Each year, almost everyone eagerly awaits the John Lewis Christmas advert that premieres on tele on that mid-November Sunday evening. However, the retail giant have switched things up and for the first time ever have united with their partners Waitrose to bring out a joint Christmas campaign. Yesterday morning we were introduced to #ExcitableEdgar on social media - which has shown John Lewis’ move towards a more digital strategy in order to keep up with consumer behaviours. 2019 has been a particularly interesting year for retailers so we have been waiting very patiently to see how this year’s Christmas campaigns will keep up with the trends.

We are about to head into what’s called ‘The Golden Quarter’ for retailers; Christmas, the season of spending. As we know, the British retail environment has been operating under uncertain conditions thanks to the big political debate that begins with a B…

Not only has this impacted valuable trade from around the globe, but the growth of digital technologies has meant that consumers are less likely to shop in stores and more likely to purchase the items online via their laptop or smartphone. With the reliance on digital technologies and lack of brand loyalty, there is still hope as most consumers are more likely to purchase an item when a memorable experience is attached to the purchase. Because of this, retailers have been working harder than ever to bring people back into their stores and spend more, especially on the lead up to Christmas. Releasing a lavish and sparkly Christmas advert has been key in recent years to draw customers into the brand’s Christmas fantasy in order for them to form relationships with the particular brands. Christmas adverts traditionally aim to tug on those heartstrings and trigger heartfelt emotions, whether that be humour, sentiment or happiness. Now, these adverts have evolved into whole campaigns, becoming a lot more sophisticated- using social media, influencers and smart technologies to inflate impact in this highly competitive landscape. Does anyone remember when M&S first harnessed social media and tone of voice with their Follow The Fairies campaign - using said fairies to also act as customer service representatives on Twitter.

m&s follow the fairies

Statistics show that every £1 spent on creating a Christmas campaign, returns £6 to the UK economy. So, in 2018, an estimated £6.4 billion was spent on brands’ festive ads. Retailers believe this is the best way to maximise profits throughout this time of year, with John Lewis revealing that their Christmas campaigns increase sales by approximately 35% each year.

Digital was at the heart of this Christmas season strategy, utilising social media and video. Here is our pick of 2019’s best Christmas adverts who bring their campaigns to life through trend-driven themes, digital media and genius PR activities...


The release of the John Lewis advert has now become a national event in the UK, with 1 in 3 Brits more excited for it’s annual release than a film and 1 in 10 becoming fans of the song or artist used in the ad. This year we were introduced to #ExcitableEdgar via Twitter. An account with the same name was opened on the 12th of November with a teaser video of the character. Although nobody knew this was John Lewis at the time, it was an excellent way to get people talking. Then on Thursday 14th November rumours that #ExcitableEdgar was the work of John Lewis were true when a two and a half minute video was released by the retailer.

Each year John Lewis aims to tug on the heartstrings with heartfelt mini movies. This campaign is an excellent example which demonstrates the power of storytelling through adverts. For a long time, advertisers have been using storytelling as a way to connect with consumers, especially as a new generation of shoppers become dubious of advertising. And so, John Lewis and Waitrose have proven that you don’t need to sell a product to get customers to buy them. The two brands are bringing the advert to life with a Snapchat filter, dragon emoji (that will only be available until Christmas Day) and #ExcitableEdgar merchandise, cupcakes and Christmas puddings available in each store.


The release of the John Lewis Christmas advert is iconic in the UK during the festive season. However, we all know the soundtrack for December is Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’. That’s why Walker’s have pulled out all the stops to compete with retail giants known for their Christmas spirit. All I Want For Christmas Is You celebrates 25 years this winter so Walker’s took the opportunity to team up with Mariah Carey to celebrate the launch of their new festive flavours. Using their trademark humour and launching the #MustBeWalkers social media campaign alongside the advert has been a proven success so far with thousands of people talking about the advert via Twitter alone.


For the fourth year running, Kevin the Carrot was brought in to help Aldi’s Christmas strategy. The adverts have been a hit amongst British consumers and they now have an attachment to the character. However, the brand have come under fire when they tried to use Kevin the Carrot to sell alcohol. The character was deemed likely to appeal to children and for that reason Aldi were banned from promoting anything that would appeal to under 18s. Nevertheless, in 2018 the character helped Aldi rake in almost £1 billion in December alone. Aldi have helped drive the campaign by selling Kevin the Carrot merchandise in store and promoting video content and #KevintheCarrot on social media.


This year, GAP have focussed on how a product can trigger an array of emotions. ‘The Hoodie’ encompasses Christmas nostalgia which omits heartfelt sentiment, which proves that a single item can be meaningful for so many. GAP have built a reliable reputation over the years which they have showcased through this year’s Christmas advert. Using ‘The Hoodie’ to represent the bond between a mother and son helps deliver the campaign message that GAP is a reliable brand that consumers can trust.


There has been a decline in sales across some of the largest fashion retailers, including M&S, as we enter into a time of economic uncertainty while being put under pressure to be more sustainable in our consumption. On top of this, M&S have struggled to attract younger consumers to the store for years, so have produced this modern and quirky ad to help promote their extensive range of Christmas jumpers. The song use, play on words and social media presence is sure to tap into the younger consumer who celebrates Christmas Jumper Day each year. This ad is aiming to help M&S establish themselves as the place to go to purchase the ideal Christmas jumper, no matter what your style is.


One huge trend that has cropped up in ads from M&S, Debenhams and now Cineworld is the difficulties consumers have deciding what to buy their loved ones. Cineworld are promoting gift cards and membership benefits by creating a campaign that involves their customers by hosting a nationwide charades tournament that will be streamed live on Facebook. Ideas like this help brands bring their campaign to life and engage their audience. They optimise experiences and help push this out through their communications. After all, consumers want to enjoy a memorable experience when making a purchase.


This season brings the launch of IKEA’s first ever British Christmas ad campaign - and boy have they delivered! Tapping into contemporary culture and the scale of youth culture buying power, IKEA have noted the resurgence of grime music and have brought in influential grime artist, D Double E, who voices the soundtrack. The ad has a strong target audience and aims to attract those who suffer from the phenomenon of ‘home shame’, which has been influenced by social media idealisms. They are encouraging this sector to invest in small items that will help lift their home just in time to impress guests over the Christmas period.


This is a great example of bringing a company’s heritage to the surface. Conveyed through clever storytelling, Barbour are looking to promote and celebrate its 125th anniversary. The advert takes the customer through 125 years of Santa wearing his gifted Barbour jacket which has lasted all this time. Demonstrating important themes of sustainability and heritage through a product-driven campaign that their target audience will be able to relate to.


Visa have gripped onto the theme of uncertainty this season with a campaign encouraging consumers to shop locally and help grow their local economy. The social media and advertising campaign, going by the name #whereyoushopmatters, is simply aiming to influence consumers to spend more over the Christmas period within the UK. Large billboards are set to be raised in six prime city centre locations, accompanied with television and print media adverts. A sophisticated digital strategy has also been implemented to target the digital audience, from geo-targted ads promoting local businesses and a social media campaign showcasing copycat ads made from real life business owners


In the battle of the supermarkets, Sainsbury’s is known for their sweet, sentimental adverts over the Christmas period. Sainsbury's Christmas campaigns are another excellent example of brilliant storytelling. Storytelling is a powerful tool that marketers’ use to help craft their message in the most engaging way possible - everybody loves to hear a story right? Sainsbury’s are trying to cement themselves as the retailer of choice at Christmas, competing against the likes of Tesco and M&S. The brand have used their distinctive tone of voice, colour orange and heritage to tell the Christmas story in a new light. What is interesting is that the full two and a half minute long advert will only be shown online and a 60 second and 90 second edit will be shown on television. This shows the move away from tv and importance of digital amongst consumers.

It's fair to say that the UK are obsessed with Christmas campaigns! It has been really interesting to see how brands have developed their strategies this year in order to keep up with consumer's changing demands and embracing social media and digital technologies have been key in this. Bravo John Lewis on another belter!
After Digital provide training on all digital marketing subjects, including social media. So, if you want a little more information on how to harness your social media channels for success, please feel free to contact us.

Contact Us