The Changing Face of the Christmas Ad

From epic storytelling to political statements, 

we round-up this year’s big retail Christmas ads…

It would be pretty hard not to have noticed that it’s the time of year when the  retail giants, including John Lewis, Aldi, Sainsbury’s and M&S, unveil their Christmas adverts with the intent of winning the hearts of the general public and boosting their sales.


Over the past decade or so, Christmas advertising has become a lot more about storytelling, just like the religious event itself, rather than simply showcasing a catalogue of presents that no one needs, but that kids excitedly add to their Santa lists.


Today the Christmas advert is today very much ‘a thing’, and it is almost as if the moment the iconic Coca Cola truck appears on our screens, together with the much-anticipated feel good ads, the festivities have begun. 


2018 saw a spark of genius as John Lewis teamed up with Sir Elton John and created a retro, tear jerker of an ad which sails through the icon’s back catalogue right to the moment he received his first piano on Christmas morning as a little boy.


Cynics might think this was a stunt to boost sales of the national treasure’s farewell tour, but as one mum said, “Yes, the John Lewis ad might been known as the ‘Elton John one’ but our nine-year-old has now asked for piano lessons for Christmas and I can’t get the Rocket Man out of my head, so it is working on many levels.”


Sainsbury’s have been clever and pulled on the heart strings of parents, and grandparents, who have sat and watched their little darlings in the school play, hoping they will remember their lines and keep smiling. The supermarket’s ad might not feature a single brussel sprout, but as 60 children blast out the New Radicals’ ‘You Only Get What You Give’, and one nervous eight year totally smashes her performance, there is hardly a dry eye in the house.


Boots have also gone for the feel-good family vibe as a teenager and her mother bond over make-up as Robbie Williams ‘She’s the One’. Very have run with an animated story of space obsessed Elsie, and M&S have used their ambassador, Holly Willoughby, as the star of a ‘Bridget Jones’ parody, which is bound to strike a chord or two across the generations.


With so much choice and diversity out there, it might not be immediately obvious how these adverts are actually driving sales, but when you look a little closer, it is the emotional impact that is getting brands the loyalty they so desperately need right now.


CLICKON’s Creative Director, Benjamin Potter, said, “Businesses really have come up trumps this year and are pulling out all the stops when it comes to their Christmas advertising campaigns. Retail is struggling, especially on the High Street, and given that only the fittest will survive, people know that they need to connect with consumers. What we are seeing across the board, is the telling of relatable, emotive stories and that is powerful because when a message really resonates with someone, they are more likely going to want to be a part of that brand and stick with them.”


He further commented, “One 2018 surprise, was the Iceland ad that explored the impact of the palm oil trade, and while it was banned from TV, it went viral on social media and shows just how people are now consuming advertising and that political agendas can be conveyed. For me the real winner has to be the £50 film from a previously unknown videographer, Phil Beastall. He posted his own poignant ad about the love of a mother and son on Facebook, and over five million views later, people are calling for John Lewis to use him for their 2019 campaign, and that could be a smart move.”


We might be in the throes of Brexit and the future feels somewhat uncertain for many, but what we do know, is that Christmas comes but once a year and while 2018 has dazzled us with a national treasure and a call for environmental action, 2019 will more than likely go one step further.

Notes to Editors

CLICKON are content creators and performance marketers. Storytellers and growth hackers.

CLICKON create ground breaking branded content that delivers results and reaches target audiences with specific, measurable outcomes. Utilising a joined-up approach, CLICKON delivers fast, agile video campaigns with performance backed delivery across a range of audience channels. 

Our in-house divisions, Studios, Social LABS and Digital Networks foster unrivalled speed of delivery and reporting efficiencies for clients who need to respond faster in the digital era.

Our own channels ensure we are at the cutting edge of audience behaviour and trends when consulting and advising with clients. With offices across London, New York and Los Angeles, CLICKON is the missing link for partners looking to scale digital marketing with tangible, visible results.

Our new way of thinking has delivered successful partnerships with brands including RedBull, Adidas, Y&R, Americas Navy, Acer, General Tires & Microsoft.

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Our new way of thinking has delivered successful partnerships with brands including RedBull, Adidas, Y&R, Americas Navy, Acer, General Tires & Microsoft.

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For more details, interviews and images please contact Ruby Nightingale at


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