Christmas 2020: the ads making the best of a bad year

Ahead of a Christmas like no other, Campaign rounds up the latest festive ads.

Iceland ‘A Christmas full of surprises’ (in-house)

Stepping away from Frozen 2, Iceland’s festive ad showcases the prices of the brand’s goose-fat roasted potatoes, pigs in blankets and roasted parsnips.

It was created by Joseph Gummett, with production handled by Chief Productions.

DFS 'A comfy carol' by Krow

DFS enlisted Wallace and Gromit for its festive campaign, which follows the dynamic duo as they entertain their neighbours with a “Ewe-phonia” (basically a group of carolling sheep).

It was written by Darryl George, art directed by Jon Mitchell and directed by Will Becher through Aardman.

Debenhams ‘#Giftastic’ (in-house)

This year, Debenhams encourages consumers to buy gifts for parents, loved ones and “even Kate” with an original cringe-worthy song. Also there is a dog. 

The work was directed by Jon Casey and produced by Bubble TV.

Vodafone ‘The magic of connection’ by Ogilvy UK

Vodafone hails the power of technology during the holiday season with an ad starring a young boy (with a broken leg) who receives a VR headset for Christmas.

It was created by Jamie Romain and Dan Shone, and directed by Nick Gordon through Somesuch. Media is handled by Carat.

SodaStream ‘The small things’ (in-house)

Snoop Dogg bakes, saves the planet and celebrates Christmas with his family in a festive spot for SodaStream. 

The Doggfather also plays his own children and his dog for the ad, which is equal parts funny and terrifying.

It was created by Alon Seifert and directed by Jake Szymanski (who also directed Adidas’ Snoop Dogg-starring festive spot in 2012 “The cautionary tale of Ebenezer Snoop”) through Jiminy Creative Tel-Aviv.

Great Ormond Street Hospital ‘Home for Christmas’ by Adam & Eve/DDB

Great Ormond Street Hospital’s festive ad follows patient Mia as she falls asleep in her hospital room, and ends as she runs downstairs to celebrate Christmas day with her sister Amy.

The work was created by Simone Warme and Jeppe Vidstrup and directed by Marlies Van Der Wel through Partizan Studio. Hearts & Science is the media agency, while Ocean Outdoor, JCDecaux, Verizon, News UK, The Guardian and The Telegraph have donated media space.

Sports Direct ‘Sport starts here’ by Mox London

Highlighting the stresses of Christmas gifting, “Sport starts here” stars an indecisive teen as she attempts a series of sports to decide what she wants for Christmas.

The ad features a cameo from Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, and was created by Matt Bolton and directed by Henry Schofield through Academy.

Sainsbury’s ‘Gravy song’ by Wieden & Kennedy London

Sainsbury’s released not one, but three festive spots this year. The first features a song about one dad’s beloved gravy.

The work was created by Joe Bruce and directed by ThirtyTwo through Pulse Films. PHD is the media agency and Essence oversaw digital media buying.

Tesco ‘No naughty list’ by Bartle Bogle Hegarty London

Set to Oops!...I Did It Again by Britney Spears, Tesco’s Christmas ad follows people across the UK as they lift the lid on the atrocities they’ve committed throughout 2020, from bulk-buying bog roll to less-than-ideal video-call etiquette.

It was created by Daniel Seager and Steve Hall, and directed by Raine Allen-Miller through Somesuch. MediaCom is the media agency.

Lidl ‘A Christmas you can believe in’ by Karmarama

Flipping the switch on the standard Lidl Christmas ad, “A Christmas you can believe in” follows one family’s clichéd journey through the festive season, including the slow-pouring of “emotional gravy”.

It was created by Meigan Brown and Tobias Owen, and directed by Joseph Mann through Blinkink.

O2 ‘Unwrap the magic of Christmas’ by VCCP

Mascot Bubl takes to the ice with a young skatter in O2’s Christmas campaign, which ends as the two settle down to watch Frozen 2 via Disney+ on a tablet.

The TV ad comes alongside a YouTube masthead takeover and a Snapchat augmented-reality lens. 

It was created by Pip Bishop and Chris Hodgkiss, and directed by Gary Freedman through Independent. Media is handled by Havas.

Plenty ‘Xmess’ by AMV BBDO

Set to Love Hurts by Nazareth, Plenty’s Christmas ad is a montage of all the potential spills which could take place during the festive season, from wasted wine and a bloody nose to dropping a turkey as it emerges from the oven.

The ad was written by Dan Warner and Prabhu Wignarajah, art directed by Jamie Starbuck and Andy Vasey, and directed by Steve Rogers through Somesuch and Revolver. Media is handled by Zenith.

Heineken ‘Holidays as usual’ by Publicis Italy

Heineken showcases the many small disagreements which take place during the Christmas season, including the traditional decorations and horrible jumpers.

It was written by Pamela Bianda, art directed by Marina Perta and directed by Markus Walter through Skipless.

Gucci ‘The office party’

Gucci’s 90s-inspired festive spot features all the cliches of the office Christmas party, with karaoke, a conga line and a classic photocopying bit. The work was directed by Akinola Davies Jr.

John Lewis and Waitrose ‘Give a little love’ by Adam & Eve/DDB

Set to an original song by Brit Award winner Celeste, this year’s Christmas ad from John Lewis and Waitrose features nine different animation styles and encourages the nation to spread kindness during what has been a turbulent year for most.

As usual, the campaign has been a talking point online with celebrities including Lewis Capaldi and Marcus Rashford weighing in.

It was directed by Oscar Hudson through Pulse Films. Manning Gottlieb OMD handled media planning and buying.

Currys PC World ‘Amazing tech’ by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Currys PC World’s has released two Christmas ads that feature members of staff as they test tech at home – including products from LG and Google – with their families.

The work was created by Neil Shanlin and directed by Joe Shaw. Media is handled by Spark Foundry.

McDonald's ‘Inner child’ by Leo Burnett

Continuing its “#ReindeerReady” brand positioning, McDonald's animated Christmas ad stars a moody teen and his mum as they spend the holidays together, picking up some carrots for Santa’s reindeer along the way. The brand is encouraging the British public to embrace their inner child this festive season.

It was created by Steph Ellis and Rory Hall, and directed by Againstallodds through Passion Pictures. Media is handled by OMD.

Boots ‘What the world needs now’ by Ogilvy UK

Boots’ Christmas spot stars personified soap, bubbles, toothpaste and other consumer goods as they sing a rendition of What the World Needs Now is Love by Dionne Warwick

It was created by Emma Parkinson, Solomon Bednall-Greaves, Nicola Wood and Andy Forrest, and directed by Silence Aitken-Till through Curate Films. The media agency is MediaCom.

Dobbies ‘The joy of Dobbies’ by Odd

Garden centre retailer Dobbies’ trio of festive ads follow a woman, a dog and a tea-drinking man as they have the time of their respective lives during the festive season.

The work was created by Chloe Hwang and directed by J Marlow through Outsider. Media is handled by MediaCom Edinburgh.

Burberry ‘Singing in the rain’ by Riff Raff Films

Burberry’s winter campaign shows a team of dancers as they throw shapes on the streets of London, to the tune of Singing in the Rain.

It was created by Rachel Crowther, art directed by Al Watts and Sean Bell, and created and directed by Megaforce through Riff Raff Films.

Barbour ‘Father Christmas to the rescue’

Said to be “inspired by a true story from Christmas past”, the ad follows Father Christmas as he endeavours to fulfil a young boy’s wish of replacing his dad’s favourite coat.

Naturally, Santa stops by Barbour to have the jacket repaired, with a rewax thrown in for good measure.

The work was art directed by Loraine Marshall and written and directed by Dave Unwin through Illuminated Films.

Notonthehighstreet ‘The magic of small things’ by Friendly Giants

With a focus on small businesses during the pandemic, Notonthehighstreet’s spot celebrates the “small surprises, the small joys, the small secrets” and the “small gestures” at the heart of the Christmas season.

The ad encourages people to “believe in the magic of small things”, and was created by Gavin Leisfield and Gabrielle Choo and directed by John Turner. Media is handled by Hearts & Science.

Disney 'From our family to yours' by Disney

Disney’s Christmas spot follows the relationship between grandmother Lola and her granddaughter, with a stuffed vintage Mickey Mouse toy at the centre of the film.

It was written by Angela Affinita, Maria Goulamhoussen and Emily Beecher, and directed by Angela Affinita and Laban Dickinson through Flux Animation Studio.

Coca-Cola 'The letter' by Wieden & Kennedy London

Directed by Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi, the ad follows a dad’s journey to deliver his daughter’s Christmas letter to Santa Claus.

The film was produced through Hungry Man, and media is handled by Wavemaker.

Morrisons 'Making Christmas' by Publicis.Poke

Set to Levitating by Dua Lipa, the ad features families as they gather together for the festive seasons, enjoying the traditional tropes of roast dinners, karaoke and Christmas jumpers in spite of uncertainty following how Covid-19 will affect this year’s festivities.

Deliveroo 'Christmas is on' by Deliveroo

Set to the tune of We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Deliveroo’s Christmas campaign features customers as they receive orders from restaurants including Pret, KFC and Pizza Express.

Aldi 'Kevin's journey' by McCann UK

Kevin the Carrot is back and on an epic journey to make it home for Christmas. Along the way he encounters Harry the hedgehog and Father Christmas, who is played by actor Jim Broadbent.

The work was created by Clive Davis and Andy Fenton, and directed by Todd Mueller and Kylie Matulick through Stink. UM Manchester is the media agency. 

Marks & Spencer 'This is M&S Christmas food' by Grey London

Olivia Colman, Eddie Redmayne and Dame Helen Mirren are just some of the stars that the retailer has tapped to provide voiceovers for its food Christmas ads. M&S will also donate £2m to charities. 

The campaign was created by Naomi Taylor, Sam Haynes and John Gibson, and directed by Helen Downing through Pulse.

Three 'Your phone's seen a lot this year' by Wonderhood Studios

From video calls and working from home to virtual quizzes, Three has summed up 2020 through the view of a mobile phone. A Christmas soundtrack features a choir singing about the unrelenting hard work of a phone. 

The work was created by Jack Croft and Stacey Bird and directed by Simon Ratigan through HLA.

Marks & Spencer 'It's on' by Marks & Spencer

The retailer has created a series of 10 different films to run online as it targets different customers. They each open with Willoughby saying "Christmas: it's on" to the camera, while Blondie's One way or another plays. 

Walkers 'A sausage CaRoll' by Elvis

YouTuber LadBaby visits different homes to sing carols and along the way we see cameos from Aled Jones, Carol Smillie, East 17's Tony Mortimer and Gary Lineker. 

It was created by James Hudson and Rob Griffiths, and directed by Mike Baldwin through Craft Films. Media planning and buying was handled by OMD.

Pizza Hut 'The 55 days of Christmas' by Iris London

Parker J Patterson, the fast food chain's brand ambassador, takes viewers through a limited edition festive pizza in the form of a Christmas carol.

The ad was created by Lou Bogue and Rupert Thornborough, and directed by Fatal Farm through Agile Films. The media agency is Navigate Digital.

Argos ‘Book of dreams’ by The & Partnership London

Soundtracked by Gary Barlow’s Incredible and with the same theme as last year’s festive campaign, the ad follows two sisters who circle a box of magic tricks in the Argos catalogue, before being transported to Christmas evening. Suddenly, their living room is transformed into a West End theatre for an extraordinary illusionist performance.

The work was created by Matt Wood and Tom Loveless, and directed by James Rouse through Outsider. 

Very ‘Christmas is this very moment’ by Grey London

Set to the track Hot Love by T Rex, the spot follows mum Jodie as she lists all her favourite and imperfect festive moments, including the neighbour’s lights display zapping the National Grid, fitting an oversized tree into the living room, terrible Christmas music and giving presents to everyone from the postwoman to the bin man with the help of Very’s app. 

It was created by Matt Moreland, Chris Clarke, Emma Thomas, Ryan Delaney, Angela Harding and Terry O’Neill, and directed by Gary Freedman through Independent Films. Pace, which is part of Vizeum, handled media planning and buying.

Facebook 'Charades' by TBWA\London

Ian Wright stars in these ads to promote Facebook's smart video product Portal. There are three ads have a humorous element showing Wright cheating when playing games with his family.

The work was created by Harriet Russell-Vick and Lauren Buggins, and directed by Benjamin Green through MindsEye. Media planning and buying was handled by Mindshare.

Pepsi Max ‘Christmas refreshed’ by Truant

Pepsi Max’s ad stars UK grime and rap artists Kamakaze and TrueMendous as they declare: “Traditional is so cliché.”

The pair rap as they step away from the tropes of the festive season, replacing festive jumpers with hoodies and the Christmas tree with a palm tree.

The work was created by Charlie Lindsay and George Bartlett, and directed by Paul Casey and Rich Jobson through Dark Energy. The media agency is OMD. 

Amazon ‘The show must go on’ by Lucky Generals

Set to an arrangement of The Show Must Go On by Queen, the ad features French ballerina Taïs Vinolo, who plays an up-and-coming dancer whose dreams are jeopardised due to the Covid-19 crisis.

It was shot by director Melina Matsouka, who has directed music videos for Beyoncé’s Formation and Rihanna’s We Found Love, as well as 2019 film Queen & Slim. Media planning and buying was handled by Initiative agency Rufus.

TK Maxx ‘The lil’ goat’ by by Wieden & Kennedy London

A goat is given a new designer outfit because "she's had such a hard year". And what an outfit it is.

The film was created by Francesca Van Haverbeke and Florence Deary, and directed by Matthijs van Heijningen through MJZ. Mindshare is the media agency.

WWF ‘Space to live’ by Uncommon Creative Studio

WWF showcases the importance of home in the wilderness preservation organisation’s Christmas spot. 

The ad was directed by The Shirley Chipchase Collective through MPC Creative. Media is handled by Dentsu's Vizeum and Merkle.

Lego ‘And I think to myself’ by The Lego Agency

Set to a (rather surreal) version of What a Wonderful World, the ad showcases the many ways in which Lego can encourage creativity in children, from blue horses to sausage trees. 

It was created by Lucas Reynoso Vizcaino, Leah Juaymah Mababangloob, Gonzalo Torres Arce and Julie Koch, and directed by The Bobbsey Twins from Homicide through Blink. Initiative is the media agency. 

Asda 'Asda price Christmas' by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Asda brought back real-life superfan Sunny for its price-focused Christmas campaign. After previously starring in two other Asda ads this year, Sunny returns to help his family get ready for the big day.

Greenies 'Snowman' by Adam & Eve/DDB

Greenies' campaign shows that life with a dog isn't always picture perfect, especially during the festive season. It was written by Miles Carter, art directed by Helen Balls and directed by Jeff Low through Biscuit Filmworks.

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