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Holidays are coming: The best Christmas adverts ever aired

What makes a memorable advent advert? Is it music, snow, beautiful women wearing a winter collection, or familiarity resulting from years of re-use? We know our own thoughts on that, so if you’re interested read on for our all time favourites.
This year’s Marks & Spencer TV campaign, featuring famous faces from X Factor singing When You Wish Upon A Star, arrived to a mixed response. Which is surprising, as the company usually gets it spot on. This got us thinking, what are the ingredients for yuletide marketing success?
After extensive research into this important issue, with a few hours whiled away indulging in forgotten gems (ZX Spectrum at Curry’s- say no more), we came up with ten that, for various reasons, will stay with you long after the tree comes down. Some are clever, others star-studded, and one ran for so long it’s hard to believe they don’t still air it. But enough enticing intros, let’s get on with the list. Without further ado then, we present Smoking Gun PR’s Top Ten Christmas Adverts; a veritable selection box of seasonal brand delights.
Coca Cola ‘Holidays Are Coming
This entry consistently ranks as the UK’s favourite Christmas advert of all time, which isn’t surprising as it comes from the giant that gave Santa Claus his red outfit, and as such the marketing department definitely knows a thing or two about festivities.

Toys R Us ‘A Magical Place
Despite often being housed in warehouses we all have childhood memories of being taken to the Christmas wonderland that is Toys R Us, largely because of adverts like this classic early 1990s effort, and its somewhat evocative theme tune.

Quality Street ‘The Lollipop Lady
British tastes have changed in the last 20 years. But, regardless of any 75% cocoa, spice-infused Ecuadorian products, when we think of Christmas Quality Street is still not far from our minds, and, with a little recollection, neither is this commercial.

Guinness ‘White Christmas
Known for some of the greatest adverts ever aired on TV (see the now-legendary Surfer campaign), Ireland’s premier alcoholic export again struck gold with one of the best non-Bing Crosby White Christmas productions of all time.

John Lewis ‘Gifts You Can’t Wait To Give
Trying to decide which ad to include from one of the most advent-aware brands in Britain was always going to be difficult, until it unveiled what may be its finest to date, ensuring John Lewis really will make our Christmas in 2011.
Irn Bru ‘The Snowman
Irn Bru doesn’t do many adverts, and before this had never run a festive campaign, so top marks for getting it right first time by taking a staple of Christmas TV and applying an amusing twist in keeping with the irreverent Scottish brand.

Argos ‘Christmas Shopping
Focusing on the wonders of this special time of year is fine, but what if your brand would benefit more from highlighting the hassles? Argos and its home delivery service certainly understood how to target that niche with this slightly cynical clip.
Ferrero Rocher ‘The Ambassador’s Reception
Who is the Ambassador? Would he really serve platters of Ferrero Rocher at his reception? Who cares when, thanks to poor dubbing, terrible acting, and a lifespan of years, this advert managed to define an era in confectionary history.

M&Ms ‘Meet Santa Claus
An average TV ad is 30 seconds, but M&Ms secured a place on our list of classic Christmas commercials in just half that time by combining their iconic characters with Father Christmas, and ending up with this smile-inducing festive message.
Marks & Spencer ‘Christmas Wouldn’t Be Christmas Without
It’s got a twinkling soundtrack, and a bunch of famous faces from Wallace & Gromit to Steven Fry and Joanna Lumley delivering lines with inoffensive, though sometimes saucy double meanings. For those reasons we loved M&S in 2009.

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