The holiday season is here, and that means it’s time to talk about Christmas adverts! A long-standing tradition in advertising, Christmas ads see companies and brands taking advantage of the season’s high spirits to promote their products and services. The holiday period is seen by many brands as a way to boost brand loyalty, and to show a more human side to their values. 

While some Christmas adverts bring warmth and joy to our hearts, others can be downright cringe-worthy and inappropriate. Here are our top five Christmas ads which absolutely nailed it over the years, and five we thought drastically failed it.

Nailed it: Coke (1995) – Holidays are coming

The Coca-Cola Christmas advert has become a staple since its original release in 1995 that sees the now infamous Coca-Cola branded convoy of red trucks drive into a festive snow-covered town. The advert has become iconic over the years and is always a heartwarming reminder of the festive season. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been seeing this on our screens for the last 27 years.

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Failed it: Japan’s Christmas reindeer Dominos delivery (2016):

Dominos using Reindeer to deliver pizza over the Christmas period, what’s not to love? Well, it turns out there’s actually quite a lot. For starters reindeer weren’t the most practical when it came to actually delivering the pizza and, unlike Santa, humans aren’t so great at taming them. Combine the carnage unleashed on the streets with animal welfare complaints and it’s no surprise that it wasn’t long until Dominos Pizzas PR stunt was dead in the water.

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Nailed it: Irn Bru (2013) – The Snowman

The Scots do not disappoint with this ode to a classic that has a humorous twist. The Irn Bru advert created in 2013 sees a rewrite of the Christmas classic “walking in the air” and features the Snowman and the boy flying over the Scottish landmarks with a can of Irn Bru safely in the boy’s hand. When the boy refuses to share the Irn Bru the snowman drops him and takes the can. Remember, Christmas is for sharing with everyone.

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Failed it: Bloomingdale’s holiday catalogue blunder (2015) 

It’s really hard to imagine how this got signed off on, but it did, and it still blows our minds. The advert published in Bloomingdale’s 2015 holiday catalogue advertising  Rebecca Minkoff features a laughing woman with a man looking at her and the caption “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking”… yes you read that right, and it’s no surprise that it went down like a lead balloon and forced Bloomingdale to officially apologise and pull the ad.

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Nailed it: Sainsbury’s (2014) – 1914 with British Legion:

In partnership with the British Legion marking 100 years since the start of world war I in 1914, Sainsbury’s launched an advert that went a step further than just advertising the supermarket chain. The advert portrays the true story of the French, English and German troops who came together to play a game of football at Christmas. We see a young English and German soldier exchange gifts and at the end, with the backdrop of the trenches we see the title line “Christmas is for sharing”.  Along with the advert, Sainsbury’s donated all profits from a £1 chocolate bar to a veterans’ charity. 

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Failed it: Burberry (2019) – What is Love?

Although at first glance the advert by Burberry looks like some great production value, we still struggled to see the point behind the whole thing because it certainly didn’t feel ‘festive’. 

Burberry stated that the ad was meant to ‘celebrate the essence of love at this special time of year – those who make you happy, lift you up and bring you joy”, did we miss something? Because we’re fairly certain models wearing high-end fashion, and dancing around a studio (and pretty badly as well) – is not what people relate to when thinking about happiness and love during Christmas. 

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Nailed it: Nike (1985) – The Air Jordan Christmas Poster

Sometimes less is more, and this is a perfect example of something very simple, yet very effective.

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Failed it: KFC – The Taste That Unites

KFC for Christmas dinner, although we can see where they were aiming for with this one, and we love a bit of satire, we’re still not so sure…

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Nailed it: Marks & Spencer (2016) – Mrs Claus.

The M&S Mrs Claus advert is the fun and festive adventure that follows the ‘far cooler’ Mrs Claus as she prepares for Christmas. The ad focuses on her journey to find the perfect presents for her husband, Santa, and her family, and even features an original song, ‘A Gift For You’, written and performed by British singer-songwriter Celeste. The ad was praised for its heartwarming and uplifting message, as well as its focus on female empowerment and independence. 

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Failed it: Mr Kippling (2003) 

Only shown three times on tv before the number of complaints led to its removal from the airways, ‘Nativity’ by My Kippling features a woman named Mary painfully giving birth in clinical surroundings – until the camera pans out and the scene becomes a nativity play.  Complaints were far and wide with some accusing the ad as ‘blasphemous’, which is certainly not something you want to be labelled as during the holiday period.

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So there you have it, do you agree with our selections? Leave a comment on our Instagram post!

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