Much like Christmas carols, the annual flood of Christmas ads can have you welling with festive cheer or heading to the bathroom to puke. Save for you having to dig about yourself, here B&T counts down our top 10 favourite festive spots for 2023. Think we got it wrong? Leave your nasty, tinsel-ladened ripostes in the comments section below…
10) Burger King via Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Burger King in the UK took a unique approach to its Christmas work, releasing a Christmas carol sung by a car satnav. The campaign, by London agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, includes an almost eight-minute remake of Chris Rea’s hit “Driving Home for Christmas” that it’s retitled “Driving (Thru The) Home (Of The Whopper)”. The hypnotic track provides actual directions to 21 real-life Burger King restaurants and even includes digs at competitors – “Fancy a milkshake? Our machines tend to work” – a nod to Macca’s’ famously failing dessert machines. It also tries to persuade listeners to ditch the traditional festive fare for one of its burgers. The campaign includes local radio spots featuring the song and is also available on YouTube.
9) Amazon goes in-house
Amazon certainly tugged at the heartstrings with its “Joy is shared” global Christmas campaign (or, holidays as the Americans prefer.) At the centre of the company’s latest seasonal blitz is the 60-second spot, “Joy Ride,” which depicts three older ladies who are seen gathered on a park bench. They watch as kids sled down a hill, a scene seemingly reminiscent of their younger years. Later, one of the women orders seat cushions on Amazon, which the trio then use to sled together as flashbacks from the past come into focus during a gleeful trek down the hill. The whole thing’s set to the iconic Beatles hit “In My Life”.
8) Coca-Cola the world needs more Santas
Coca-Cola’s 2023 efforts were titled “The World Needs More Santas” and featured new TVCs and digital and experiential elements. The global effort was adapted for more than 80 markets around the world. The 90-second-long hero spot features Santas in all manner of guises — from doing their laundry to working out at the gym. Naturally, it features the Coca-Cola truck at the end. The spot is set to “I Could Be Santa Claus” by British singer-songwriter Celeste. The campaign was an extension of Coke’s “Create Real Magic” and was developed by WPP Open X, led by VML and supported by Grey, Ogilvy, Essence Mediacom, Hogarth and JKR.
7) Ronan Keating stars for Rockshore
Irish lager and cider brand Rockshore enlisted former Boyzone band member Ronan Keating for a witty take on what the Irish call St. Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day, as it’s more commonly known). The carolling number sees Keating, 46, paired with the brand’s ambassador – a fella by the name of Rocko – duetting to a comic version of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. According to research by the Diageo-owned brand, Irish people rank St. Stephen’s Day as the best festive day to catch up with friends for a pint. The findings revealed that 48 per cent of adults rank St. Stephen’s Day and Christmas Eve above Christmas Day as the top days for celebrations over the holidays.
6) Woolworths via M&C Saatchi
Woolworths unveiled its Christmas campaign, celebrating the little things that make Christmas special, including coming together over the festive season with loved ones. The integrated campaign produced in partnership with M&C Saatchi within the Greenhouse Collective. The content follows the journey of school children dressed to represent fresh food from across regional Australia, including cherries from Young, NSW and mangoes from Dimbulah, Queensland, as they venture to perform in a Christmas spectacular for their family and friends. When one child forgets their costume en route, the children and a few parents band together to help make a spectacular Christmas cracker costume just in time for the show.
5) Marks & Spencer via Mother
When it comes to Christmas ads, no one beats the Brits. However, venerable retailer Marks & Spencer has managed to upset plenty of people with their annual festive spot. The work, by London agency Mother, managed to rack up 23 complaints to the UK’s ad watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in its first 24 hours. The spot called “Thismas” and hosts an array of stars including the actress Hannah Waddingham, actress and playwright Zawe Ashton, singer Sophie Ellis Bextor and Queer Eye’s Tan France doing Christmas their way. According to the ASA, the complaints centered on the Christmas cards being burned with a blowtorch and an elf puppet being batted from a rooftop. In a statement, ASA said: “Complainants believe that these scenes might be distressing for children to see, that they encourage emulating dangerous behaviour and that they depict a negative sentiment of this occasion.”
4) John Lewis via Saatchi & Saatchi
Arguably the most examined piece of creative globally all year, 2023’s efforts come from newly appointed agency Saatchi & Saatchi who won the pitch this year from incumbent adam&eveDDB. As Saatchi CCO Franki Goodwin said of making the spot: “Taking on the John Lewis Christmas ad – no pressure, right? It has been quite the six months. I really do appreciate that pressure is a privilege – and making this has been a huge one.” The work stars a young lad who grows and befriends a rather un-festive Venus Flytrap called Snapper who has a fondness for opera (which is actually an original tune sung by none other than Andrea Bocelli!) The look-hard-or-you’ll-miss-it moment comes when we see the father is absent in the family set-up of mum, nan, sister and the young boy.
3) Tesco via BBH
UK grocer Tesco waited until all its rivals released their ads to deliver a glorious spot of fun that was universally loved by UK media that’s quick to skewer work not to their liking or weighed down with too much sentimentality. The work of London agency BBH, the spot follows a consistent theme of ads this year in not using Christmas music. Instead, the ad plays along to Kiwi band OMC’s 1995 gem “How Bizarre”. Alongside the ad, which plays heavily on the cost of living, Tesco is putting free Santa’s grottos in 150 stores, a £500,000 investment in a “win your Christmas shop” competition and even free movie screenings to help overstressed staff.
2) ALDI Australia via BMF
The BMF team clearly take a leaf out of the books of their UK counterparts and a consistent performer for best Aussie Christmas ad of the year. The agency’s work for the brand is known for its humour and that’s despite ALDI’s often dry, Germanic ways of dealing with things. As its competitors don’t go much further than spruiking the freshness of their Christmas prawns, BMF’s Christmas work is playful and weirdly uniquely Australian. And it certainly wouldn’t be an ALDI advert if we didn’t get reminded for the zillionth time how cheap it is.
1) Apple via TBWA\Media Arts Lab
Apple’s Christmas ad is an epic four-minute stop-motion spectacular that’s B&T’s Chrissie ad of the year. The work of its incumbent creative agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab and called “Fuzzy Feelings”, the spot dips in and out of the cartoon world and the real one as we see a relationship develop between a woman and her curmudgeonly boss. Not just a sweet and sentimental short film, it also spruiks the filmmaking attributes of the iPhone 15 Pro Max and MacBook Air while wishing you a hearty dose of Christmas cheer. Following a familiar theme of Christmas ads this year, the work goes sans festive tune and instead is soundtracked to George Harrison’s rather dour 1970 track “Isn’t It a Pity”.
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