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Our 2019 LITTLE Christmas Ad Roundup

Image credit: Very/John Lewis/Sainsbury’s

Singing parcels, unimpressed ornaments and Robbie Williams cameoing as a carrot. Welcome to the state of Christmas advertising in 2019!

You’re probably thinking “Oh, here we go, here are 10 minutes of brown-nosing every advert that’s graced our screens this year.”

Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, we’ve actually been pretty brutal this year – even if we’re all in agreement that Excitable Edgar is the best character ever to grace this sorry planet.

Myself, Lucy and Anna sat down and watched 12 (nice Christmassy number) of the adverts that have been doing the rounds in 2019, and delivered our honest verdicts. We’ve rated each advert in turkeys (with five turkeys being the best, and vice versa).

Read on to watch the adverts for yourself and to find out which one we crowned as 2019’s champion:

1. John Lewis: Melting hearts everywhere



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Poor Edgar, he just wants to be a part of Christmas, but every time he tries it goes up in, literal, flames. 

An age-old tale of freakish outcast overcoming diversity to become a member of the crew, John Lewis succeeded in pulling heartstrings, and it’s definitely one of this year’s best. 

You can burn my tree down any time Edgar. 

Josh: 

That bloody adorable purple scarf he wears around his nose during the unveiling of the town Christmas tree; it’s simply brilliant.

I’ve always been sceptical of the John Lewis adverts over the years, usually branding them as incredibly overrated (Moz the Monster was absolute dirt), but this year they’ve definitely won me over with a heartwarming tale of Edgar and his over-excitement for anything Christmas-related.

P.S. Bastille’s Dan Smith also does a great job covering REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t Stop This Feeling Anymore’.

Lucy: 

Put it this way, I never thought that a dragon setting fire to a Christmas Pudding would break my heart, but here we are. 

I can’t fight this feeling anymore – I would literally die for Edgar, the over-excited star of this year’s John Lewis advert. All he wants to do is enjoy Christmas! I even felt that sorry for him that I was sucked in by John Lewis’ marketing techniques, and now own an Edgar of my own. 

After a few disappointing years from John Lewis (don’t even get me started on last year’s ‘efforts‘), they’ve certainly bounced back this year.  

2. Not-so-amazing Amazon



Our rating: 🦃

Anna: 

The advert opens on a small piano-playing child singing with a lisp. Instant suspicion hits about how terrible this advert is about to be. And Amazon does not disappoint. 

Awkward train romances are coupled with irritating singing boxes, and a blatant attempt at emotional blackmail; an overworked Amazon delivery driver returning to her kids for Christmas. 

Maybe if you’d ease up on the hours, Amazon, she wouldn’t be so surprised to see her kids…

Josh: 

“Everybodyyyy, should treat their staff properly” – This 90-second yawn-fest portrays an unrealistic view of what the typical Amazon employee probably goes through on a daily basis. Not Christmassy enough, and not memorable whatsoever. 

Next.

Lucy:

At first, I thought I liked this year’s Amazon ad. But then I realised, I only like the song.

Amazon has resurrected its singing parcels for this year’s adverts. Nothing has really changed, except the packages are singing Solomon Burke’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’. 

Honestly? There’s nothing ‘Christmassy’ about this ad – apart from a token Christmas tree and a few baubles. No wonder I have a lack of Christmas cheer this year…

3. IKEA: Silence the harshest critics



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Silence the critics, and strange rapping ornaments with IKEA this Christmas. 

IKEA’s ad is… Different, and definitely leaves a mark. However, it lacks a certain something extra, and the grime-style rapping doesn’t really give you that “Christmas is coming” feeling. 

Sorry IKEA.

Josh: 

Hilarious and quite frankly underrated. Grime legend D Double E has created an absolute belter for this year’s IKEA Christmas ad, urging a lacklustre family to sort out their gaff for Christmas. Apart from the fact that it isn’t exceptionally Christmassy, it’s perfect.

Lucy:

This year’s IKEA ad is less about silencing the critics, and more about silencing judgemental ornaments. We joked that it was “that bad it’s good” – but it’s fresh and fun. I’m a fan. 

Sure, it may not be very, very, very, very, very, very Christmassy – but a rapping t-rex will always have my vote.

4. Aldi: “Is that Robbie Williams?”



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

A Frankenstein’s monster mishmash of Peaky Blinders, The Greatest Showman and a butchered Robbie Williams classic. 

The colourful animation and playful characters save Aldis advert from being a complete turkey, but it feels like a desperate grab at pop culture favourites to seem ‘relevant’. And even the most inexperienced Christmas ad viewer knows the truth, Christmas is never about relevance, it’s about nostalgia. 

Josh: 

I’m really torn with this one. I hate it so much, but I know that everyone loves it, so I respect it in some kind of weird way. Kind of like Wes Mantooth and Ron Burgundy.

When I saw the promotional adverts for this one, I thought “Great, Leafy Blinders, Peaky Blinders. I can get on board with this.” then when it wasn’t about that, I saw the Greatest Showman theme emerge and thought “Okay, a couple of decent tunes in that film let’s have it.” 

BUT NO, it’s Robbie Williams pretending to be a carrot singing about mince pies and cream? 

Forget it.

Lucy:

I’m pretty sure when McCann was discussing this year’s Aldi advert, the conversation went something like this…

“What’s relevant this year, guys?”

“Peaky Blinders, The Greatest Showman… have you heard Robbie Williams needs work?” 

And ta-da, Kevin’s latest outing was born. I didn’t mind it at first, but then I realised how strange it was. A sprout with a vendetta against a carrot? They’re right; it will be hanging around all Christmas.

5. Don’t even get us started on Asda



Our rating: 🦃

Anna: 

Two unchecked youths parade around town wielding a reckless amount of Christmas magic, turning innocent citizens into snowmen, their homes into confectionary and the streets a giant-bauble bloodbath. 

It’s a no from me. 

Josh: 

So, you’ve stolen your (presumably deceased) Grandad’s old walking stick, along with other miscellaneous house items, created some weird device to catch some northern lights dust, and ran around town chucking said dust everywhere? This doesn’t scream Christmas; it screams immediate ASBOs for both of them.

All jokes aside, I understand what they’re trying to do, and while I do typically prefer a Christmas advert that takes place at night, the whole thing is just weird.

Lucy:

Ah, because nothing says ‘hypocrisy’ like creating an ad about making Christmas’ Extra Special’, knowing that there are more redundancies in the pipeline, does it, Asda?

Hypocrisy aside, there’s something very… underwhelming about this year’s effort from Asda. The sweetness of this year’s story – two siblings capturing (and sharing) the magic of Christmas – is laid on that thick that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Sorry Asda, I’m not a fan.

6. Is that a Very advert?



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Easy viewing. A street comes together to make one old man feel a little less lonely on Christmas. 

Is it a sweet message? Yes. 

Have Very reached for the stars, stretching their creative capacity beyond human reason? Nope. 

It’s OKAY.   

Josh: 

Simple, not incredibly original, but it works! I like this one a lot, not only because it samples an absolute banger in Rudimental’s ‘Feel The Love’, it encompasses a heartwarming theme without being too daring or controversial.

Lucy:

When I first saw the Very advert, I only stopped to watch it because of the small dog (I see a theme emerging)… 

Anyway, fast-forward forty seconds, and my heart was suitably warmed. Sure, Very have played it safe, but the emerging themes of community, gift-giving and coming together at Christmas resonated with me. 

Well played, Very, well played.  

7. Hang on – did Sainsbury’s invent Santa Claus?



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna:

Sainsbury’s dives for the ye-olde Dickensian heartstrings with an orphan-centric tale of triumph over injustice, and also the possible origin story of Father Christmas… What? 

Most notably, the villain of the piece is a Fagin-esque maniac that eats oranges. Without. Peeling. Them. 

Clearly, he is a monster, a fruit anarchist with ZERO respect and dignity. Oh, and the child labour thing is also questionable. 

Fun, well-executed and memorable. I really enjoyed this one.  

Josh:

Why did he eat a full orange without peeling it? Anyway, Nicholas the Sweep is well-executed Christmas advert that is littered with puns (look out for the ‘zero emissions’ sign on Mrs Sainsbury’s carriage) and while it won’t go down as one of the best ever made (they were never going to top Plug Boy in 2018), I enjoyed watching it.

Claiming to invent Santa Claus is a bit bold though Sainsbury’s, bloody hell.

Lucy:

Oh dear. The #PlugLife definitely didn’t choose Sainsbury’s this year.

I was honestly expecting better from Sainsbury’s this year – they’re riding high on their 150th anniversary, after all. Instead, they take us way back to when it all began, emphasising child labour, exploitation, and a cameo appearance from Little Saint Nick (literally).

Another supermarket, another disappointment.

8. More reindeer treats please, McDonald’s



Our rating: 🦃🦃

Anna: 

McDonald’s goes for an angle that anyone with siblings will immediately be able to sympathise with; ruining it for your younger, annoying sibling. Unfortunately, they decide to backtrack and turn it into a tale of sisterly support and chicken McNuggets. Shame.  

Josh: 

A nice story, so why did I feel sad the whole time watching it? I get what it’s supposed to be about, but I just didn’t feel particularly drawn in. The dog is cool, and I can’t fault the animation, but why didn’t the older sister just ask for some McNuggets the first time they went around the drive-thru? 

What an absolute pain in the arse having to go round again…

Lucy:

Being an only child, the older/younger sibling dynamic is lost on me in this year’s effort from McDonald’s. 

Ultimately, the only thing that kept me engaged was an adorable animated reindeer, which made the ‘big reveal’ at the end at bit underwhelming. For me, it didn’t make me feel anything – but I’m sure other people will see it differently.

9. Where’s Mrs C, Barbour?



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Barbours ad features a grumpy Father Christmas who relies on his Barbour jacket to see him through the season. Nice animation, a good script, but it feels oddly off-brand for the luxury fashion house. 

A solid OKAY. 

Josh: 

Love the animation and the nostalgic style of this one – it’s a well-known fact that Christmas Eve is better than Christmas Day so this one really appealed to me. But, is Mrs Claus dead? Why? Why do that to us?

Also, the fact that Santa lives in a semi-detached three bed in London (judging by his accent) kind of ruins the magic of Christmas a bit.

Lucy:

I actually really like Barbour’s Christmas ad this year. A heritage character combined with a heritage brand – what’s not to love? Sure, it may not tug at the heartstrings, or give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, but it does the job.

I just wish they hadn’t implied that Mrs C was no longer with us…

10. Find Visa Somebody to Love



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

The message behind Visa’s Christmas ad is great; spread the money around, don’t put all your eggs in an Amazon shaped basket and call it a day – there are real people out there, you know. 

But, alternate opinion, had any of these vendors considered that the dated and untidy state of their stores is the reason for their lack of success? Meh.  

Josh: 

Absolutely no-one can sing in this advert, but I quite like that. It’s like when they used to get all the rubbish ones from the X-Factor auditions back for the final to absolutely butcher a song.

The demise of the British high street is something that is quite sad (cheers Amazon), so the idea is solid. Maybe I will nip into some independent shops this Christmas.

Lucy:

It seems ironic to include both Amazon and Visa in this list, as Visa definitely want to pull people away from the convenience of a certain eCommerce giant in favour of convincing you to visit those independent shops you definitely follow on Instagram but have never stepped foot in.

Maybe that will change this Christmas – who knows?

11. Don’t You (Forget about Argos this Christmas)



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Possibly the best of them all in my opinion, the Argos ad embraces the fun of Christmas and the playful side of parents and children, with subtle nostalgic undertones: circling your favourite toys in the long-awaited Argos catalogue, and Simple Minds, Don’t You (Forget About Me), forming the soundtrack. 

Love it.

Josh: 

Argos have absolutely nailed it this year. It’s funny, it’s relevant, and it doesn’t make you cry. Just a bloke and his daughter shredding the drums in the kitchen, you can’t beat it; who cares if it’s past her bedtime?

Circling stuff in the Argos catalogue before Christmas was certainly a staple of my childhood, so this one is particularly special. 

Could be the best one of them all, actually.

Lucy:

Argos play the nostalgia card this year, and I am LIVING FOR IT. 

Featuring fond memories that any 90s child will hold dear – dropping your parents’ not-so-subtle hints at what you wanted for Christmas courtesy of the Argos catalogue – are brought to the forefront of this year’s ad. 

With a killer soundtrack to boot, there’s no way I’ll be forgetting about this year’s Argos ad any time soon – they’ve managed to pull something special out of the catalogue.

12. This isn’t just any food advert…



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

The M&S advert isn’t genius and doesn’t even ATTEMPT to make you cry, but it does the job. M&S puts its food in the spotlight, and cheesy cliches are left on the sidelines to make room for… Well, actual cheese. 

By the time the advert had come to an end, I knew one thing: I wanted to eat that delicious cheese and would pay M&S prices for the pleasure. 

Hell, I’d even consider a turkey. 

Success. 

Josh: 

This one has got a lot of stick this year. Even the YouTube comments absolutely destroy it. It’s nothing special, but I do like the Christmassy scene and music, and M&S have managed to again do what other supermarkets have consistently failed to do for so many years; made their food look really nice.

Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis don’t exactly do much, but I don’t think this advert is as bad as people suggest.

Lucy:

I think the big supermarkets could learn a lot from M&S Food’s Christmas ad this year. All you really need to do is showcase the food, because, ultimately, it’s all we’re bothered about anyway. Sure, the setting is lovely (the snow is falling, and children are singing), but Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis don’t add anything to it. 

Honestly? The only thing I’m thinking about by the time it’s over is that Brie En Crûte.

So, who was 2019’s big winner?

This was a tough one. For us, the two favourites were easily John Lewis and Argos, and after much deliberation in the studio, we’ve come to the conclusion that Edgar is simply too adorable to ignore. So, while sounding incredibly cliché, this year’s Christmas advert winner is:

⭐️⭐️⭐️JOHN LEWIS⭐️⭐️⭐️

Credit: John Lewis

But do they compare to our all-time favourites?

Everyone’s got that one Christmas advert that they’ll always remember as their most treasured. From the heartwarming to the downright tragic, there’s always something for everyone. Here are the three adverts that have resonated with us the most over the years:

Anna’s Favourite: Sainsbury’s 2014




This is the ad that always springs to mind when I think of Christmas advertising. Five years on, and this ad is still entirely relevant, telling a tale of humanity, friendship without borders, charity and peace.
Based on a true story of a Christmas truce between English and German soldiers in WWI, Sainsbury’s took an incredibly moving real-world event and brought it to life.

It has the power to make you cry, smile and believe just a little bit more in humanity.

This is a Christmas ad that will stand the test of time, and is, in my opinion, unbeaten.

Josh’s Favourite: McDonald’s 2010

“A feeeeestive deluxe meal, la la la la la fries, what drink? A chicken and bacon supreme with a ba na na na na na na na milkshake, cheese melt dippers with bags of ketchup, sweet and sour for me please, a Terry’s Chocolate Orange McFlurry and A Feeeeestive Pie.” BANGER. YOU HAVE NOT SEEN LYRICISM LIKE THIS SINCE TUPAC SHAKUR I TELL YOU.

Quick, cheerful and memorable for the last nine years. I will always draw on this advert when asked about my favourite. McDonald’s 2010 marketing team, I take my hat off to you.

Lucy’s Favourite: John Lewis 2014




As my favourite ads from this year have proven, I have a penchant for cute characters that melt my heart – which is probably why John Lewis’ 2014 Christmas Advert, featuring Monty the forlorn penguin, is one of my all-time favourites.
Everything about it – from Tom Odell’s rendition of ‘Real Love’ to Monty and Mabel living happily ever after – gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. More importantly, it’s memorable – every year, I find myself asking “but does it beat Monty the Penguin?”.

With the exception of this year, nothing has come close.

Summary

As another year flies by where brands big and small pretend that they actually care about the spirit of Christmas in their advertising efforts to get you to give them all of your hard-earned money (Yes John Lewis, we’re looking at you, you literally don’t exist throughout the rest of the year), we can’t help but be drawn in yet again by some brilliant narratives. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Have we missed out your favourite Christmas advert? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

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