At Christmastime, our TV screens fill not only with holiday specials, but tons of commercials. Whether advertising a store or a product, each one tries to put its own spin on Christmas. Some of these commercials are more memorable than others and have left an impression on us that persists even years later. From takes on beloved classics to commercials that leapt across the pond, we’ve identified ten of our favorite Christmas advertisements from over the years. Let us know what your favorites are in the comments.
“Holidays are Coming” – Coca-Cola
It’s a pretty American ad, but Coca-Cola’s “Holidays are Coming” in 1995 was an international hit for the popular soda brand. With a boy ringing a church bell to announce the coming of a Santa convoy of Coke trucks, it’s cheesy as anything, but it gets the point across—Coca-Cola is the drink of the holidays. It’s worth noting that the Santa Claus depicted on the trucks came from a series of ads beginning in 1933 that’s largely responsible for our modern understanding of what Santa looks like.
“Christmas Truce” – Sainsbury’s
One of the most famous moments of World War I, the 1914 Christmas Truce occurred when British and German forces on the Western front ceased hostilities to celebrate the holiday together. One hundred years later, Sainsbury’s partnered with the British Legion for this ad remembering the truce and advertising the sale of a chocolate bar whose proceeds went to charity.
“Monty the Penguin” – John Lewis
One important aspect of the holidays is looking after others, something the store John Lewis & Partners reminded us about in a 2014 ad featuring Monty the Penguin. As we see Monty’s friendship with a young boy, the boy comes to realize that Monty is lonely helps him find happiness on Christmas day. Hold on to the end for quite a touching twist.
“The Snowman” – Irn Bru
If you’ve never had Irn Bru, it’s a Scottish soda that’s orange in color and tastes a bit like bubble gum. Per Scottish custom, the brand’s 2006 commercial takes the piss out of beloved children’s classic The Snowman with the titular character taking the magical night flight with a boy who won’t share his soda. The site of some of Scotland’s greatest monuments stands in stark contrast to the parody lyrics and hilarious ending.
“English for Beginners” – Allegro
Allegro is a Polish website akin to eBay, and in 2016 they came out with one of the Internet’s most-watched commercials about a grandfather learning English. His humorous journey to learn another language (complete with putting sticky notes on everything and watching action movies) coincides with a real journey that shows you what it was all for, while including a subtle message about immigration.
“Mrs. Claus” – Marks & Spencer
Not to be outdone by the likes of Sainsbury’s and John Lewis, Marks & Spencer created their own memorable Christmas ad with this 2016 commercial showing what Santa’s Missus gets up to while he’s out delivering presents in the sleigh. It’s a touching piece showing that she’s certainly no slouch around the holidays and how she brings happiness to one family without her husband knowing.
“Mog’s Christmas Calamity” – Sainsbury’s
Cats are funny, right? Well, Mog is a cat who’s funnier than most. Based on the children’s books by Judith Kerr, Sainsbury’s debuted this ad in 2015 which brought Mog back from the dead (not literally) to sell the book Mog’s Christmas Calamity as a fundraiser for Save the Children. While everything goes quite pear-shaped for Mog and the Thomas Family, the holiday is saved thanks to their neighbors’ Christmas generosity.
“Bears” – Heathrow
Christmas is one of the busiest holidays for traveling every year, so Heathrow Airport did their own ad last year depicting a pair of old teddy bears. There’s a nice juxtaposition between the bears and the actual humans in the ad that helps make its themes relatable. By the end, it becomes a surprisingly powerful message about love, family, and memory that reaches people at any age.
“Mistletoe” – Yellow Pages
Seems like forever ago that we actually needed a phone book to find someone’s number. This Yellow Pages commercial goes all the way back to 1992 and depicts two children playfully kissing under the mistletoe. With the boy just a little too short to reach his holiday sweetie, he comes up with an ingenious use of the company’s product to make his Christmas romance happen.
“Man on the Moon” – John Lewis
Certainly one of the most endearing ads on this list, John Lewis sought to remind viewers in 2015 that not everyone has someone with whom they can spend the holidays. In fact, Age UK estimated that approximately a million elderly persons spend the holiday by themselves, including this ads man on the moon, who befriends a young girl looking at him from her telescope.