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Our Favourite Christmas Advertising Campaigns of 2018

05 Dec 19:00 by Tony Allen

Kevin the Carrot and other great Christmas Ad campaigns for 2018.

In a previous blog post, we discussed Iceland’s Christmas advert which never made it to our television screens due to it being too political on its stance on the use of palm oil in products. At the time of writing that post, we were still eagerly awaiting the John Lewis advert to drop, and other big retailers were remaining tight-lipped about their seasonal showcases. However, fast-forward to the first week of December and Christmas is in full-swing in ad-land! From human plugs to a near carrot catastrophe, we run down our top Christmas picks for 2018.

The boy and the piano


Let’s address the most hotly anticipated festive ad of the year: John Lewis’s big-budget Elton John extravaganza which takes a nostalgic look back, Benjamin Button-style, through the singer’s life. While Kantar Millward Brown’s annual survey of the year's biggest Christmas ads revealed that people found it lacked relevance and credibility, we enjoyed this outing from Adam & Eve/DDB and thought it lived up to the hype surrounding its premiere.

Kevin the Carrot leaves us hanging


The internet collectively lost its cool when Aldi released its Coca-Cola spoof featuring Kevin the Carrot and a (literal) cliffhanger, complete with the hashtag #savekevin. Were they really going to kill off arguably the most popular Christmas character from the last three years? McCann UK certainly knew how to ruffle some feathers, and there have since been some fairy tale follow-ups featuring the lovable vegetable and his family, but our favourite was the one that kicked them all off. 

Two words: The plug


Sainsbury’s was one of the first big brands to debut their Christmas advert this year, and they did it with a bang thanks to their all-singing, all-dancing school production theme. There’s a LOT of festivity in this creative offering from Wieden & Kennedy, from dancing turkeys to a boy dressed as a plug performing an epic jump into a socket. Despite recent controversy surrounding the plug scene and how it might prompt children to play with sockets, this ad performed highly on "enjoyment" and "brand love" in the Kantar survey. We certainly got that fuzzy festive feeling.

Have you seen Santa?


A surprise hit for us this year came from Specsavers, which was not only impressive due to the fact it was created in-house by Specsavers’ film-makers Lenny Lenfesty and Kristin Rathje, but also because it captured real heart. The series of adverts feature real primary school children describing their experiences of seeing Santa, with the accompanying line 'Never seen Santa? Should've gone to Specsavers'. It might not be the one everyone’s talking about, but we loved the simplicity and the fact that they got it done on a shoestring budget!

Love is a Gift


Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a certain viral advert that wasn’t actually created for any brand at all. Yes, we’re talking about the emotional short film that was famously created for just £50 by filmmaker Phil Beastall. Shot back in 2014 but only released after John Lewis shared their Christmas outing, Love is a Gift tug at the heartstrings and serves as a reminder of what Christmas is all about.

YouTube viewer rankings*

  • John Lewis & Partners Christmas Ad 2018 - #EltonJohnLewis - 11,616,163

  • The Big Night | Sainsbury's Ad | Christmas 2018 - 4,271,007 views

  • LOVE IS A GIFT - Christmas Short Film - 1,645,102 views

  • Aldi Kevin the Carrot Christmas Cliff Hanger Advert - 1,529,075 views

  • When I saw Santa, I saw him in real life | Specsavers - 3,656 views

*Results taken 4th December from each brand’s official YouTube channel only.

Stay tuned to the Henry Nicholas blog for the latest news and insights from our team about all things creative.