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The War of Christmas Ads

Jamie Beastall

Tearjerkers, mini movie or little moments of humour, the time for Christmas ads 2021 has come.

Christmas ads always represent an important branding effort with a considerable budget – but with all that cost and commotion, are even relevant anymore?

We asked the Climb Online team which Christmas ads they loved most… And with none of them having seen them on TV [as increasing numbers of consumers switch traditional TV viewing habits to video on demand], we urged them to watch them online, and let us know their thoughts, so we could pull together our War of Christmas Ads 2021.

So, go and grab your Starbucks red cup and see what you think of our favourite 3 Christmas ads of 2021 in no particular order:

Tesco

We’ll confess it, we are not a fan of mini movies around here. Ideal for a full integrated strategy in an omnichannel world a mini movie allows the brand to run a short version on television, but then drive search and YouTube traffic online. So, what’s the alternative to driving traffic from offline to online if you are not keen in investing in tear inducing long format? Well, one option would be controversy.

The Paris Hilton of 2021 Christmas ads. Tesco and BBH created a fast and engaging ad telling the story of a determined grandmother ready to win over any adversities to celebrate Christmas with her family. No challenging time, new variant or difficulties will stop us this year from celebrating with family and friends. Although vaccinated Santa speeding through customs instead of being quarantined thanks to his vaccine passport generated complaints and boycott threats, it also generated lots of attention, traffic, mentions, shares, and articles.  Winning move for the retailer?

ALDI

Aldi brings back Kevin the Carrot, but this time for an all fruit and vegetable rendition of Christmas Carrol. Ebanana Scrooge (not that bendy, despite Brexit) hates Christmas due to past trauma. Through a ghost vegetable visit he will discover the spirit of Christmas and join the celebration. What not to love about this ad: Puns, returning characters, animations and a Marcus Rashford guest appearance as Marcus Radishford makes it a great watch for adults and kids alike.

But what about online-offline interaction? Well, Aldi launched a full toy range based on the ad characters available for purchase both in store and online.

Aldi’s ad deserves additional kudos for the delightful easter egg of Cuthbert the Caterpillar getting arrested in the background echoing #caterpillargate. Brand Narrative at its very best.

JD Sports

Urban. Modern. Relatable. JD knows their audience well and stands out from the Christmas ads noise delivering a brilliant star-studded piece that celebrates youth culture.

Titled “Welcome to JD street” the ad follows a young boy running a last-minute errand to buy Turkey for his mom through a JD high street at the beat of “deserve the finest” a tune created specifically for the ad by Toddla T (feat.Shaybo).

Strolling through the JD high street, the boy passes through JD inspired storefronts ran by celebrities, sport stars, rappers, YouTubers, presenters that momentarily put their career aside to explore new paths on the shop floors.

What about offline- online interaction? Coherently with its target market, JD launched a Tik Tok challenge a Snapchat filter and a mockumentary that takes the audience behind closed doors of JD Street and into the dog groomers, Jama & Dapaah: King of Trims, featuring Maya Jama and Michael Dapa launched on their social channels.

JD Sports, turning 40 this year, shows to really know their consumers, their preference and created a fantastic, star studded, but relatable ad for them to enjoy. Audience engagement and co-creation done well.

Here is our War of Christmas Ad podium for 2021, but at the end of the day the real question is, how will Christmas Ads need to change to adapt to a growing audience that doesn’t watch TV anymore?

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