It’s that time of year again – all the big brands have started to release their dazzling Christmas ads and we couldn’t be more excited. From the tear-jerkers to the pure festive fun bangers, we’ve carefully reviewed them all and now it’s time to rank them from worst to best. Which ad will win the prestigious title of dmt’s Best Christmas Advert of the Year? Read on to find out…
John Lewis – “Unexpected Guest”
There’s no doubt about it – the John Lewis Christmas ad is usually the most highly anticipated Christmas ad of the year. They’ve moved us to tears year after year with timeless classics like The Bear and the Hare and Monty the Penguin, but, quite frankly, this year’s attempt is shockingly poor.
The advert, titled Unexpected Guest, depicts the relationship between a young boy and an alien girl he finds in the woods after her spaceship crashes. The girl is oblivious to the joys of Christmas traditions, so the boy introduces her to Christmas trees, mince pies, snowballs, and more while she fixes her ship. Eventually, the ship is repaired and she must return to her own planet. The boy gives her the Christmas jumper he was wearing when they first met, and she gives him a kiss before disappearing into the night sky. Text appears on the screen that reads “For a Christmas as magical as your first… John Lewis & Partners”.
Honestly, where to even begin with this. We understand the sentiment, but the ad completely fails to create any kind of emotional impact. We’ve only just finished watching it and have already started to forget about it. It’s with a heavy heart that we must declare this Christmas ad as not just one of the worst John Lewis has ever done, but one of the worst of the entire year.
Tears shed: 0/10 Even the depressing cover of Together in Electric Dreams just didn’t do it for us.
Originality: 2/10 We’ve only even given them a 2 out of sympathy honestly.
Fun: 1/10 As fun as a plate of Brussels Sprouts on Christmas Day.
M&S – “Make the Season Anything but Ordinary”
We’re not sure M&S are known for having super memorable Christmas adverts so we’ll cut them some slack, but only one word comes to mind after watching this for the first time: meh.
There isn’t much of a story to this one (though that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing): the ad shows a woman dancing around in various festive settings as upbeat Christmassy music plays in the background. It ends with the woman sitting on a sofa with her family in matching pyjamas as the slogan “Make the season anything but ordinary” appears on the screen.
We’ve got to give it to them, they’ve definitely created an advert here that is pure festive fun. It does make you feel good, but there’s just very little that stands out. It’s the epitome of a generic Christmas ad, just exactly what you’d expect and nothing more.
Tears shed: 0/10 Clearly not intended to be a tear-jerker and that’s okay!
Originality: 1/10 Bold of them to use the slogan “Make the season anything but ordinary” in the most absolutely ordinary Christmas ad we’ve ever seen.
Fun: 6/10 As fun as hearing Mariah Carey’s Christmas classic All I Want For Christmas Is You for the second time in a row. It’s still enjoyable, but you know if it starts playing a third time you’re probably going to get sick of it.
Sainsbury’s – “A Christmas to Savour”
A pretty solid effort from Sainsbury’s this year. Simple, yet effective. Sainsbury’s have always been on it with creating memorable Christmas ads (we’re sure you’ll recall Mog’s Christmas Calamity and Christmas 1914) and while this isn’t their best by a long shot, we still thoroughly enjoyed it.
The ad leans into the fact that this is the first Christmas we’ll be able to enjoy with friends and family since the pandemic started, encouraging us to savour every moment. It takes us through a Christmas scene in slow motion while Etta James’ classic At Last plays in the background. We see corks being popped, gravy being poured, songs being sung, and many more lovely festive activities that give you that warm fuzzy feeling. The soothing voice of Stephen Fry comes in at the end to announce “It’s been a long time coming, so let’s make it a Christmas to savour”.
Despite its simplicity, this Christmas ad does a great job of capturing that festive feeling and has a really lovely message. Alas, its biggest downfall is probably the fact that we just expect more from Sainsbury’s at this point, and by comparison, it feels a little bit low effort.
Tears shed: 2/10 Not a tear-jerker, but the thought of properly seeing family and friends for Christmas Day again does make us a bit emotional.
Originality: 6/10 It’s a simple concept but it certainly stands out from a lot of this year’s competition.
Fun: 5/10 As fun as going Christmas shopping and having a good time but not actually buying any presents. Now you’ll have to go out again tomorrow to actually buy presents, which is a little bit of a pain, tbh.
McDonald’s – “Imaginary Iggy”
We have to admit we weren’t expecting the most heart-wrenching Christmas advert of the year to come from McDonald’s, but here we are.
The ad begins by showing a little girl, Matilda, creating her imaginary friend, a little blue creature who she names Iggy. They spend all their time together until Matilda grows up and hides Iggy away in the closet. However, when an adult Matilda pays a visit to a certain fast-food restaurant and sees a little boy feeding carrot sticks to his imaginary friend, she is reminded of Iggy. She rushes home and opens the closet to find that Iggy had been waiting there for her all that time, and the two are finally reunited to spend another Christmas together.
Not going to lie, we definitely cried a little bit. Who isn’t a sucker for a sad, funny-looking little creature in a Christmas ad? It’s not the most original advert, but it’s certainly effective.
Tears shed: 6/10 A single Chris Pine tear.
Originality: 3/10 Look, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. That doesn’t mean we won’t eat it up though.
Fun: 3/10 As fun as spending Christmas Day with distant relatives who you don’t know very well.
Boots – “Bags of Joy”
This year’s Christmas advert from Boots has everything you want from a Christmas ad: it’s fun, it’s different, and it’s a little bit of a tear-jerker.
The ad stars actress Jenna Coleman as Joy, a young woman whose Nan gives her a magical bag that contains endless gifts. We see her spreading the joy by handing out gifts to her friends at a big festive party and to her family on Christmas Day, before finally gifting a bottle of perfume to her Nan. Her Nan reads out the label on the bottle: “This is what love smells like.” Joy whispers “I love you” to her Nan, and they give each other a teary-eyed hug.
It’s a very enjoyable Christmas ad, but it’s just not super memorable. It certainly put us in the festive mood though and, in all honesty, we did tear up a little bit at the end.
Tears shed: 6/10 An emotional ending that made us really want to go give our Nans a hug.
Originality: 5/10 It certainly stands out from the rest of this year’s ads, but it’s not the most memorable.
Fun: 6/10 As fun as watching Elf on TV for the first time all year.
Tesco – “This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us”
This Christmas advert has one key message: nothing can stop the nation from enjoying this year’s festivities after the disappointment of last year.
In this super fun advert set to Queen’s upbeat Don’t Stop Me Now, we witness various merrymakers overcoming all the obstacles that are thrown at them, proving that nothing will prevent them from having an incredible Christmas. From an office party overcoming the bulbs blowing by lighting the room with a row of Christmas Puddings, to Santa overcoming travel restrictions by showing his Covid Passport at border control, nobody lets any setbacks ruin their festive joy.
Not only is this Christmas ad pure festive fun, but its message definitely resonates with the whole nation after the shambolic Christmas we all had to endure last year. Christmas finally feels like Christmas again, and Tesco has captured it perfectly this year.
Tears shed: 1/10 This definitely falls under the category of fun Christmas ads rather than sad Christmas ads.
Originality: 7/10 No other supermarket could be bold enough to depict a fully vaccinated Santa, sparking calls to #BoycottTesco from anti-vaxxers on Twitter.
Fun: 7/10 As fun as drinking a hot cup of mulled wine with friends at the Christmas markets.
Disney – “The Stepdad”
Of course Disney was going to hit us with another tear-jerker this year. None of us expected anything less from the brand that has made us sob with films like Inside Out, Up, Toy Story 3, Bambi… the list goes on.
This year’s Christmas advert follows Nicole, the granddaughter from last year’s ad, and her two children as their new stepdad, Mike, moves into their family home. At the centre of the narrative is a storybook belonging to the oldest child, Max, from his birth father. This magical storybook shows beautiful Disney animations springing to life from the pages, celebrating the power of storytelling and how it brings families together.
The super emotional advert takes us on a journey with Mike as he tries to win the affection of the children, and ultimately celebrates the importance of love and family.
Tears shed: 7/10 All we can say is F U, Gregory Porter.
Originality: 5/10 It’s not the most original Christmas ad we’ve ever seen, but we have to admire the mesmerising animation and Disney’s attempt to be more inclusive.
Fun: 5/10 As fun as stuffing yourself with delicious food on Christmas Day, but then having a stomach ache for the rest of the afternoon.
Barbour – “Please Look After This Bear”
Barbour’s Christmas advert featuring Paddington Bear is probably the most charming and nostalgic of the year.
Using the original illustration style from Peggy Fortnum, the ad follows Paddington as he gets his Christmas gifts ready for his family. He suddenly realises there’s one very special person he hasn’t found a present for yet: Mr Brown. Paddington notices photos of Mr Brown wearing his Barbour jacket throughout the years and decides he will re-wax it, making a mess of the kitchen in the process in classic Paddington style. On Christmas Day, he gives Mr Brown the newly re-waxed jacket with a message that reads “thank you for looking after me”, on the back of the “please look after this bear” tag that was attached to Paddington’s neck when Mr Brown first found him. Mr Brown looks lovingly at Paddington and says “This jacket’s part of the family, just like you are, Paddington.”
This one definitely made us shed a tear or two, but we are huge Paddington fans so that’s not surprising. The best part of this ad has to be the beautiful animation in the original Paddington illustration style, which is so nostalgic and joyful. There are very few Christmas ads this year that could top this one.
Tears shed: 7/10 So wholesome. We love you, Paddington.
Originality: 6/10 The beautiful animation makes this Christmas ad stand out massively from the rest.
Fun: 6/10 As fun as a snowball fight on Christmas Day.
Aldi – “A Christmas Carrot”
Festive ads don’t get much better than this year’s masterpiece from Aldi, featuring the iconic Kevin the Carrot who we’ve all grown to know and love.
In this charming retelling of A Christmas Carol, Kevin pays a visit to the Christmas-hating Ebanana Scrooge and shows him just how magical Christmas can be. They meet various vegetable-themed characters along the way, including Marcus Radishford (voiced by Marcus Rashford, of course), and ultimately Ebanana realises the error of his ways.
The whole advert is funny, heartwarming, and fun, but the best part has got to be Cuthbert the caterpillar getting arrested in the background, in reference to this year’s hilarious feud between Aldi and M&S. Aldi has well and truly won this round!
Tears shed: 1/10 We love Aldi for always bringing the pure festive fun and not trying to make us bawl our eyes out on Christmas.
Originality: 6/10 Is retelling A Christmas Carol in a Christmas ad original? Not really. But the little characters are so whimsical and endearing that we don’t even care.
Fun: 9/10 As fun as getting absolutely sloshed on Christmas Day.
Celebrations – “The Lonely Bounty”
Some may call this anticlimactic, we just call it facts. That’s right, the title of Best Christmas Advert of the Year (So Far) goes to Celebrations for their absolutely genius ad about a Bounty who’s just looking for love.
The ad hilariously plays with the fact that the Bounty is typically everyone’s least favourite Celebrations chocolate, left alone in the box when all the others have been eaten. We see the lonely Bounty failing to get any matches on a dating site, sitting all by himself at a party, and crying on his sofa. But then, in a heartwarming turn of events, the Bounty meets a Brussels Sprout. United by their status as Christmas outcasts, the two share a beautiful Love, Actually “To me, you are perfect” moment before walking away holding hands.
Celebrations, we salute you. This ad has it all: humour, originality, AND it even managed to make us tear up a little. It might not be the most traditional Christmas ad, but that’s why we love it!
Tears shed: 5/10 Yes, we got a bit emotional seeing the poor lonely Bounty going through it. Don’t judge.
Originality: 9/10 When was the last time you saw a grown man crying his eyes out dressed as a Bounty?
Fun: 8/10 As fun as getting the first pick out of the Celebrations selection box (and choosing the Bounty, obviously).
This concludes our ranking of the best (and worst) Christmas adverts of 2021 so far. Do you agree with our ranking? Has your favourite been overlooked? Let us know by getting in touch – you should probably also find out what we can do for your business in terms of Paid Social, PPC, Email Marketing, and more while you’re at it, though.