Our Christmas advert review 2017

It’s that time of year again! A time to gather with your nearest and dearest, eat your favourite festive snacks… and watch the Christmas adverts! Gone are the days of anticipating the big Christmas blockbuster, and instead, the high-budget retailer ads that unofficially mark the beginning of Christmas are here to stay. The battle for 2017’s most tear jerking, heart-warming, and fantastically festive TV ad has begun; here on the blog, some of our in-house creatives give us their take.


Written by Richard Daughton – Creative Director

Debenhams have gone big this year. Beautifully shot with just the right dose of Christmas schmaltz, ‘You Shall’ is a blockbuster modern-day Cinderella story that is sure to give viewers that feel-good factor. But importantly, it works as part of a much wider campaign, with print, POS and social campaigns all reinforcing the core message that Debenhams can make your dreams come true this Christmas. Creatively, I’m not sure what Ewan McGregor has got to do with anything and feels like an unnecessary bolted-on celebrity endorsement that the concept was strong enough to live without.


Written by Richard Daughton – Creative Director

Bucking the Christmas trend this year, Tesco goes for reality over fantastical reinterpretation. For decades, Tesco was the nation’s favourite supermarket and this campaign is clearly an attempt to position them back at the heart of a modern, diverse Britain, with the tagline “Everyone’s Welcome”. Turkey dinner has long been the hero of Christmas dinner and this wry advert reflects the lengths we go to on Christmas day to serve up the perfect roast – though I’ve never barbecued one! Just like the characters in the advert, everyone’s got an opinion. Mine is that this campaign hits home. It resonates. I don’t feel ‘sold to’ and right now I could murder a turkey sandwich. Someone pass the cranberry sauce, please.

John Lewis

Written by Paul Williams – Creative Director

Monsters under the bed. What’s not to love? John Lewis’ Christmas offering for 2017 follows a reassuring formula. The cute lovable character buying a present for another cute lovable character.  It’s beautifully shot, big budget and kids love it – which ticks all the festive advertising boxes. However, there is another monster under the bed that we must discuss. Is it as good as their previous offerings and does it live up to the hype of the most anticipated advert of the year, outside of the Super Bowl? Probably not. In that regard, it isn’t the monster under the bed, rather the elephant in the room.

Marks & Spencer

Written by Paul Williams – Creative Director

I rather like ‘who would win in a fight’ questions. Tiger vs Lion, Bruce Lee vs Mike Tyson etc. So to this Christmas’ pressing question, Bear vs Monster – or to be more specific the John Lewis Monster vs Marks and Spencer’s Paddington Bear.  Some creatives may feel that using Paddington Bear, as a campaign vehicle, is a creative cop-out and merely hopping on the back of an existing blockbuster. But putting aside the rather acerbic egos of Soho’s espresso guzzling creatives, Paddington has it all – cool story, massive production values and perhaps most importantly, it feels far more ‘Christmassy’ than the John Lewis offering.  So, to answer the question above, the bear may be smaller than the monster, but it wins the fight.


Written by Angharad Thomas – Head of Planning

Talking of fights, there’s one going on between my head and my heart when it comes to the Sainsbury’s campaign this year. My head is saying – good job Sainsbury’s. Rather than creating a ‘one off’ Christmas ad that doesn’t relate in any way to the hard work the brand does throughout the year, they’ve stayed absolutely true to their brand strategy. They’ve brought a Christmas twist to the ‘Living Well’ strategy, proving that whatever the time of the year, the same Sainsbury’s values always apply. They’ve also stayed true to their creative device of celebrating the normal, everyday people buying at Sainsbury’s in their campaign. I think their consistency should be applauded, after all, the rule book shouldn’t be thrown out the window, just because it’s Christmas. But, ahhhh. Then my heart fights back. The truth is, I just don’t enjoy this advert that much. It doesn’t have quite the charm. character or fun I was hoping for. Intellectually – I give it top marks. Emotionally – for me, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.


Written by Angharad Thomas – Head of Planning

The first thing that struck me when I went online to watch this ad is that Christmas advertising really has got to a crazy stage. YouTube now makes you sit through an advert before you get to the actual advert you’ve searched to find. When else would this happen apart from Christmas? Okay, take your point, Super Bowl, maybe. When I eventually got to the Waitrose ad, I was ready for the  nice, warming, comforting Christmas story I’ve come to expect from the brand at Christmas. But instead it made me laugh out loud. I don’t think that was the intention. Is it me or does this ad seem hilarious if thought about in the context of Brexit Britain? The pub (Britain) is a cosy home to a comfortable few. When newcomers try to get in, everyone stares at them suspiciously, whispering among each other discontentedly. As the snow storm hits (let’s call this bit political turmoil), the pub gets cut off, with seemingly no way out. As the snow storm worsens, the people survive by looking after themselves, resorting to familiar and traditional ways in a cosy bubble. And when a way out is eventually offered? They look sheepishly at each other, before saying ‘no thank you’ and shutting the door.

So which is your favourite Christmas ad of 2017?