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'Mr' John Lewis, Apple, BBC One, Aldi: the best 2018 Christmas ads


By Dani Gibson | Senior Writer

December 18, 2018 | 6 min read

Christmas ads are a key staple of the festive season. For 2018's offering, The Drum spoke to the industry to share their favourite festive advertising campaigns.

Following is a list of what the industry experts picked out as the best of the best.

Jamie Mietz, executive creative director, McCann London

Apple - Share Your Gifts

The Christmas marketing blizzard has hit yet again, coating everything with a gaudy green and red hue. To stand out within this deluge of festiveness and yet still feel 'Christmassy' is no mean feat.

Apple has accomplished this by turning traditional gift giving on its head with a charming story about a young woman who is afraid to share her creativity with the world.

It’s a truism that’s universal, one that all ages, genders and cultures can appreciate and relate to. Backed by the soulful music of up-and-coming teenage singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, it’s also a great piece of animation, full of lovely details that make it watchable over and over.

The MacBook is tastefully used briefly at the beginning of the film to set up the story, bearing stickers that are typical to any device and help to make it look like a part of the narrative and less like an immaculate product shot. A nice touch.

During a time when brands often inadvertently step on each other’s toes with similar Christmas insights, 'Share Your Gifts' feels like a fresh take on the festive season message, while still delivering that warm, fuzzy feeling. A great recipe to thaw the heart of even the most cynical Scrooge.

Katy Howell, chief executive officer, immediate officer

Twitter - The Real John Lewis

The John Lewis advert is my favourite Christmas campaign this year. No, not that John Lewis, the Twitter ad featuring THE John Lewis.

The lovely Mr Lewis, who’s an American Lecturer and a Twitter hero. Sharing a name with the UK retailer, every year he responds to those looking to speak to the store, having mistaken his handle. He does it with good grace. Crafting exceptional answers to the more than 50,000 tweets, he is loved by all his 62,000 followers and the press alike. He is infamous in Twitter circles and now he is famous in his own right for the Twitter Christmas advert.

What a coup for Twitter. They snaffled John for a Christmas campaign, #NotARetailStore, and brought as a witty and heart-warming ad pastiche of this year’s official John Lewis Christmas campaign with Elton John.

The advert reflects John’s wry humour with a wee eyebrow raise at the singing guitarist in the room and a pin board of responses that John checks out. It’s fun, a tiny bit 'emosh' and a whole lot of Twitter. Reminding us to join the conversation.

Wayne Deakin, executive creative director, Huge

BBC One - Wonderland

It’s that time again. A battle to out cute each other with reindeers, tinsel, school plays and a dollop of festive nostalgia. My favourite ad is not set in the usual world of middle class Britain. It’s something that felt real and lower key. It felt more genuine despite its use of special effects.

It’s the BBC’s One spot (Well done Laurent Simon and BBC Creative team). A very touching piece of crafted magic set in a relatable Seaside town. Is that Norfolk? A story of connection betweena mother and son. Feels modern but ticks the boxes on festive emotion.

The other big tick is that it un-paints the normally stereotypical image of a teenage boy in a positive light (far to often young teenage boys are shown in negatively) instead this shares a moment of real human interaction. It is also a great message to young teenagers (especially young males) to say it’s ok to have vulnerable feelings and feel the need for love in your life.

A good message to all males and not be afraid to show your vulnerability and that you care. Call me a hippy but love is perhaps Christmas’ most powerful force and costs nothing to give or receive.

Laura Jordan Bambach, chief creative officer, Mr President

Aldi Austrailia - Santa Crashes Christmas

This may not be the best Christmas ad the year, but I miss my “sunburnt country” and my family as the days here fade to damp darkness. This film is the most joyously Aussie Christmas ad I’ve seen in yonks, from a brand who's HQ is all drizzle and drear this time of year.

Yes, there are stereotypes galore in there, but its worth it for the morning birdsong. Thanks Aldi (who would have thought it!?) and BMF for bringing a moment of home to my screen this year.

Richard Denney, executive creative director, St Luke's

John Lewis & Partners - Elton John and BBC One Wonderland

I’m going to be greedy and pick two. First up is John Lewis. I remember the rumours doing the rounds earlier in the year about Elton John being involved, but I don’t think anyone expected him to literally be the star of the show.

A clever change in direction for this much anticipated brand, supported by a strong insight, beautifully crafted by the incredible Seb Edwards. Funnily enough, we had the very same insight for one of our clients for their Christmas ad too. Great minds think alike and all that.

Next is the beautiful film ‘Wonderland’ created by the BBC. Again, a simple idea perfectly captured. I love the moment where the boy is playing the arcade game on Cromer pier, and magically freezes time as his Mum tries to type an email at work.

Brilliant, imaginative storytelling that feels like it could be a scene from Stranger Things. This ad did make me think of the relationship I had with my Mum growing up; on that note, I’m off to call her to see how she is.

The Drum Awards are open to entries for our 2019 awards. This singular global award scheme recognises all the disciplines that make up The Drum’s eco-system. We have a series of competitions you may find relevant including marketing, advertising and digital. To see the full range of our competitions click here.

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