#12 – “Mrs Claus” – M&S (2016)

What does Mrs Claus do while Santa travels the world delivering gifts? We finally know, thanks to M&S’s 2016 Christmas campaign. The ad features stylish Mrs Claus driving a snowmobile and piloting a helicopter to get from Lapland to London to deliver a gift for a missed letter. It was about time that Mrs Claus [...]

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#11 – “Christmas Magic” – ASDA (2019)

Imagine if your town was once home to ‘Britain’s worst Christmas tree’. Residents of Tyldesley, Wigan were understandably upset when the town’s Christmas tree was voted the worst in the country in 2016, but ASDA brought some festive cheer to the town as it was chosen as the filming location of the supermarket chain’s Christmas [...]

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#10 – “Gift Guide” – We Work (2016)

It can be a challenge for B2B companies to promote and engage with clients over the Christmas period. Generally, you can’t get away with being too ‘salesy’, but it’s still important to make an effort to reach out to clients and maintain relationships over the holidays. Consider taking a leaf out of We Work’s book. [...]

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#9 – Truce – Sainsbury’s (2014)

This advert is based on a famous story from the time of the First World War. On Christmas Day 1914, British and German troops held a truce and met in No Man’s Land to play football, exchange gifts and take photographs. What makes the advert even more heart-breaking was that this famous story is largely [...]

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#8 – “Where you shop matters” – Visa (2019)

Let’s be clear: Christmas shopping is hardly Christmas shopping without sprinting through the maelstrom of chaos that is town centre on Christmas eve and engaging in a tug of war over the last Jamie Oliver cook book. Shopping online may be more convenient, but it’s just not the same. What did Visa get right? Timing [...]

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#7 – “Santa’s hacked!” – Norton (2015)

Anti-virus software brand Norton showed how multi-part adverts can bring fantastic results with its 2015 Christmas campaign – a series of three 60-second videos in which Santa gets hacked. The humorous videos appeared across multiple outlets including Mashable, Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and were supported by native articles, infographics and social content. Why did it work? [...]

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#6 – “Santa Tracker” – Google (2004 onwards)

Santa Tracker is an annual Christmas-themed entertainment programme that allows users to follow Santa on Google Maps on Christmas eve as he makes his journey around the world. Additional activities and games, including ones that teach basic coding, are added throughout December. It’s an unusual campaign, but it certainly works and brings a huge amount [...]

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#5 – “Christmas Miracle” – WestJet (2013)

Canadian airline WestJet surprised 250 passengers by making their “Christmas wish” come true. Santa Claus appeared on life-size screens at boarding gates in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario and asked passengers what they wanted for Christmas, while airline staff hiding just out of sight took notes. Once the planes took off, WestJet staff rushed around to [...]

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#4 – “Heimkommen (homecoming)” – Edeka (2015)

An elderly father is facing spending another Christmas alone as his adult children, scattered across the globe, tell him that they can’t make it this year, so he fakes his own death and funeral to bring them together for Christmas. The German supermarket’s Christmas campaign video and accompanying social hashtag (#heimkommen) went viral and caused [...]

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#2 – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid (1984)

Has any fundraising campaign ever been as successful as Band Aid? They kickstarted celebrity involvement in charity campaigns, an initiative that is still going strong today.

The super-group Band Aid was formed in 1984, led by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, and included the biggest names in British and Irish music at the time. They released “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to raise funds for the victims of famine in Ethiopia. The single went straight to number one and is still played at Christmas time. The campaign inspired other similar ventures, such as Comic Relief and a cover version of the song was released in 2014 by Band Aid 30.

Why a Christmas single? We believe it’s because of the seasonal consumer mindset and Christmas spirit, meaning more people are likely to buy a single or donate to a good cause, and the link to Christmas also means that there’s an excuse to play it every year. A regular single may have faded out of memory.

What can we learn from the group’s success?

Celebrity works. Non-profits in particular trend towards involving celebrities or influencers in big campaigns – their popularity helps to spread the message and encourage people to donate. While celebrities may become ambassadors for non-profits, it may be expensive to partner with a celebrity for a brand campaign. Some brands have made good use of influencer marketing – such as fashion brand Pretty Little Thing’s 2018 Christmas campaign, featuring influencers of all levels.