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Christmas ads 2020: Tesco's no naughty list and The Body Shop tackles female homelessness

Tesco recognises the tough year we have all endured and encourages customers not to worry about any past ‘naughtiness'.

Whatever happens in the next month or two, Christmas 2020 will be like no other before it. As advertisers grapple with how to stand out during the festive season, you can keep up to date with the best seasonal creative right here.

It might be November but it's already beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Mince pies have tentatively started to appear on the supermarket shelves, as of yet unlit festive lights dangle in waiting in cities across the world and brands have started airing their Christmas ads.

As we creep closer to the first week of Advent, most of the big brands have now delivered their 2020 Christmas campaigns. John Lewis' has let its hotly-anticipated Christmas ad out the bag, billed as a 'Christmas campaign like no other, for a year like no other‘, while the Great Ormond Street Hospital has animated the journey patients take to get home for Christmas.

However, Sainsbury's has taken the crown for this year's most-talked about ad - sadly for the wrong reasons. Harnessed by racists and hurled over Twitter, the ad received a slew of vile racist comments because it featured a Black family enjoying Christmas.

Meanwhile, The Body Shop is raising awareness of female homelessness and Tesco says there is no place for a ‘naughty list’ this year.

As we get ready to shake the dust of the boots of 2020, The Drum will be exploring the in-depth strategies brands are taking to engage with customers amid what’s sure to be a holiday season like no other.

In the meantime, we'll be rounding up the crème de la crème of Christmas creative for you each day, right here. Scroll down to see what brands have come up with already and click on the images to watch the ads in full.

Great Ormond Street gets kids home for Christmas

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity has brought out an animated film to bring to life the journey patients make from hospital to home at Christmas.

The film features a patient named Mia and her sister Amy who were treated at the hospital years apart for the same rare condition, chronic demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). Mia was just three weeks old when she was admitted to the hospital with the rare neurological condition, returning home just in time to meet her big sister on Christmas Eve.

Hendrick's Gin embodies Victorian surrealism

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Hendrick’s Gin has aired its first-ever television advert that aims to delight consumers this Christmas season.

The short animated film is a visual fantasy that embodies Victorian surrealism and invites gin drinkers to heed the call of their curiosity. It depicts a butler, who happens to also be a hammerhead shark, at his daily tasks. Intrigued by a martini-glass-shaped crack in the wall, his curiosity helps him discover the secret, magical world of Hendrick’s Gin.

The Body Shop raises awareness for female homelessness

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Marking its first-ever Christmas TV campaign, The Body Shop has teamed up with Channel 4 to illuminate the issue of female homelessness in the UK through the medium of spoken poetry.

'Unseen Kingdom' shines a light on a hidden world all around us of 110,000 young people who exist in the background shadows of daily life, according to 2019 research by Centrepoint.

Showcasing the talent of spoken-word artist Rasheeda Page-Muir the campaign gives life to this statistic by communicating individual tales of survival such as the story of Jamie who became homeless in her late teens but is now a dancer.

Joules partners with The Woodland Trust

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Following the launch of its new festive ‘Woodland Edit’, Joules is to plant a tree with the Woodland Trust each time a product is sold from the range during the Christmas period.

To complement the initiative, Joules has produced a Christmas animation titled ‘A Woodland Tale’ which aims to raise awareness of the charity, the need to give back to nature and to protect the endangered species who make an appearance in it, including the red squirrel, pine marten, capercaillie and door mouse.

Parcelforce delivers its Christmas ad

Overall Rating
1/5 Vote

To highlight it’s role in delivering packages from businesses of all sizes to consumers across the UK and beyond, Parcelforce Worldwide has revealed ‘Delivering With Care’ - its Christmas advert for 2020.

No coal for Tesco shoppers this Christmas

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

As a brand, Tesco has always aimed to reflect the mood of the country in its advertising. That angle has never been more prescient than at the current moment, with Brits in dire spirits under varying degrees of lockdown, and an especially strange Christmas on the horizon.

Developed by agency BBH, and directed by Raine Allen-Miller from production company Somesuch, the ad absolves customers of anything that might have landed them a place on the ‘naughty list’ this year – from bad video call etiquette to buying too much loo roll – and instead encourages them to indulge as much as they want this Christmas.

Sainsbury's phones home

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Sainsbury’s has invited audiences into the homes of three families to establish what the holiday means to people on a personal level. Evoking a more carefree age symbolised by family, laughter and lashings of gravy, its Christmas campaign aims to celebrate the true stars of Christmas dinner.

The first of these, ’Gravy Song’, recounts a daughter’s excitement for her dad’s gravy tempered by his penchant for singing. Combining home-video-style footage and phone conversations, the campaign seeks to honestly reflect modern life.

The John Lewis advert that almost wasn't

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Inspired by the response of the British public to the pandemic during the first wave and the ‘acts of kindness‘ that emerged from communities, for this year's campaign John Lewis and Waitrose have come up with a pandemic theme of kindness and giving to charity, rather than giving presents, which dovetails with its new five-year purpose-led strategy.

Through ‘Give a Little Love‘ the partnership aims to raise £4m for the two charities, boosting FareShare‘s efforts to support those facing food poverty and Home-Start‘s initiatives for parents who need support. A further fund of £1m has been created to bring the charity partnership to life in-store.

The broad campaign is complemented by a two-minute spot, created by long-term advertising agency partner Adam&eveDDB, which features nine different vignettes created by eight different artists, offering support to the creative industries that have struggled at the hands of the pandemic.

A Christmas Kiss

Overall Rating
3/5 Vote

For the first time in 31 years, Hershey's is adding a new twist to its classic Kisses Bells commercial. The Hershey Kisses Bells spot has long been a regular part of the holiday season, but behind the scenes, it was cookies topped with Kisses that were the real icon – warming hearts and homes.

As people are baking more than ever these days, this year, Hershey’s is honouring baking traditions with an evolution of its Bells commercial.

A DIY Christmas

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

In an effort to raise awareness and support two of the most prevalent issues the UK is currently facing, hunger and homelessness, Papa John’s launched its ‘Giving More This Christmas’ campaign, which sees the pizza delivery chain donating a chunk of their creative and marketing budgets to Crisis and the Trussell Trust.

To put the money which would have otherwise been spent on creative designs and production costs to better use, Papa John’s instead, enlisted help from internal staff to design and create the assets for its Christmas 2020 campaign.

From limited-edition pizza boxes to the creation of its TV advert, the assets include simple hand-drawn and festive illustrations from the Papa John’s team, all printed in black in order for the brand to give more back.

The advert is set to the popular Christmas song, Deck the Halls, and features a simple creative concept, including pizza boxes decorated with marker pens.

A Christmas you can believe in

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Building on the success of Lidl’s Christmas campaign last year, this year’s advert uses an amusing parody in an animated world to support the same sentiment.

The ad nods to the unbelievable and unrealistic nature of Christmas ads whilst interrupting these Christmas advertising tropes, and side-stepping them for great Lidl products, at great prices.

The ad continues in this theme by making playful references to ‘emotional gravy’ and moments designed to make viewers sad.

Deliveroo says Christmas is on

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Celebrating its first-ever major UK Christmas campaign, Deliveroo's latest spot 'Christmas is On', was created in-house by the food-delivery company, and highlights that no matter what uncertainty lies ahead the next few months, Deliveroo will be here to deliver this Christmas.

Throughout November and December, a brand new festive menu on Deliveroo features exclusive dishes from loved chains to local neighbourhood favourites. From Pret’s legendary Christmas sandwich to Burger King’s Festive BBQ King and Pizza Hut’s Christmas Pizza, these limited-edition dishes are available only on Deliveroo.

The campaign also celebrates the festive grocery favourites available for delivery on-demand in as little as 20 minutes from mince pies to prosecco, from the likes of Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi and Morrisons.

Burberry is 'Singing in the (London) Rain'

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Fashion house Burberry is making a splash this Christmas with a timeless rendition of Singin' in the Rain, infusing the Gene Kelly classic with the brand’s distinctive urban edginess.

Produced by RiffRaff Films and directed by MegaForce, the classical climatic dance-off has been choreographed by dance collective (La)Horde, amping up the thrill factor by introducing falling blocks of ice for the fleet-footed quartet to circumnavigate.

Evading a descent into tired schmaltz and cheese the short film brings the 1950s straight into the 21st century with a hailstorm on London’s Petticoat Lane.

Keen to fashion more than just a video, Burberry is aiming to celebrate its capacity to provide social good, signified by a partnership with footballer and activist Marcus Rashford to finance a network of British youth centres.

Boots hones in on hygiene poverty in 'What the World Needs'

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Boots has launched its Christmas campaign, centred around acts of kindness, care and great value for all. Boots ‘What the World Needs Now’ campaign recognises that it has been a year like no other and acts of care and kindness are what is needed most.

To help, Boots will provide hygiene essentials to some of the millions of people in the UK living in hygiene poverty, with a donation of £1m worth of products to The Hygiene Bank. Boots is also inviting customers to donate hygiene items to support those most in need this Christmas.

The American Egg board gets in on the Christmas yolk

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote
The American Egg Board’s new campaign, 'The Gift of Eggs,' pokes fun at holiday extravagances in order to celebrate what really matters during the season — family, friends, special memories together and food.
The campaign’s two short films upend trite holiday gifting advertising, like the perennial car with a big bow in the driveway, by adding a comic twist to remind consumers that just a dozen eggs can open the door to incredible possibilities.

Zalando celebrates hugs

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Against the backdrop of a challenging year of uncertainty and separation, Zalando is celebrating the hug as the ultimate expression of human connection and solidarity. Created by Anomaly Berlin, 'We Will Hug Again' is devised to convey a feeling of optimism and hope across Europe.

This message of hope will be depicted across numerous formats. Firstly, it will be brought to life through a series of Hug Portraits which will appear as large unbranded murals in visible urban locations across Europe. It will also include a heartwarming film, '100 Years of Hugs,' directed by Vincent Haycock, and set to the track ‘Godspeed’ by Frank Ocean.

Barbour pushes sustainability

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

For the second year running, Barbour has returned to the popular children’s book Father Christmas, written and illustrated by Raymond Briggs.

The film follows a young boy whose dog has chewed his father’s beloved Barbour wax jacket. The boy writes to Father Christmas to say that he doesn’t want a present this year, he just needs his help to repair his father’s jacket in time for Christmas. Father Christmas realises he can’t mend the jacket himself but has the bright idea of taking it to the Barbour factory in South Shields to see whether they can assist. The Barbour customer service team set to work repairing the jacket and give it a rewax too, so it looks as good as new.

The film is based on the true story of Dudley the dachshund who chewed his owner’s much-adored Barbour jacket. His owner sent it back to Barbour with a note from Dudley to say he was sorry.

Disney gets the tears flowing with heartwarming family tale

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Disney’s Christmas charming Christmas ad is inspired by the themes of traditions and family togetherness in a year that has upended both. Exploring the relationship between a gran and her granddaughter, the animation is certain to tug at the heartstrings.

Running across 26 markets in Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand, North America and parts of Asia, ‘From Our Family To Yours’ holds the same production values as any Pixar movie would.

Based on insight from consumers that traditions, family and nostalgia were the most important things to them in the run-up to this Christmas, the short sees the introduction of two characters – a grandmother, Lola, and her granddaughter.

The Drum spoke to the entertainment giant’s brand and creative marketing director for EMEA, to find out more about its year-long creative and production process.

Dobbies goes full Flashdance... with mince pies

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Dobbies has departed with Christmas tradition to launch 'The Joy of Dobbies' brings to life the magical experience of a trip to the retailer during the festive period.

Abstract, impactful and unexpected, it features a bauble-filled hot-tub, sledging poodle and raining mince-pies. All an entertaining ode to the fact that nothing that beats the feeling of a trip to a Dobbies garden centre at Christmas.

At its core is a disruptive marketing strategy from ODD that centres around short, shareable film content that will catch attention on TV as much as stand-out online. The films also feature original scores from the acclaimed Jazz musician, Ola Onabulé.

Three's mobile ode to 2020

Overall Rating
3/5 Vote

Three's holiday campaign, directed by award-winning director, Simon Ratigan, shows 2020 through the eyes of our phones – from heartfelt kisses on video calls to working from home and virtual quizzes, all voiced by a choir that sings what unrelenting hard work it is to be a phone.

In the end, the lead drops her trusty phone, just in time to get a deal on a shiny new one from Three.

Notonthehighstreet celebrates the magic of small gestures

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Notonthehighstreet, the UK’s curated online marketplace for the UK's best small creative businesses, reveals its first airtime TV Christmas advertising campaign in three years.

The ad, which focuses on ‘The Magic of Small Things’, taps into the national, pandemic-accelerated shift towards supporting small, local businesses, and to cherishing simple moments of connection that have become even more important in 2020.

Kevin the Carrot makes it back home in time for Christmas

Overall Rating
3/5 Vote

Aldi has finally premiered its Christmas ad from McCann which sees Kevin the Carrot return to screens to mark the start of the festive season, bringing with him some much-needed wonder and magic.

The country was left on tenterhooks and rooting for the plucky carrot’s safe return following his appearance earlier this week in a teaser advert. Just days ago, Kevin set the sky alight, Top Gun style, in a fighter jet escapade with co-pilot Turkey.

He was left perilously adrift with a flaming parachute, leaving fans asking Where is Kevin, and will he manage to get home to Katie and family in time for Christmas?

M&S bags Olivia Colman and Tom Hardy for charity-led twist on its 'food porn' ads

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

In a year when charity funding has declined almost 25%, this Christmas M&S Food has announced it will donate £2m to good causes, saying it's not a year for "Christmas advertising fairytales".

Central to this, M&S Food is shining a light on a number of important charities, partnering with nine world-famous actors who have added their unmistakable voices to nine brand new Christmas food ads, shot in its signature 'food porn' style.

The star-studded voiceover cast — which includes Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren and Chiwetel Ejiofor have all chosen to work with M&S, selecting charities close to their hearts to which M&S Food will make a donation on their behalf.

And M&S is doing the same for customers. Every time a customer signed up to its sparks loyalty scheme shops at M&S in-store or online at M&S.com, it will donate to their selected charity, from a range of 35 different causes.

M&S Food will also donate an additional £1million across a diverse range of charities including Shelter, Together for Short Lives and the 35 Sparks charities that M&S supports. Through Sparks, M&S has donated £7.3 million since 2015.

Very unveils tongue-in-cheek spot from Grey

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Very.co.uk has launched a funny Christmas campaign, its first from Grey London, which encourages people to embrace every single moment in the countdown to December 25 instead of focusing on the clichéd portrayal of Christmas day.

The charmingly honest film sends the message that the best thing about Christmas is not just Christmas day but the combination of all the wonderfully festive moments in the build-up to Christmas, from Christmas lights and the all-important tree to Christmas jammies.

Javier Campopiano, chief creative officer Europe and creative chairman London at Grey, said: “It’s a different Christmas message, a message that offers the unfiltered point of view of someone who truly loves everything about Christmas, every single bit that makes it such a magical season.

“Not only is it different to what the brand and its customers have seen before, but we’re confident it’ll resonate right now when we’re facing the prospect of a very different festive period.”

Magical Argos campaign hones in on 'Book of Dreams'

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Despite scrapping its paper catalogue in June after 47 years, Argos has brought out the second chapter in its ‘Book of Dreams’ campaign, which once again taps into the nostalgia that people feel for flicking through the pages of its Christmas gift guide.

Though the original ‘Book of Dreams’ is currently out of print, Argos has brought out a Christmas gift guide to replace it. In the spot, two girls spot a box of magic tricks on the pages of the guide, which transports them off to the furthest reaches of the imagination, to a world where they have their own extraordinary magic show.

Last year saw Argos introduce the ‘Book of Dreams,‘ dropping its playful ‘Christmas Fool‘ character in favour of a more family-oriented spot. Both were created by The&Partnership.

“Last year‘s Christmas ad performed extremely well for us,” explains Argos‘ senior campaign manager, Rob Quartermain. “This year, we‘ve taken that idea on another step. It felt like a really powerful and strong idea and something that‘s uniquely Argos.”

Amazon sets the barre high

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

This year Amazon tells the inspiring story of a determined young ballerina who inadvertently brings her community together amid the challenges of this year.

Set to an arrangement of Queen’s ‘The Show Must Go On‘ the film features 17-year-old French ballet dancer, Taïs Vinolo as her character is forced to train from home due to the pandemic.

While her dreams of dancing a lead role are cancelled due to Covid-19, she doesn't let this hold her back and she continues to practice her routine – dancing wherever and whenever she can. Inspired by her resolution and resolve, her sister and the community around her pull together to give her a stage and an audience in an emotional finale.

Last year, Amazon released a Love Actually-style spot, that featured a little girl playing Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, a flirty couple and its hallmark singing parcels.

TK Maxx debuts stylishly dressed 'Lil' Goat'

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

For its Christmas ad this year, TK Maxx has introduced 'Lil' Goat' - a sassy, enviably dressed little goat.

As 'Lil' Goat' struts across a snowy landscape, her farmers watch her go by. The wife questions her husband, “Did you buy the goat a designer outfit?” Gary, instead of conforming to the stoic farmer type, looks on tenderly with a tear in his eye and replies, replies proudly, “Yes, she’s had such a hard year. She bloomin’ well deserves it if you ask me”. The ad concludes with the jubilant goat sliding freely across the icy terrain, embodying the off-price retailer’s spirited and often humorous nature to deliver an important message - after the year we’ve had, everyone deserves to feel special this Christmas.

Last year TK Maxx adopted a daredevil skier called TK to show how shoppers can enter autopilot in its stores.

Lego goes on an adventure created by children as they play

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

The Lego Group celebrates the magic of the everyday as experienced by children through play. It showcases families coming together and experiencing the joyful, humorous adventures that children create and explore as they build, unbuild and rebuild with Lego products.

Part of its 'Rebuild the World' brand campaign, the playful storyline is set to a bespoke reimagining of ‘What a Wonderful World’

In the whimsical adventure, every story, animal and vehicle in the fun-filled celebration of children’s creativity are based on existing Lego products; princess knights calm dragons, astronauts celebrate their marriage with dinosaurs and giant chicken, and a Star Wars AT-AT takes a nap mid-crusade.

Pepsi Max gets all hip-hop

Overall Rating
3/5 Vote

Adding to the list of brands producing spots soundtracked with grime and hip-hop, Pepsi Max has partnered with artists Kamakaze and TrueMendous who star in its Christmas spot.

‘Christmas Refreshed‘ sees Pepsi shatter old Christmas traditions, offering an alternative view. ‘Traditional is so cliché‘ the rappers declare, and throughout the ad longstanding Christmas tropes are replaced with cool alternatives – Santa‘s sledge is replaced by a hench sound system, a festive jumper transforms into a sick Pepsi jacket.

Facebook enlists football legend Ian Wright

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Portal from Facebook launches a brand new holiday campaign with national treasure and footballing legend, Ian Wright.

Each family moment in the campaign showcases how a different feature of Portal is helping the Wrights feel like they’re hanging out together. From the AI-powered Smart Camera, AR filters, through to Group calling and Rooms, Portal’s technology allows the family to focus on what matters; coming together during the holidays and keeping their family traditions - like making fun of Dad - alive.

Asda celebrates the Christmas we all need

Overall Rating
2/5 Vote

This year, Asda was one of the first of the major supermarkets to launch its Christmas ad.

With England on the eve of its second lockdown, many are looking to the festive season to bring a little cheer to the end of 2020. Featuring the tagline, 'the Christmas we all need, at the prices we want' the spot sees the return of Asda super-fan Sunny and his wife and children as they try to bring some seasonal cheer to their Scrooge-like next-door-neighbor, Christine.

The spot has won praise for its no-frills approach to this year's festivities, acknowledging that "Christmas is going to be different this year so let’s really make the most of it."

Merry Crispmas from Walkers

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Walkers Crisps has released its Christmas offering starring YouTuber and Christmas No.1 holder, LadBaby, with supporting roles from East 17's Tony Mortimer, Walking in the Air singer Aled Jones, and Walker's mainstay, Gary Lineker.

In the spot, the gang performs a medley of Christmas carols with lyrics adapted to herald the arrival of Walker's new sausage roll flavoured crisps.

The ad was created in partnership with The Trussell Trust, the charity which supports food banks across the UK. The crisp brand has pledged to help LadBaby raise more money than ever in its name this Christmas. Walkers had already pledged £1m to The Trussell Trust earlier this year, as the charity needs more support than ever due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

This round-up will be updated as the Christmas ads roll on in.

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