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The Christmas Edit | Northern Hemisphere (the big guns!)

DRUMROLL PLEASE……Yes, it’s back. A little late in the season but it is that time of year when Juanita does her annual review of retail Christmas brilliance from around the world.

It’s not Christmas unless you have had a good weep over an emotional Christmas moment captured by none other than a retailer. Or laughed at, or with, a cheesy “slice of life” Christmas creation. I even look forward to those creations which make you go WTF or “what was that person thinking when they signed off the creative and budget for that thing?”

My review typically focuses on the Northern Hemisphere as they simply invest more time, money and thinking into their creative executions. It’s tradition, it’s expected, and they have the “customer numbers” to fight for. However, what we are seeing this COVID year is that Christmas tradition has been challenged.

If you are in the UK or US (which has hit a harrowing new daily record with over 3000 COVID related deaths daily), you simply don’t want to be encouraging people to “hit the shops.” A retailer does however want to ensure they appeal to prospective shoppers by “appropriately” connecting with their hearts, minds and wallets and getting onto the shopping list.

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 or simply a slice of life but what it does is evoke something; something emotional. It tells a story elegantly. It weaves something relatable that captures your heart and ultimately your wallet.

The big thing that swings a cracker of a Christmas ad for me is music. If it stirs something within or if it can make me well up with tears, it’s a winner. What I will say is that this year, my number 1 winner doesn’t have any music…but it still gives me goosebumps.

2020 Christmas campaigns in a snapshot

2020 sees the concept of “kindness” as a central theme for the festive season. From acts of kindness to one another to supporting gifting and charitable donations to those in need. It’s delightful to see this pivot but, as you will see from some of the production values, big money has still been invested in bringing the idea to life.

What has also been a theme weaved through is the concept of giving yourself permission to have the best Christmas possible, as we have all given up so much this year. Family, as always, is central.

The US hasn't got a look in this year and to be fair, they are doing it tough. Retail is simply trying to keep afloat so I'd be surprised to see any massive productions as it simply isn't appropriate.


Nice One Award

Boots - Help Hygiene Poverty (UK)

Humans have face-masks in all the right places, and there are lots of smiles in this ad PLUS the soundtrack rocks. A kindness based campaign, Boots’ announced a donation of £1 million worth of hygiene products to The Hygiene Bank, providing essential goods to millions of people across UK currently living in hygiene poverty. Nice one.

"Coolest" Christmas Extravaganza Award

Burberry - Singin' in the Rain (UK)

Burberry know their target audience well and I love this ad which features a stunning rendition of Singin’ in the Rain but a whole bunch of cool. It's fun, it's interesting, it's unexpected. It's a Burberry Christmas.

SUPREME WINNER | Excellence in Christmas Award

SupaValue - Just Believe (Ireland)

When I explain this ad to people, it gives me goosebumps. Every time I watch this ad it gives me goosebumps and makes me teary. It is the type of ad that makes me yearn for my homeland and my family in Australia. This creative encapsulates everything magic about the festive season.


IKEA – The Christmas Food Waste (Russia)

Every Christmas and New Year, people around the world throw away tons of food, harming nature. For Christmas 2020, IKEA encourages us to behave responsibly: this season please throw away less food, and save more. "What if nature returns everything we throw away during the Holidays? Don't let your celebrations go to waste." IKEA, 3109 products for more sustainable life at home. A great mix of message and retailing.

Call me a grinch but this is bhlew Award

John Lewis / Waitrose (UK)

John Lewis / Waitrose typically make fabulous, pull on the heart-strings ads. I've always LOVED their ads. But this just didn’t do it for me. It was just trying to be too “everything” all in one ad. I get it’s about how a little bit of kindness can be delivered in many ways but……bhlew.

Nailed it Award

Tesco – No Naughty List (UK)

Of course we deserve a great Christmas. It’s been a mother of a year. Tesco has nailed the customer sentiment and delivered it in spades!

Makes you laugh out-loud Award

TJMaxx – The Lit’ Goat (UK)

This ad is just brilliant. Simple, funny and intrinsically linked to product. It gives me a giggle every time. Everyone deserves an awesome Christmas this year. How festive.

Runner-Up Supreme Award | Gives you goosebumps Award

Amazon – The show must go on (UK)

This year Amazon’s Christmas ad provides a slice of reality of 2020 and how the pandemic impacted our lives. It follows a young ballet dancer and how when her dreams are shattered family and community can help get you through. Stunning with an excellent link back to the retailer and product. Five stars.

Nostalgia and heartstrings Awards

Sainsbury – Food is Home (UK)

I probably should rate this series of ads from Sainsbury a lot higher. They tick all the boxes and the creative values are lovely. It's slice of life and the classy stuff we expect from Sainsbury.

Difficult to beat last year’s Award

Argos – The Book of Dreams (UK)

Argos is a catalogue company right. A pretty cool catalogue company and last year marked the return to using the catalogue at the forefront of their Christmas campaign.

Last year was one of the best ads of the year as it was incredibly relevant and fun linking beautifully to customers wants and desires and emotions.

This year didn’t make me dance in my seat, laugh, cry like 2019 did. Compare the two and decide for yourself.


2019 - my favourite and Supreme Winner for 2019

WTF Award

Dobbies – Makes you feel like (UK)

I just wish I was a fly on the wall when this was being pitched. Someone has either been sniffing too much icing sugar or hit the eggnog early. I have no words. And they made a series of three. It's a bloody gardening centre for godsake.

Vomit in my Christmas Stocking Award

Boden – Unwrap glorious British style

Because of course, Christmas is always this perfect and every family is picture perfect. We always are dancing in our pj’s and we all look stunning when our kids take photos of us when we are twirling with our partner 🤮

Well that pretty much covers the best of the Northern Hemisphere. Part 2 focus on the Antipodean collections and what we have seen in our own backyard.


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