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Creative Creative Works Christmas

Creatives behind the unofficial Iceland Christmas ad share their story


By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

December 5, 2023 | 5 min read

The duo is addressing the red, crinkled elephant in the room.


Unofficial Iceland ad / Charlie Loxley and Herman Dias

In early November, Iceland’s executive chairman, Richard Walker, said the supermarket chain would not be releasing a Christmas campaign this year. His statement read: “As a business, we were faced with a decision: do we spend millions creating and sharing a TV advert, or do we invest the money supporting our customers during the cost of living crisis? This was a no-brainer.”

Instead of an extortionate marketing campaign, Walker and his team decided to slash product prices and introduce more £1 items. It was a sentiment that piqued the interest of two adland creatives, copywriter Charlie Loxley and art director Herman Dias, who thought, ‘Why shouldn’t Iceland have both?’

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As Dias tells The Drum: “I thought it was a really bold and admirable thing for it to do. I had to tell Charlie about it and, sure enough, we were thinking the same thing. It’s a great cause and a kind gesture, so as soon as we could, we got to work producing a reactive piece – but of course, time wasn’t on our side. We worked as fast as we could to keep up with the news.”

Loxley was a little more reserved and, for a brief moment, he wasn’t fully convinced; after all, the store had made it clear that it didn’t want an ad.

“The doubt was short-lived when we realized that the usual all-singing, all-dancing shtick wasn’t necessary,” the copywriter explains. “The message just needed a share-worthy nudge. We weren’t after anything fancy, just quick copy and clean artwork. Eventually, we landed on a couple of pieces that we liked: one succinct, on-the-nose idea that we brought to life on Iceland’s shopping bags and the one that’s been doing the rounds. For the sake of sharing online, we sent the latter into the ether.”

The finished image shows an itemized till receipt on top of a festive red, crinkled backdrop. It reads: “Some supermarkets spend millions to make a Christmas ad. We’ve saved millions to make your Christmas a cracker.”

And share-worthy it was. On its initial release, the creative team received some expected plaudits from their own LinkedIn network, but it quickly exploded and the work ended up on agency accounts and in news stories. It has had hundreds of shares and thousands of reactions. Some even dubbed it the ‘best Christmas ad this year.’

Dias adds: “We really weren’t expecting the amount of attention or compliments we’ve had from the public, so as far as Christmas presents go, this is definitely the best I’ve ever had!”

The work gained so much attention that many people, including some publications, reported that it was an official piece of comms from Iceland. To be clear, it isn’t. The shop’s chairman has expressed his liking for it online, but at the time of writing, the creative duo has had no official response from Iceland.

They can’t quite believe the amount of attention it has had, though. “We couldn’t be more thankful for the support – as well as for the appreciation Richard Walker has shown under one or two reshares,” concludes Loxley. “Just as well, or we might’ve ended up in chest freezers with half-price stickers on our heads!”

View all the latest Christmas ads here.

Creative Creative Works Christmas

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