Our perspective at VantagePoint

Why creative European holiday ads "win Christmas"

I turned on my TV the other night to watch a Christmas special and was immediately assaulted by not one, but TWO law firm ads. One with “satisfied customers” shaking their heads at the camera and holding up nine fingers, another with “clients” screeching to represent the “mascot” of the law firm.

Come on, folks — it’s nearly Christmas, and all (well, most) of us are feeling festive, giving, caring, etc. Why must my recent-national-talent-contest-winning-child-star’s charming Christmas show be interrupted by reaaallllyyy bad ads for injury lawyers, car sales and pharmaceuticals for obscure diseases?

Consider, for a moment, the Europeans. They have taken time to create and design absolutely gorgeous, epic storytelling ads that not only advertise a service or a company but often serve to bolster the spirit of the season — and the fact that the “adverts” get plenty of publicity for their sponsors outside of the paid media exposure is a nice added bonus.

I stumbled across this phenomenon in 2015 in this Fast Company article, which theorized that, for the Britons, Christmas is the “Super Bowl” of advertising. With brands like department store John Lewis and supermarkets Waitrose and Sainsbury’s leading the charge, it has become a contest of who could out-publicize, out-tear-jerk, out-spend, and out-create last year’s “winner.”

The ads themselves are gorgeous and epic, with beautifully designed characters (whether real life or animated) and carefully crafted stories that lend themselves to water cooler talk, rewatching, and even merchandising. (And, I suppose, even getting marketing folks like me to blog about them and increase their view count by a few dozen.)

I’ve compiled a few of my favorite examples here. So, from me to you, Merry Christmas — feel free to bookmark this page and come back and watch one of these gems the next time you have to suffer through an ad for a lawyer with a screeching bird of prey or a phone number full of repeating digits. Or just plain need a little Christmas cheer.

Believe in Christmas by Erste Group, an Austrian bank, 2018
Even those we find a little prickly are still worth loving.

Home for Christmas by Waitrose, a British supermarket, 2016
A little bird endures a great deal to (somewhat improbably) return “home” for Christmas dinner.

English for Beginners by Allegro, a Polish auction website, 2016
A grandfather goes all-in to learn English for an important Christmas trip.

The Journey by John Lewis, a British retailer, 2013
A little girl’s snowman comes to life and undertakes a harrowing trip across the UK to find the perfect gift.

(John Lewis’ Christmas adverts are so synonymous with the season that someone has compiled every one since 2007.)

Loteria de Navidad by El Gordo, Spain’s Christmas lottery, 2015
A night watchman at a mannequin plant gets in the holiday spirit for his daytime co-workers.

1914 by Sainsbury’s, a British department store, 2014
An unlikely Christmas Day ceasefire in the trenches of World War I.

And my personal favorite:

Christmas with Love from Mrs Claus, by Marks & Spencer, a British retailer, 2016.
Mrs. Claus takes the gift giving into her own hands for one special boy. Full of wonderful, clever touches such as helicopter call letters RDOLF, confused glances between “knowing” parents while the kids wait impatiently on the stairs, and the choice of Mrs. Claus’s reading material while St. Nick is out doing his thing: “50 Shades of Red.”

Comments

  • Autumn Nicholson says:

    My current favorite for this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNbSgMEZ_Tw

  • Michelle Getz says:

    I found out that the 1914 commercial by Sainsbury was actually based on true events as far as they can tell. Pretty cool!


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