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Our favourite 2020 Christmas ads

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

This year has been completely different to ever before and a lot of people’s lives have changed in one way or another, from being in financial distress to missing loved ones. It is no surprise then that Christmas ads this year look a little different too, a lot focusing on more than just the material gifts and tugging at the heartstrings.

A recent British study conducted by Unruly and Tremor video, found that 47% of respondents wanted 2020 Christmas adverts to make them feel happy, 44% make them feel warm and 31% nostalgic with only 17% wanting a funnier ad.

Source: Waitrose/John Lewis via

This year, the famous John Lewis Christmas ad was a collaboration with Waitrose. The ad, Give a Little Love draws on how a small act of kindness can go around and impact a lot of people. John Lewis and Waitrose are also hoping to raise £4 million for two charities, one helping those facing food poverty and one helping parents who need support. The long awaited ad almost didn’t happen as they didn’t know if it was right to produce such a big ad this year, however James Bailey, Executive Director of Waitrose explained, ‘FareShare and Home-Start told us how much of a difference this campaign could make, both on a financial level and in raising awareness of the incredibly important work they do with families across the UK.’

One ad that has already made me tear up twice is the global Coca -Cola Christmas ad, which sees a dad go to the ends of the earth to deliver his daughter’s letter to Santa. They even made time to include Coca-Cola’s famous truck. The ad was directed by Kiwi Taika Waititi who won an Academy Award this year for his film Jojo Rabbit.

Disney celebrated a 40 year partnership Make-a-Wish foundation with a heart-warming short film about a family through the years. Tasia Filippatos, SVP Disney EMEA, comments: 'Christmas is a time for giving and giving back, and we're delighted to debut this festive ad campaign supporting our long-term charity partner Make-A-Wish®. Our goal was to tell a universal story that inspires through the themes of family, love and special holiday traditions. We hope that Disney fans enjoy the short.'

Amazon drew on some of the truths we faced this year, like online learning, cancelled events and lockdowns and shows how ‘the show must go on’. Simon Morris, VP Global Creative at Amazon explains, 'Our TV ad is inspired by, and pays tribute to, the unbeatable human spirit and the power of community that we have witnessed so often this year’.

For some much needed humour, Plenty acknowledges the only Christmas necessity, paper towels. The spot named 'Xmess' follows a family Christmas day celebrations and all the messes that happen throughout the day. A very relatable spot showing the less glitzy side of Christmas.

Looking closer to home, a lot of Christmas ads in Australia are focusing more on humour, which isn’t surprising as unlike other countries in the world, our COVID peak seems to be far behind, so we can look back with a little humour.

Aldi has done it again with a hilarious spot of synchronised-swimming-leotard-wearing Santas encouraging Aussies to ‘Go full Christmas’. Dantie van der Merwe and David Fraser, creative directors, BMF commented: “The world seemed in need of a ridiculous escape, so it felt like a good time to reveal Santa’s hidden talents.”

Myer focuses on all the occasions we’ve had to miss this year due to covid, from Mother’s day and Easter, to Weddings and birthdays and encourages Aussies to make this holiday season, ‘Bigger than Christmas’ with an original song. Jim Curtis and Ryan Fitzgerald, executive creative directors, Clemenger BBDO commented “Out of the mayhem comes the opportunity for Australians to have a Christmas like never before—to cram all that we have missed into one chaotically wonderful day. And there’s only one store where you can find the perfect gifts for such a rare occasion: Myer.’

However, some brands did opt for more emotive and heart-warming ads, like Australia Post’s Spread the Merry campaign which similar to John Lewis’ ad, highlights small acts of kindness.

Toys R Us ad highlights how different and tough this year has looked for families and encourages them to make Christmas one to remember. The ad shows families working from home, virtual catch ups, stay home drawings and Spoon villages, to paint a picture of a familiar year for lots of Aussie families.

Big W also opted for a more emotive and less traditional Christmas ad this year, by shedding light on those families that had to miss out on their normal Christmases last year due to the bushfires. The ad focuses on one boy and their community (along with Big W) bringing a Christmas surprise to his dad.

Salvos ad via The General Store sees Santa shut down his toy factory and gifting pre-loved gifts from Salvos. The spot not only highlights how shopping at Salvos is more sustainable but also the impact of the donations to the greater community. Salvos report revealed two-thirds of Aussies are reassessing Christmas due to financial concerns.

Sylvia Jahn

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