2020 changed everything, but ho ho ho hopefully not the Christmas TV ads!

  • Author Aisha Graham
  • Category Blog, TV Adverts
  • Published

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or something like that. After the year we’ve all had it’s time for some much needed festive cheer, cue the brands dropping their Christmas ads.

There had been a lot of speculation about how they would look this year. Would they be affected by lockdown stopping film productions? Would all the ads be riffs on Zoom call jokes or the unique torture of Teams meetings? Well here at Happy Hour we’re certainly pleased to see that many of the big brands have taken the disaster of 2020 to heart. Dumping the traditional ads and going all in on the ‘what else could go wrong?’ messaging. With a hefty dose of heart-string tugging of course.

Here are a few of our favourites….

First up, Tesco

The award for most 2020 Christmas advert has to go to Tesco. Their ‘no naughty list’ commercial was packed full of COVID-19 and lockdown jokes. While things aren’t yet back to normal, it’s nice to be able to laugh about homeschool fails and March memories – who else panic-bought way too much loo roll? We loved the irreverent, uniquely British humour and use of a Britney song. Props to Tesco for letting us off the hook, after this year “there is no naughty list”.

Yum, it’s M&S foods

The first in a series of ads for M&S foods, this one voiced by Olivia Colman says what we’re all thinking “cor, what a year”. But never fear, M&S foods are here to help with a range of products to “make Christmas a little brighter”. Cue the usual incredible food styling and photography, luxurious shots that make us salivate. M&S will be releasing other adverts each week leading up to Christmas. Each one voiced by a famous actor, who have all chosen charities close to their hearts for M&S to make a donation to on their behalf.

In at three, it’s ASDA

Asda’s warm, familiar feeling ad acknowledges that “Christmas is going to be different this year so let’s really make the most of it”. The campaign brings back Sunny and family who’ve appeared in a variety of ads for the retailer  this year. We see them keeping their old traditions with a little help from Asda. A nice, timely reminder that Christmas being different doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Props to Asda for mentioning ways you can shop safely with them too.

Sainsburys ‘Food is home’

Sainsbury’s released three ultra-nostalgic Christmas ads this year: Gravy Song, Perfect Portions and Big Sarnie. Each ad is made of old home video-style footage, with a phone call between family members as the voiceover. They feature families reminiscing about their own Christmas food traditions, while sharing their hopes that they’ll be able to see each other this year. The ‘Food is Home. Food is Christmas’ tagline really reminds us of how powerfully food, and sharing food, is connected with memory. There are enough nods to the idea of separation and possible lockdown to let you know this is a very 2020 ad, but they haven’t been too overt with it. Instead this could resonate with anyone who’s worried about spending the holidays separated from the people they love.

John Lewis’ ‘Acts of kindness’

The release of the John Lewis Christmas advert must be one of the most highly-anticipated annual events in ad land. The day it drops it’s nearly always one of the top trends on Twitter. This year they broke with tradition, abandoning their tried and true formula of acoustic version of hit song. Instead they went for a new song ‘A Little Love’ by Celeste. The advert is inspired by acts of kindness, a theme we can all get behind this year. With a strong message about the importance of charity and taking care of one another. The commercial goes from live action to animation, John Lewis deliberately commissioned eight animators as a way to provide work for the creative community, hit badly by coronavirus restrictions. The ‘Give a little love’ advert launches their charity campaign to help 100,000 families through food poverty charity FareShare and Home-Start as well as other charities chosen by local stores. Every time the song is downloaded 10p will be donated to the campaign by the record label and Celeste.

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