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10 Christmas Campaigns That Left a Lasting Impression

10 Christmas Campaigns That Left a Lasting Impression

Christmas is coming. It'sone of the key dates in every eCommerce calendar, and each year, we're wowed by the campaigns that brands create.

In this blog, we will look at our favourite Christmas advertising campaigns in recent years and analyse how each left a lasting impression.

eBay – Give-a-Toy, 2011

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The campaign: eBay’s Christmas campaign took window shopping to a whole new level. Launching two interactive toy storefronts in New York and San Francisco, by scanning the tag of a 3D toy in the shop window a toy was instantly donated to a child in need.

Why we like it: Aside from the great charitable cause, we love how eBay truly embraced mobile’s rapidly-advancing capabilities. Cleverly instructing users to download their app, encouraging them to register, and scanning the tag to confirming payment; every step was performed through mobile. This initiative saw eBay’s mobile app downloads increase by 514%. Users could also donate without purchasing on the eBay site.It’s the interactivity and goodwill of this idea which made it so effective and secured its place on this list. And the real-time interactivity that saw the selected toy ‘come to life’ delighted the inner child in all of us.

The Spanish Lottery – Anuncio Lotería de Navidad, 2015

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The campaign: This Pixar-style animation from Spain follows Justino, a lonesome overnight security guard at a mannequin factory who passes the time by setting the mannequins up in poses for the factory's daytime staff to enjoy.

Why we like it: It’s a compelling piece of animation that’s really captured the imagination of the public, currently boasting nearly 18,000 shares a day. This makes it the third most shared video per day, behind big hitters John Lewis and Sainsbury’s - an exceptional result for such a comparatively small Spanish campaign. The Spanish Lottery branched into multi-channel territory, by creating an Instagram account for Justino - @justino_vigilante – where the narrative continues and users are invited to share and spread the story even further.

Harvey Nichols – GiftFace, 2015

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The campaign: This slightly cynical, albeit amusing video is all about that moment when you're confronted with a gift that is not quite what you were hoping for, prompting you to pull a superficially pleased face.

Why we like it: It’s far away from the sentimentality we’re used to with Christmas adverts, which makes for a refreshing change, naturally appealing to those that are slightly more cynical about the ‘most wonderful time of the year’.The tagline is excellent – ‘Avoid #GiftFace. Gift Harvey Nichols.’, neatly lending itself to social promotion and user-generated content.It’s simple, funny and has a clear message. With nearly 2,000 social shares per day, the campaign isn’t breaking any records compared to its competition, but it makes it in the top 10 for social sharing overall and, per day, it’s also just above M&S and Boots. If it manages to capture the attention of the social audience and/or gets the hashtag trending, then this could be the next festive phenomenon.

Born Free Foundation - #WildChristmas, 2015

Born Free Foundation image

The campaign: The charity has been promoting pictures of celebrities holding a placard featuring the hashtag #WildChristmas and the Born Free Twitter account, to raise awareness of wild animal suffering and threatened species.Supported by an online store, which is donating its proceeds, the key aim is to raise awareness of the cause and encourage users to give a little at Christmas.

Why we like it: Because it’s simple and effective. When you search the hashtag, visit the site or the Twitter account, you are met with pictures of UK celebrities holding their placard as well as suggestions to adopt an animal as a Christmas gift. The campaign cleverly utilises social media, undoubtedly the loudest platform on the internet, to amplify its message and, twinned with familiar faces, the potential exposure that the charity receives is huge.A campaign such as this shows that you don’t need huge amounts of money or resource to create a great campaign. Encouragingly, charity sites also have the lowest abandonment rates of all sectors (62%) so awareness and traffic generation is a key priority for the sector.

Asda – How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Vine, 2015

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The campaign: In this vine, a woman shows how to decorate a Christmas tree by throwing her decorations at a tree. Miraculously, they all fall into place perfectly.

Why we like it: Much like some of our previous mentioned, the brilliance of this campaign stems from its simplicity, and the popularity of vine videos. This vine is based on the ‘magic’ vines of other users like Zach King, and at time of writing has been looped over 300,000 times, viewed over 2 million times on Facebook and has reached nearly five million people’s newsfeeds. It’s clever, it’s funny and it shows how powerful the combination of a short, easily digestible video and social can be in spreading brand awareness.

John Lewis – Monty the Penguin, 2014

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The campaign: This TV advert follows the unlikely friendship between a young boy and Monty the penguin, who is brought to life through the power of imagination. It was supported with a strong multi-channel campaign that featured merchandising, programmatic advertising and a soundtrack that ranked highly in the UK charts.

Why we like it: It’s so much more than a great TV ad. In fact, the retailer opted to preview its £1m ad on digital channels YouTube and Twitter first, ahead of its TV debut over the weekend, enforcing its omni-channel focus and harnessing the power that social media has to drive popularity.The store also created ‘Monty’s Magical Toy Machine’ in its Oxford Street branch, where the public could scan children’s toys (including Monty himself), render them in 3D and interact with them on screen as a moving 3D image. In addition, John Lewis stores packed their shelves with Monty the Penguin stuffed toys, which sold out in under 24 hours. To be able to bring an online advert into the bricks and mortar stage of the user journey is really impressive.The Monty campaign saw a 903% increase in online brand consumption for John Lewis and currently has more than 25.5 million hits on YouTube.

Oddbins – What the Fox?, 2015

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The campaign: In this video, a grumpy shopper is abducted by a fox who whisks him away to a hidden Christmas fox grotto.

Why we like it: It’s positive, it’s funny and it’s original. All this and it took a meagre (well, relative to our other campaigns) £10,000 to make, compared to John Lewis’ whopping £1 million video spend.A wry play on words with a risqué edge, an offbeat message and a quirky style is a great way to capture an alternative viewpoint of Christmas, lending itself neatly to alcohol retailers. Oddbins additionally go the extra mile by incorporating competition into their campaign - if customers can come up with a ‘Crazy Like a Fox tasting note’ online then they could win online vouchers or bottles of wine. In-store, there are also foxes on select items that if found could win customers £20 worth of beer.Sometimes to succeed, you need to stand out, and this advert certainly achieves that by being different, amusing and creative – well-played Oddbins.

Currys PC World – Spare the Act, 2015

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The campaign: With a similar style to #GiftFace, this campaign comprises of five individual ads featuring awkward festive scenarios where people struggle to hide their disappointment at festive faux pas’, such as receiving an unwanted gift. The inimitable Jeff Goldblum is on hand to teach them how to hide this emotion and feign delight.

Why we like it: Apart from the brilliantly dry humour, the ad’s message is clear and effective -buy your Christmas presents from Currys PC World and you won’t have to suffer these awkward festive moments.Combining a beloved celebrity with typically British humour and a multi-channel promotion through television, cinema, radio, print, video on demand, online and social media; the £10 million campaign has proven a hit, with500,000 YouTube views over the 5 videos within 3 weeks. It’s performing well on social media, with positive sentiment around the ads themselves and a strong promoted budget spend on Twitter.

Topshop – Dear Topshop, 2013

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The campaign: To let others know what they want for Christmas, users are encouraged to pin products from the Topshop website onto their Pinterest board, with the idea that friends and family can then view and purchase their wish list. Users were able to shop for items on giant touchscreens in flagship stores and via the site, mobile platforms and Topshop apps.

Why we like it: Linking a campaign to social media is always an effective strategy and Topshop’s partnership with Pinterest was a great decision. The addition of a competition element, allowing users to win shopping sprees and London Fashion Week tickets, is another great way to leverage social media and draw an audience.With 68.2% of Pinterest comprised of women and 48.8% aged 12-34, Topshop could very accurately target their audience. Pinterest is also a very visual and simple platform, perfect for advertising their products.

Sainsbury’s - WW1 campaign, 2014

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The campaign: This touching ad recreates the famous ‘Christmas Day Truce’ during World War 1, when opposing German and British forces ceased fighting to socialize and play football together.

Why we like it: Despite receiving some criticism for commercialising this historical event, the tear-jerker ad became an instant hit online and was a popular talking point social media. It was even more apt, as it coincided with the 100 years commemoration of the start of the Great War.Likely expecting there to be a slight backlash around this tie-in product, Sainsbury’s took the smart move of donating all sales of the chocolate bar that was shown in the ad to the Royal British Legion, with an estimate of 5,000 sold hourly.


We hope you enjoyed our festive advert wrap-up. We felt that all of these campaigns left a lasting impression as they were clearly well-considered, creatively ambitious and executed across the right channels at the right time. We’re intrigued to see what the next wave of Christmas adverts will bring...

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Posted by Kate Rogerson & Ellie Hubble

Ellie and Kate are both copywriters interested in technology, automation and digital marketing.