Grab a candy cane and settle in…let’s take a look at some of 2018’s best Christmas campaigns.

Every year we see social media platforms and televisions flooded with Christmas themed advertisements. As a marketing agency, we love Christmas advertising, it’s festive, joyful, and often it is the only time of year where clients give marketers the freedom to create a campaign about whatever they like. Plus the start of Christmas advertising means we are one step closer to the end of year break — and who doesn’t love a cheeky little holiday?

Over the years, marketers and advertising agencies have created some incredible and experimental campaigns that play perfectly into this time of year. As Nelson Jordan, Co-Founder of Agency Match (it’s like a dating site but for marketing agencies in the UK) says:

Your marketing campaign MUST create cut-through with your target audience. Every retailer will be looking to use Christmas as an opportunity to reach potential customers. As a result, your customer’s attention is pulled in so many different directions, it takes something surprising, or remarkable to get them to take an action.

Often Christmas campaigns are centred around common festive themes, such as eating, drinking, and being merry. However, some of the biggest focuses are on thankfulness and looking back on the year that has been. There have been some extremely memorable campaigns in years gone by, a few of our favourites include:

We thought we would take a look at some of biggest Christmas campaigns released this year and try to understand what makes them so successful.

Coca-Cola — #BeSanta

“You know it’s officially Christmas when the Coca-Cola ads come out!”
— Belle, Client Marketing & Strategy extraordinaire at
Orange Digital

In the past Coca-Cola has released their traditional ‘Holidays Are Coming’ advertisement follows the journey of a large semi-trailer lit up for the Christmas season. However, this year, the company has taken a different approach with their advertisement ‘The World Needs More Santa’s’.

The fully integrated global campaign spans across television, digital out-of-home, social, digital video, UGC, and shopper. There are three key campaign elements:

  • “#BeSanta” promoting ideas for performing acts of kindness;
  • “Coke Missions” challenges consumers to perform the goodwill “missions” printed on the label; and
  • A Holiday Calendar of daily missions over the entire holiday season (with offers related to “Coke Missions”).

Using a variety of elements and platforms allows the campaign to be understood and seen by an incredibly wide audience. It also encourages a repetition of action and consequently a subconscious association between the brand and an individual’s actions.

Here in Australia, the brand has chosen to partner with The Salvation Army. Often charity partnerships are common this time of year. This is done to further increase brand awareness, whereas, sometimes it is simply out of the goodness of the brand’s heart.

John Lewis & Partners — #EltonJohnLewis

“This ad is just too good. If the Queen movie was done for Elton John that’s how it’d look like. It also reminds me that my mom never gave me the guitar I wanted when I was a kid.”
— Petrus,
Orange Digital’s Motion Designer and Fashionista

“I don’t even know what John Lewis & Partners sell but I want to buy it all now thanks to that ad.”
— Scott,
Orange Digital’s Search Marketing and SEO wiz

Probably our favourite advertisement in the office, this was shared on our team Slack when it was aired a few weeks back and we all fell in love.

The UK retailers focused on sending a message about the power of a gift. The story looks at how one gift inspired, changed, and influenced the course of a little boy’s life — who just happens to be Elton John. Even though this advertisement makes you reach for the tissues, there has been some backlash online.

Most consumers were disappointed with the lack of Christmas elements. Additionally, some drew connections between the advertisement and Elton John’s upcoming tour and film ‘Rocketman’. Questioning the intentions and purity of the advertisement. If the ad wasn’t released in the holiday season, it’s likely these concerns wouldn’t be so apparent.

We aren’t as sold on their advertisement after this connection was pointed out… But it is still a sweet and heartwarming ad.

Air New Zealand — “Nicest Christmas Ever”

“It’s amazing to see the impression a brand can leave with you by showing its personality without talking directly about itself.”
— Scott,
Orange Digital’s Search Marketing and SEO wiz

“I’m from New Zealand, now I have to be nicer to Australia. Damnit.”
— Sarah, Social Media Marketing guru at
Orange Digital

Comedy is a common feature in New Zealand advertising and this year Air New Zealand did not disappoint. It was the crossover between Designated Survivor and Rugrats, that we didn’t know we needed. The incorporation of different countries and the subtle jokes surrounding their political stance makes this advertisement appealing for a variety of consumers globally.

Air New Zealand General Manager Global Brand and Content Jodi Williams, says:

Showcasing our people is a hallmark of Air New Zealand’s brand campaigns and it was fantastic to be able to share the limelight with more of the Air New Zealand family this time.

Air New Zealand was able to keep most of the work in-house, more than 300 children from their employees auditioned to take part in the clip. 17 of these children were selected to star alongside the airline’s ground and cabin crew — my favourite feature of this ad.

Iceland Foods — “Rang-Tan”

“This one really pulls on my heart strings! The first time I saw this ad I shared it across all my personal social platforms — well done Iceland for spreading such an important message in time for Christmas. I hope in 2019 we really start to see more environmentally and ethically conscious consumer behaviour. Unfortunately I think too much damage has already been done…”
— Belle, Client Marketing & Strategy extraordinaire at
Orange Digital

The next video we chose is Iceland Foods ‘No Palm Oil’ advertisement was actually banned on television. The Iceland Foods’ team joined Greenpeace International to create the animation and using a voice-over from actress Emma Thompson. However, Clearcast (UK advertising approval board) rejected the clip on grounds of “political advertising”.

Like many campaigns regarding this and similar topics, the video has now gone viral — sparking up a debate on social media and YouTube (nearly 6 million views on YouTube alone). The campaign has received more than 65 million views across social media, as well as over one million signatures on Change.org.

Iceland Foods’ marketing director, Neil Hayes has released the following statement about the banning of the advert:

We’ve been able to reach a huge number of customers without TV advertising, thanks to the level of support from campaigners, celebrities, the media and of course the public.

This statement has sparked concerns from advertising boards. Many are worried other marketers will see how much publicity the banning created and consequently use this tactic as a method in future campaigns.

While this time of year often sees many happy and joyful advertisements, some companies take a different approach and chose to send deep important messages such like this. When consumption is at an all-time high around this time of year, consumers can forget the impact they have on the environment. Here Iceland Foods are trying to break the habit and re-educate customers and avoided giving a ‘typical’ Christmas message at all.

This short clip leaves me thinking about many different things, but in particular, does alternative messages such as this have a more powerful effect at Christmas time? It is during this time people tend to become a little more susceptible and open to heart hitting messages — has Iceland Foods used this emotion to their advantage?

Bouygues Christmas — French Technology Company

“Possibly the sweetest ad I’ve seen! Learnt some new dance moves too…”
— Sarah, Social Media Marketing guru at
Orange Digital

Probably my personal favourite this season, I am a sucker for ads with babies and anything including a good song and boogie.

We often see technology or phone companies use the “giving more than technology” and these all follow similar storylines. However, Bouygues leveraged this storyline in a way that empowered their message. The technology company has been able to pull at people’s heartstrings and rely on consumers being able to relate with the “circle of life” theme.

So while this “technology brings people closer together” theme is a little overdone, Bouygues has been able to really appeal to consumers by blending mobile phones into the holidays in a heartwarming way. The tech company has been able to increase the perceived value of the gift. Will Burns (advertising veteran) explains they have been able to achieve this by keeping the ad focused on the benefit of the gift, specifically the real value of staying in touch with friends and family — especially around Christmas. Additionally, the brand has been able to communicate that they are not only in the business to sell stuff but in business for a purpose.

This might be an ad you cannot truly understand until you are a parent. So Dads, keep dancing awkwardly.

Sainsbury — “The Big Night”

“Now that’s an epic and adorable Christmas ad! The kids are just too cute… takes me back to the days of Christmas concerts (oh the nostalgia). Keep your eyes peeled for the kid that’s ‘the plug’. Classic.”
— Belle, Client Marketing & Strategy extraordinaire at
Orange Digital

What I love so much about this ad is the amount of work and thought put into it. There was a huge cast of 59 kids, all aged between 6 and 11. My favourite part is the fact the children’s parents were kept away from rehearsals until shoot day (so the parents actually make up the audience and are seeing it for the first time).

Keep a special eye out for these superstars: Queen on the (cardboard) TV, shiny tree baubles, the drum-playing turkey, a nativity camel, presents, and fairy lights. Our favourite and the secret hero of the advertisement is the plug jumping into the socket.

The film forms part of the brand’s large-scale ‘We give all we’ve got for the ones we love’ Christmas marketing campaign, supported by radio, print, digital, social and OOH advertising planned around the same message.

After I watched the advertisement for *about* the tenth time it occurred to me this clip very easily could have been extracted from my favourite Christmas movie: Love Actually. Needless to say, it was like I fell in love with the performance all over again.

It is such a pity good advertisements like these only seem to run at Christmas time.

From everyone at Orange Digital, we hope you have a safe and happy Christmas break and we look forward to coming back in 2019.


Originally published at www.orangedigital.com.au.