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Mistletoe Mania - Part One

It’s that time of year when I do my annual review of retail Christmas brilliance from around the world. I do like to challenge tradition, but Christmas ads are those little bits of emotional storytelling that I love to indulge in. I love to escape to the places where master storytellers can capture that feeling in the back of your throat or eyes and can make you feel something and as a result, more aligned to a brand. Happy. Reflective. Hopeful. Will it make you shop more? Well that’s the magic isn’t it?

Typically, I am a little grinch-like with what we produce in the southern hemisphere and in particular NZ, but I have to admit I have been impressed with the content delivered this year. Farmers, The Warehouse, Countdown, New World, Pak n Save, NZ Post have all had a good crack at it. They have all evolved beyond the usual stack it high and watch it fly and injected a bit of emotion. Finally. I still have aspirations to see Kiwi Christmas done in a way that can strike a chord of difference and compel me to shop (check out IKEA’s ad for an example of this done incredibly well).

What makes a good retail Christmas ad then?

It needs to make you look up and stop. It’s intriguing for a bunch of reasons. It can be clever, funny, reflective, curious or simply a slice of life.....but what it does is evoke something.... something emotional.

It tells a story without trying too hard. It weaves a connection that is relatable and that captures your heart – ultimately your wallet.

The big thing that swings a cracker of a Christmas ad for me is music. If it can make me well up with tears, it’s a winner. This year we are pretty lucky to have a few tear-jerkers as well as some novel and new ways to connect with shoppers. And this year has yet again delivered some stunning soundtracks.

So, let’s just be Chrismassy for the next few minutes and not judge whether the investment financially is worth it, rather, who has done a good job to connect with hearts and wallets. In saying that, I’d love to see someone else (especially in the UK) do an analysis of the investment (especially when UK retail is so dire) as to if it provides any significant movement in market share, profitability and sales. And whilst I LOVE reviewing these stunning pieces of work, it would also good to understand does anyone ever remember who these ads were from?


Makes you laugh out loud Award 2019

Mark’s & Spencer – Go Jumpers

This is a lesson in how to become an instant hit and burn it up on Tik Tok. Outstanding soundtrack. This advert quintessentially taps into the British psyche (Christmas jumpers are a thing I am told. EVERYONE gets one). The more I watch it the more I laugh at it. And I think it doesn’t try too hard.

And then they backed it up with – Go Pyjamas

Best recreation of the story of Christmas Award 2019

Sainsbury – Nicholas the Sweep

Sainbury’s opened 150 years ago and changed the course of Christmas forever in the most major of ways. Of course, they did. A feel-good but epic tale however I feel like this has been done before. Possibly not as good as this version though.

Best Family Favourite – my kids are going to want one of these Award 2019

John Lewis/Waitrose and partners – Excitable Edgar

I love this ad. I well up with tears every single time I watch it. And Edgar, oh Edgar I love you. So very cute and no doubt millions will be snapped up, purchased to be placed into Christmas stockings all over the UK. If anyone is in the UK and wants to buy me an Edgar, I’ll spot you the cash.

Top marks for being brave and breaking the mould Award

Ikea - Silence the critics

I read with interest that apparently this is IKEA’s first-ever Christmas campaign and god didn’t they produce something incredibly cool. An insight. An opportunity. Emotional engagement. Shame vs. pride - a brilliantly woven selling opportunity. Retailers take note. This is something special. Top marks.

Drum roll please…….

Best Christmas Commercial 2019

Argos – The Book of Dreams

Argos is a catalogue company right. A pretty cool catalogue company. I was talking with a friend who grew up in the UK and she talked about how she loved getting the catalogue and turning the corners for all the stuff your heart desired.

Argos has shown us that they are incredibly relevant and fun and this links beautifully to customers wants and desires and wraps it up in a perfect package of Christmas joy.

Well done Argos – every time I watch this ad I dance in my seat, laugh, cry and love the special touches like the shot of the girls unicorn slippers (I imagine on page 36). The choice of Simple Minds and turning the kitchen into a stage. The stuff dreams are made of.


Back to the Future Award

Tesco – Delivering Christmas

Nostalgia - this is the stuff memories are made of. This is a lovely blend of Tesco delivering literally through the decades but in an unexpected way. This is also the stuff that makes your internal team proud of who they work for. It ticks all the boxes but not in my top picks I am afraid.

Best Southern hemisphere execution Award

Aldi – The Miracle Ham

For the third year in a row, Aldi Australia has nailed it. This is way better than the UK Christmas execution for Aldi and possibly better than many of the big-budget productions out of the UK.

Every great idea comes from an incredible story. This is an incredible story, engaging every step of the way. The hero. The ham. The centrepiece of every Christmas table and the crowning jewel for Audi at Christmas. Advertising that will sell products and get the brand talked about. Wouldn’t you want to eat that ham?

Aldi UK execution just isn’t as good.

Making retail the hero Award

Visa – Where you shop matters

Good on Visa for standing up for the owner-operator and SME’s that make up the fabric of the retail landscape. It’s been bloody tough in the UK and the retail situation doesn’t look like abating.

I can’t help but feel though that this makes me want to “pity buy” where there could have been a little more of a happy, community angle? It is Christmas after all.

The tear-jerker of the year Award (for like the 10th time running)

Apple - The Surprise

An epic slice of life journey proudly bought to you by life and some cool Apple products.

But let’s not forget MY FAVOURITE ad this decade Award

APPLE – Happy Holidays 2013

I include this one every year because it is timeless (well in our connected age), relevant and heart-warming. Everything a Christmas ad should be.

If anyone needs to sit and have a gin, I'd love to have a yarn about HTF these guys can afford the media. Or is every TVC only ever show in full once? #BetterWorkStories

All the fails are covered in Part 2 - Mistletoe Mania

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