Lightbox Loves: The future of Christmas Ads?

With the smell of mulled wine and mince pies getting stronger, Christmas will soon be with us. Whilst many vent their frustration with the ever earlier festivities, the launch of the year’s Christmas ads still seems universally loved.

Hotly anticipated every year is John Lewis. Their £7 million ad showcasing Elton John’s biographic, certainly delivered this year. True to form, it was an emotionally charged piece, showing that ‘some gifts are more than just a gift’ as we follow Elton John, Benjamin Button style, from present day to receiving his first gift as a child, a piano. A piano that started his spectacular career.

It’s not new news to say that Nov/Dec advertising is extremely competitive, and during a time where every brand is pushing similar messages, there’s a risk of consumers becoming emotionally numb to ads. A recent report from Retail Gazette hints towards this, reporting that John Lewis sales are down 1.6% year-on-year. Given this, there could be an argument for brands to take a different approach.

M&S seem to think so. This year, “M&S has decided to ditch blockbuster ads for a digital first campaign”. M&S’ marketing director Nathan Ansell is taking advantage of new routes to purchase, saying it’s “about moving into things like Instagram shopping [and] Google Shopping”, taking a fresh approach to reaching customers.

Another new approach this year comes in the form of brand’s cross promoting each other. Taking themselves less seriously and getting in the festive spirit. Aldi & Coca Cola, M&S and Sainsbury’s to name two examples, are happy to like share and interact with each other’s campaigns.


Yet another tact comes from Iceland. At a time of mass consumerism, the brand used their Christmas showpiece to share sage advice and warn against the dangers of Palm Oil. A fantastic message helped by a controversial ban sent the social chatter rocketing. Iceland and associated conversation reached a huge 65K mentions on the day of going live, with JL achieving shy of this, with 50k mentions despite having the benefit of being on TV.

John Lewis lead the emotive brand ad charge this year, but there are some competitors taking different tact’s, much to the public’s enjoyment. This behaviour could pave the way for some innovative ads in future Christmas seasons, though the public might start to miss the big emotional splashes made by brands every November. What can be guaranteed, is that regardless of the approach, Christmas ads will continue to be eagerly anticipated and reviewed with great vigour.