The good, the bad and the ugly Christmas ads of 2021

Coming up with a Christmas ad 6 months beforehand and trying to successfully predict what will be happening in the world and how your customers will be feeling is always an unenviable task and never more so than over the last couple of years.

Should you mention the pandemic? Do people really want to go big this year to make up for 2020? Will we go into another lockdown?

The pandemic has made it incredibly hard for brands to know what to do for the best, which is possibly why a lot of the Christmas ads released so far have been a little bit meh. Yes, all the traditional elements are there (traditional family values; togetherness; a white Christmas;) but it just feels like brands have gone big on production rather than focusing on creativity. So, while most of the ads look great and pile on the Christmas emotion, they aren’t exactly a bastion of originality. (I know, let’s go round our store and show the viewers the products we sell.)

But as always, there are a few that stand head and shoulders above the rest, so without further ado here is our look at the good, the bad, and ugly Christmas ads of 2021.

The Good

 

Kindness, the greatest gift – Amazon

A big thumbs up for this ad from Amazon. It perfectly captures how many of us feel about everything getting back to normal again. Thought-provoking and emotional it’s a gentle reminder that not everyone will be looking forward to going out and about again and taking part in the things we traditionally do at this time of year.

Ebanana Scrooge – Aldi

Marcus Radishford, Ebanana Scrooge!  You just know how much fun the marketing team had coming up with those names.

A fun ad which draws on a classic Christmas story (what would Dickens think!) to remind us all to be kind. And we love seeing Cuthbert the Caterpillar being arrested in the background. A cheeky reference to the caterpillar wars between Aldi and Marks & Spencer!

Oh, and Aldi have also pledged to donate 1.8m meals to families over the festive period. That in itself makes this ad better than most.

Baubles to last year! Christmas is ON – Argos

Good on Argos for referencing last year’s wash-out of a Christmas, although it’s a bit brave to suggest we are all going to go mad this year given COVID hasn’t gone away. But it’s got the feel-good factor in spades and includes lots of presents for the whole family, a clever way of reminding us Argos is a great place for inspiration. There’s even a sneaky shot of the ‘Book of Dreams’.

Go all out this Christmas – Sports Direct

Featuring a plethora of sport stars and celebrities, this is Sports Direct’s first every Christmas ad – yes really! It’s a bit of fun and features a white Christmas, although we found we spent more time trying to spot the stars rather than focusing on the products! But at least it has a smattering of creativity about it.

The Bad

 

‘Unexpected Guest’ – John Lewis


This feels like a John Lewis Christmas ad. Nothing wrong with that, although you could argue it’s just a box ticking exercise. A cute kid, an outsider, a new take on a tune we all know, and no products.  Looks great, but formulaic and a little bit meh.

Now the Iceland ad – that makes us smile!

Chimney – Real Magic – Coca-Cola

A heart-warming ad from Coca-Cola which focuses on the concept of togetherness. In fact, given there are hardly any shots of the product, you could almost mistake it for… yep, a John Lewis ad.

Have to say though we’d be a bit miffed if we built a chimney that size and got just one miserly present!! And we really wish Coco-Cola would stop calling it the ‘holidays’ rather than what it patently is. Overall, just so-so.

Paddington, Please Look After This Bear – Barbour


We really wanted to like this advert as it features Paddington, but to be honest we’re not really sure what it’s advertising. Barbour jackets or the wax dressing? And if it’s Christmas Day why hasn’t anyone noticed the kitchen looks like a bomb’s hit it?! Beautifully animated, but sometimes that’s just not enough.

The Ugly

 

Percy Pig comes to life for the first time EVER! – M&S Food


Is it just us or does this ad make you immediately think of having pork instead of turkey this year?! There is something decidedly odd about a pig getting excited about smoked salmon and that’s before we mention our pet hate, the anthropomorphism of animals.  The good news is chocolate isn’t toxic to pigs in case anyone is stupid enough to feed their pig the chocolate panettone.  A definite thumbs down.

Big on a Christmas you can ALWAYS believe in – Lidl


Sorry, hate it. Yes, it’s perfectly on brand capturing Lidl’s sense of humour and it’s a great ad for their products (including their Christmas jumper), but once you’ve seen it once you never want to see it again. And it’s also a bit presumptuous to imagine Lidl will even exist that far into the future.

Bags of Joy – Boots


This ad is meant to be about joy and celebrating being with friends and family, but it’s way too long and feels like the only thing missing is the kitchen sink.  And maybe it’s just us but at the beginning when she keeps reaching in the bag for more presents, she just seems to sum up everything that’s bad about Christmas – the blatant consumerism.  And in which universe do people gift a bottle of perfume unwrapped and out of its box with a nasty manila luggage label attached to it?!

But the only thing people will remember is that emotional final shot with Nan, that is if they get that far.