougal Wilson, with Untold Studios working on post-production.

WWF 'Adopt a better future' by Uncommon Creative Studio

In an attempt to encourage people to gift animal adoptions for Christmas, WWF has released a stop-motion spot highlighting the real-life impact of deforestation on wildlife.

A young girl steps between a jaguar and a bulldozer, only to be met in solidarity by a band of people who stand beside her. Our young protagonist blows up the bulldozer with her mind and the spot ends as she stands in her room, surrounded by jaguar paraphernalia.

The work was directed by Noah Harris through Agile Films.

Sainsbury’s 'Nicholas the sweep' by Wieden & Kennedy London

Sainabury’s has literally rewritten the Christmas story to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

Set in a Dickensian London in 1869, the spot tells the fictional tale of a young sweep who is banished from the city after being wrongfully accused of stealing a clementine. 

With an appearance from founders John James and Mary Ann Sainsbury, the work was created by Tom Bender, Tom Corcoran, Tomas Coleman and Mat Kramer, and directed by Ninian Doff through Pulse Films. PHD is the media agency.

Loewe 'An otter's tale' (in-house)

Spanish fashion brand Loewe mixed live action, stop-motion animation and fantasy to create a surrealist Christmas spot.

It follows an otter’s strange journey through an alternate world containing a wading bird in a grove, a model wearing a frog suit, a dodo and a host of half-human, half-fantasy creatures before an animal turns into a handbag. 

The film was directed by Nina Gantz through Blinkink. 

Debenhams 'Thoughtful gifting for everyone' (in-house)

Debenhams launched a pair of festive spots in an attempt to position itself as the place to go for seasonal shopping.

While the main 30-second spot functions as a cheat sheet for hard-to-buy-for family members, including aftershave, winter hats and items from the retailer's alphabet shop, a shorter 20-second film promotes Debenhams' advent range, with a cameo from The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity… Get me out of Here! star Fleur East.

Boots 'Bootiques'  by Ogilvy

In what appears at first glance to be a sentimental Christmas ad, Boots brought the struggles of Christmas shopping to the fore with a campaign to promote its curated shopping experience "Bootiques".

Nobody is safe from the unadulterated sass of the spot – including ASMR fans, beauty bloggers, fitness fanatics, vegans and TikTok users.

The ad was created by Tom Madden, Morgan Hinds-Shorland, Naomi Nicholl and Lily James, and directed by Si & Ad through Academy.

Dogs Trust 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas' by And Rising

Coming in hot with one of the saddest ads of the season, Dogs Trust’s spot follows a dog made out of cork as it plays on the dinner table during Christmas day. 

However, the next day sees the pup chucked in the rubbish with the rest of the wrapping paper, where it becomes a real dog before being rescued by Dogs Trust.

Set to Sam Smith’s cover of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, the work was created by Anna Arnell and directed by Vaughan Arnell through Moxie Pictures.

Ikea 'Silence the critics' by Mother

In a strange twist of events, Ikea has brought grime music into the Christmas season to address the issue of "home shame" around this time of year.

The spot sees a team of inanimate objects – including a toy dinosaur, a teapot and a panda statue, as voiced by grime MC D Double E – perform a grime track throwing shade on the owners of a messy home. It was directed by Tom Kuntz through MJZ. Vizeum is the media agency. 

Marks & Spencer 'Go jumpers for Christmas' by Odd

With the help of House of Pain’s 1992 hit Jump Around, Marks & Spencer celebrated the Christmas season with a dance-centric spot featuring 50 jumpers from its range.

This marks the brand’s first TV ad by Odd since it won the retailer’s clothing and home ad account earlier this year. It was created by Turhan Osman and Nick Stickland, and directed by Jake Nava through Cherry Studios. The media agency is Mindshare.

Lidl 'A Christmas you can believe in' by Karmarama

Steering clear of the season’s fantastical flair, Lidl launched a remarkably realistic ad to mark "the nights getting colder and the wine getting hotter".

The spot covers Skype calls, indecisive present shopping and fruitless family charades, bringing to light the spirit of the season without all the reindeer and elves. It was created by Victoria Foster and directed by Vince Squibb through Academy.

M&S Food 'This is not just food, this is M&S Christmas food' by Grey London

TV presenters Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis get into the Christmas spirit to promote M&S Food's festive range.

Pottering through a Christmas market, the pair chat with food fans as they taste samples from the range, including a torched winter berry pavlova and M&S's "perfect" turkey.

It was created by Simon Parkin and Simon Johnson, and directed by Finn McGough (live action) and Helen Downing (food) through Pulse.

Aldi 'Christmas spectacular' by McCann UK

Robbie Williams has taken up the role of Kevin the Carrot as Aldi’s mascot returns for a fourth year.

First teased with a clip of the campaign's antagonists – Brummy Brussels sprouts gang the Leafy Blinders – the ad follows Kevin’s escape from a near-certain linching (or grating), before performing a festive version of Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You in a big-top tent, as voiced by the 18-time Brit Award winner himself. 

Kevin has been a staple of Aldi’s Christmas ads since 2016’s "Christmas carrot".

The work was created by Clive Davis and Andy Fenton, and directed by Todd Mueller and Kylie Matulick through Stink.

TK Maxx 'Gift different' by Wieden & Kennedy London

TK Maxx is raising the bar on Christmas gifting with the help of skiing daredevil TK. Stepping away from the "same old, same old" approach of buying gifts, TK sets out to deliver outside-the-box presents destined to wow his friends and family.

It was created by Joanna Osborne and Joseph Paul, and directed by Sam Hibbard through Somesuch. Mindshare is the media agency. 

Visa '#Whereyoushopmatters' by Saatchi & Saatchi London

Visa called on a team of 13 independent shopkeepers for an epic cover of Somebody to Love by Queen, in aid of the humble high-street shop. 

Aired during the Pride of Britain Awards on ITV, the ad saw barbers, booksellers and music aficionados put their vocal range to encourage Christmas shoppers to "show [the] high street some love" this year.

As well as broadcast, out-of-home, print and social media activity and earned media amplification, the campaign comes alongside a trio of media partnerships, including a series of business-based ads on Channel 4, a partnership with Global covering 12 local Heart radio stations and work featured in The Guardian.

The campaign was written by Samuel Simmonds and Olivia Weston, art directed by George Coyle, Harry O’Grady and Emily Downing, and directed by Gary Freedman through Independent. The media agency is Starcom. 

Amazon 'Holiday 2019' by Lucky Generals

It seems singalongs are a common theme for this year’s Christmas campaigns, with Amazon enlisting the vocal talents of Solomon Burke to soundtrack this year’s ad.

The spot begins with a girl playing Everybody Needs Somebody to Love on a miniature piano, before being joined by buskers, drivers, a tap-dancing man and even an Amazon parcel.

It was created by Nick Bird and Lee Smith, and directed by Henry Alex Rubin through Smuggler. Media planning and buying is by Initiative.

Asda 'Let's make Christmas extra special' by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Asda’s ad follows the journey of a young girl as she attempts to bring Christmas cheer to Tyldesley, Wigan, where in 2016 residents dubbed the Christmas tree in their market square the worst in the country for its "dead-looking" appearance. 

The work was written by Neil Clarke, art directed by Jay Phillips and directed by Tom Green through Stink. 

Walkers 'All I want for Christmas' by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Christmas icon Mariah Carey reprised her classic All I Want for Christmas to promote Walkers. 

Set during a music video shoot, the spot sees five-time Grammy winner Carey hand out self-obsessed gifts to crew members, before having an intense tug-of-war with a man dressed as an elf over the last packet of crisps.

The work was created by Alex Grieve and directed by Joseph Kahn through Caviar. The media agency is OMD UK.

Zalando 'Christmas' by Mother

With a focus on timeless fashion Zalando’s festive campaign showcases the unifying power of Christmas across generations.

Set to Cosmic Dancer by T-Rex, the ad follows a sharply dressed nan (model Frances Dunscombe) and her grandson as they attend a multigenerational Christmas party, decked out with pinball, poker and dancing. 

The work was directed by Sam Hibbard through Somesuch.

Iceland '#Magicoffrozen' (in-house)

In a name-based pun to end all name-based puns, Iceland partnered Disney to create an ad starring the cast of Frozen 2, ahead of the film’s release on 22 November.

The spot begins with a family playing an old-fashioned game of charades; but things take a surreal turn when a boy throws a stuffed toy of Frozen character Olaf (available in Iceland stores) into the air and it comes to life alongside CGI co-stars Anna, Elsa and Kristoff.

It was created in-house by Iceland and Disney’s in-house creative agency and was produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The partnership was facilitated by Iceland’s media agency, the7stars.

Argos 'The book of dreams' by The & Partnership London

Argos has created a percussion-heavy spot, set to 1980s classic Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds.

Giving into temptation, a dad begins to play his daughter’s miniature drum kit (as spotted in the Argos catalogue); after coming down the stairs to find her dad playing, the daughter is invited to join on a second set of drums.

The work was created by Ludo Thomas and Arthur Harry, and directed by Traktor through Stink.

Very 'Pass the parcel' by St Luke's

Following last year’s "Elsie’s gift", Very focused on the role of community during the winter season for its Christmas campaign.

The spot follows one street’s extravagant mission to deliver a present to an old man, Sidney, and his dog, ending with Sidney receiving his glowing purple gift from a remote-controlled truck, before spending Christmas with different members of the local community.

It was written by Hannah Talbut, art directed by Joanne Boyle and directed by Against All Odds through Passion Animation Studios.