To put it in the immortal words of Alvin & The Chipmunks, ‘Christmas, Christmas time is near,’ and you know what that means: another batch of festive ads! Christmas ads may not be popular in the US where I’m from, but after six years of living here in the UK, I’m just as excited about the launch of festive ads as everyone else at Elastic!
In contrast to years past when some of the most anticipated ads seemed to have nothing in common with each other, a few key traits stand out among the biggest players of 2019: cartoons, callbacks and cameos.
Animation is becoming a more popular mode of shooting Christmas ads, which works really well as a medium because it allows a heavy-handedness that would be cloying in live action ads. Want to know what I mean? McDonald’s so-called live action ‘Dead Dad’ advert from a couple of years ago tries and fails to get across the same message that their Christmas ad this year: McDonald’s brings people together. But where the Dead Dad ad goes awry, this year’s animated ad works simply because it’s a lot more acceptable to include heavy emotions in an ad if they’re tempered with animation.
Callbacks, where the same setting or characters are used year after year in new ads, are also gaining popularity in the world of Christmas ads. Coca-Cola, of course, is the master of this (in fact, Coke’s contribution to the world of Christmas ads is so important that they are often incorrectly assumed to have invented Santa’s outfit). It makes sense that other brands are starting to get in on the action – what better way is there to stretch your advert budget than by revisiting characters your audience already knows and loves?
Finally, cameos have always played a role in Christmas ads, but as ad costs increase and more brands are fighting for an ever-dwindling amount of public spend, cameos seem even more present this year than ever before. Whether stars appear in ads simply by providing the soundtrack or by physically starring in ads, the fact remains that celeb-focussed Christmas ads are more common than ever.
Ready to see which ads take the Christmas cake this year? Read on to find out!
Besides being a cute ad, the Very commercial does double-duty as it also brings back the Chester Street characters from 2016, 2017 and 2018. This increases brand recognition because the look & feel remain the same, and also gives viewers something to look forward to as the world is already established, even if the particulars of this year’s ad are brand new.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way: I might be the only person in the office who liked this ad (which, though not fully animated, still features a touch of CG in the form of Excitable Edgar), but I thought it was lovely. It’s heartwarming and atmospheric, and even worked in a nod to Waitrose’s food offering. Plus, who can resist a song by REO Speedwagon (covered by Bastille, no less!)?
Much like Very, Aldi has returned to the animated world of Kevin the Carrot for the fourth year running. With merchandise available in stores and a Robbie Williams tune scoring the spot, it’s easy to see why fan-favourite Kevin has returned to fight another day.
McDonald’s is once again running their Christmas Eve ‘reindeer treats’ special, and their Christmas ad uses it as a focus again, this time in an animated ad that turns into a live-action spot at the last moment.
You didn’t think we’d forget Argos, did you? The ‘Book of Dreams’ ad features Scotland’s own Simple Minds in a cool, unique vid you won’t want to end. By turns hilarious (a big guy on a tiny drum kit!) and nostalgic (her sweet unicorn slippers!), this might be my favourite ad of the festive season… at least so far:
There are still more ads to come, of course: Coke’s latest hasn’t dropped yet, and there will probably be a few last-minute surprises, too. But if you can’t get enough Christmas content, be sure to check out our round-up of 2018 and 2017 festive ads!