The UK’s best Christmas Ads 2017- Branding & Storytelling

christmas adverts 2017 branding

Every year the Christmas ads from the top retailers in the UK are eagerly awaited, and this year is no exception. Just after Bonfire night, the first ones were released and now we can round up the best ones for 2017 below.

The most famous is John Lewis and is the one all the other retailers work hard to beat. Over the years John Lewis’s Christmas ads have built up quite a cult status and creates quite a build up to its launch both in the press and online.This year is no exception with #MozTheMonster.

This brand building format of Christmas ads has now spread to the other large Christmas retailers. Each retailer producing a Christmas ad that is based upon love, family or sharing. Or a combination. They don’t focus on a particular product or a benefit of shopping in their stores, it’s all about how they make you feel and trying to associate themselves with that warm fuzzy contented feeling Christmas is supposed to bring.

Take a look at the best of 2017 below and see how they are focused on storytelling to enhance their brand, whether short mini stories like Tesco or an epic multi-parter like Vodafone.

John Lewis Christmas Ad – #MozTheMonster


The daddy of the UK Christmas ads, John Lewis comes out strong in 2017 to make sure it holds on to its top spot. The £7m campaign, filmed by on Oscar-winning director and featuring music by Elbow.

Craig Inglis, John Lewis’s customer director, said: “This year’s Christmas campaign brings to life the power of children’s imaginations and the joy of great friendships. Moz and Joe’s story is magical and heartwarming.”

So what do you think? Is it good enough to hold on to the title of best Christmas Advert 2017?

Debenhams Christmas Ad – #YouShall Find your fairytale


This is my favourite this year. The retelling of the Cinderella story in a modern setting including social media. Again big budgets at play with the narrator role being played by Hollywood actor Ewan McGregor.

This year’s ad is a move away from the ‘Found it’ campaigns of recent years. This is very much inline with the current trend of brand building and storytelling that is prevalent in 2017 Christmas ads. Previous Debenhams ads have been very lacklustre in the emotional department but this one certainly comes back with a sparkle.

Great creativity, a bit of humour and a wonderful Christmassy feel.

Marks & Spencers Christmas Ad – Paddington & the Christmas visitor


In partnership with the recent release of Paddington Bear 2 movie, this ad captures the personality of Paddington and uses it thoughtfully to deliver a feel-good Christmas story. By associating your Brand with a well-known figure or personality makes it easier for people to understand your brand and what you stand for. Paddington Bear is a good all round nice bear and couple this with a film release and an iconic image, and you’ve got a sure-fire Christmas winner.

Vodafone Christmas Ad – Christmas Love Story


Vodafone this year have gone for the epic story. Spreading their advert over a series of mini advert episodes. It’s a traditional love story of boy meets girl, but of cause with the added modern-day problems of data and mobile reception thrown in.

It is a story, but not so subtle with the products. New phones, data and reception all play a part in the ‘will he, won’t she story’. It’s a bit twee, but anyone watching won’t mistake Vodafone for another mobile network provider.

Waitrose Christmas Ad – #ChristmasTogether


The Waitrose advert, filmed in Black & white this year focusses on family, friends and conversations. Set in the Tan Hill Inn near Richmond the locals get snowed into the pub with no way out. Deciding to come together to make the best of it they organise their own Christmas dinner only to be disturbed by some plucky family members bursting in through the door to rescue them.

Tan Hill Inn is famed for being snowed in and villagers have been snowed in some 50 times in the past 12 years.

The advert for me is quite cold. Personally, I don’t think the black and white treatment doesn’t works, and it looks like all the people are a bunch of rag-tag undesirables, stuck together and quite grumpy. Not a friendly heartwarming advert.

Tesco Christmas Ad – #EveryonesWelcome


Tesco put the Turkey at the centre of their campaign and the way different families treat it and value it. From the obligatory Turkey sandwich joke to bar-be-que-ing the Turkey outside. All angles are covered from the fun to the stress of cooking for 15 through to the 1 ‘helpful’ family member stating the obvious.

The Advert is easy to digest, showcases the diversity in family Christmas’s and is gentle and heart-warming at the same time. It definitely comes across as Tesco being the place to shop for every family.

Asda Christmas Ad – Best Christmas Ever


Asda’s advert is a magical mystery Christmas factory. A bit Willy Wonka meets England’s dark satanic mills. The story focusses on a girl and grandfather exploring the factory and witnessing how all the different special Christmas foods are made.

The advert doesn’t do it for me. Portraying Asda staff as Green Umpa-Lumpas is too much and it doesn’t really evoke any emotional connection to me.

Sainsbury’s Christmas Ad – #everybitofChristmas


A fun, high energy family friendly song is Sainsburys Christmas offering. Featuring real people from all across the UK, the advert is a montage of shots of people sings the Sainsbury’s Christmas song. The lyrics themselves sum up all the different aspects of family Christmas. And of course, there’s nothing like a family sing-song at Christmas to get you in the party mood.

Food pops up in the ad, but nothing blatantly advertising a particular dish. The ad is a feel-good sing-along that captures the Christmas spirit in an entertaining and uplifting way. Well done Sainsbury’s – thumbs up.

Boots Christmas Ad – #ShowThemYou Know them


Boots focus on their core market of women. Telling the story of 2 sisters and how they grow up together, the good times, the fallouts, the disagreements and how all of those experiences lead to the perfect present.

The ad is quite emotional and will resonate well with the core market. And a little humour at the end, with the usual joke about getting vouchers. Overall an excellent ad that again aligns the brand with understanding the viewer so you can be sure they will stock the perfect present for your family in their store.

House of Fraser Christmas Ad – Bring merry back


Just like the boots ad above (but not as good) the House of Fraser advert cast 2 sisters as the protagonists of the story. Showing the fun times Christmas was growing up the ad tries to encourage viewers to remember past Christmases and capture that fun again.

Look out for the old Christmas decorations on the walls and on the tree, plus the paper chains we used to make as kids to decorate the house at Christmas.

Again, no blatant selling of goods, just an advert trying to recreate a sense of fun at Christmas so viewers will associate House of Fraser with a fun Christmas and an understanding of Christmas is really about.

Barbour Christmas Ad – The Snowman and The Snowdog


The only animated advert in our list is the offering from Babour. Reprising the role of the smowman and the snowdog. The story is set in the future with the boy in the original tale, now grown up and having Children of his own. On Christmas Day the doorbell rings and there is the snowman at the door and as a present, he receives a lovely warm barbour jacket. Perfect for a cold snowman.

I love the Raymond Briggs animation style, hey – it inspired me to nag my parents for a set of professional colouring pencils when I was at school, so I could have a go at the same.

The style of animation and the heart-warming story really sums up Christmas as a warm, friendly and happy time of year. It certainly makes me think Barbour is a warm and friendly company.

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