High Ten: 2016’s Best Christmas Ads

December 5, 2016 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Watch this lot and feel the seasonal spirit fill you up.

Traditions are so quickly established these days. This whole Christmas commercial phenomenon wasn’t a thing ten years ago. Now it’s a rabid frenzy of consumerist propaganda. Two years ago we were just doing a regular monthly High Five in December, but last year we decided there was just too much good stuff to fit in and now that’s an annual event. Have a watch and see if you agree with our top ten. And if you want to hear more on the subject tomorrow, register for FOCUS for free and come to hear our panel of expert Christmas commercial makers talk about it. 

Brand: Aldi
Title:  Kevin the Carrot
Production Companies: Psyop, Stink
Directors: Todd Mueller, Kylie Matulick
Production Company Producer: Alicia Farren
Director of Photography: Richard Mott
Ad Agency: McCann Manchester
Creative Directors: Dave Price, Neil Lancaster, Rob Doubal
Creatives: Clive Davis, Andy Fenton, Dean Webb
Agency Producer: Lucy Moore
Editing Company:  Marshall Street Editors
Editor: John Mayes

Aldi – Kevin the Carrot

Who’d have imagined a carrot could be so adorable? Christmas is a time for all sorts of anthropomorphic heartstring tugging and sometimes it can be a bit of a stretch, but the quality of Psyop’s animation here really does the trick. We’ve all seen Night Before Christmas ideas like this before, rhyming couplets abounding, but this one is just so sweet and the little comic touches are so spot-on that it doesn’t matter.

 

Brand: Amazon
Title: Vicar and Imam
Production Company: HLA
Director: Simon Ratigan
Production Company Producer: Mike Wells
Director of Photography: Ian Murray
Ad Agency: Joint
Creatives: Steve Williams, Adrian Lim
Agency Producer: Claudio Gorini
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Bruce Townsend
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Jon Clarke, Phil Bolland
Post Production Company: The Mill

Amazon – Vicar and Imam

After a year in which humanity has demonstrated itself to be more divided than we thought, it’s heartening to think that huge, transnational megacorporations like Amazon want us all to put our differences aside and focus on the things that unite us – in this case, the inevitable descent into decrepitude and pain that comes with age. Cynicism aside, it’s great to see a Muslim character depicted in such a loving way and in such a sweet story. With hate crimes on the rise, brands with marketing budgets as big as Amazon’s can make a difference in the direction of acceptance and unity.

 

Brand: Apple
Title: Frankie’s Holiday
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Lance Acord
Ad Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

Apple – Frankie’s Holiday

In wake of Brexit and Trump, Apple seem to be feeling just as unsettled by the world as Amazon are. Their message of festive togetherness and acceptance is the same, but put across in a completely different way. This one’s trying its hardest to make you cry. At two minutes, the pacing is just slow enough to squeeze emotion out of each moment.The timing is powerful. It’s a heartwarming little film and the product’s role in it is just about acceptable.

 

Brand: Burberry
Title: The Tale of Thomas Burberry
Production Company: Black Label Productions
Director: Asif Kapadia
Production Company Producer: Jules Fennell
Director of Photography: Dion Beebe
Creative Director: Christopher Bailey
Editing Company: Intermission
Editor: Johnny Rayner
Music Company: Pusher
Post Production Company: The Mill

Burberry – The Tale of Thomas Burberry

There’s nothing explicitly Christmassy about this film, but it somehow fits in with the general seasonal vibe so we’ve included it here. It’s stunning. No surprises there, considering the ridiculous cast and star director Asif Kapadia. Making a film that feels like the trailer for an epic period drama is an ambitious idea and it could have ended up a naff waste of money. Obviously it didn’t. It’s amazing.

 

Brand: Heathrow
Title: Coming Home for Christmas
Production Company: Outsider
Director: Dom&Nic
Production Company Producer: John Madsen
Director of Photography: Alex Barber
Ad Agency: Havas
Creative Director: Ben Mooge
Creatives: Daniel Bolton, Barnaby Packham
Agency Producer: Kiri Carch
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Ed Cheesman
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

Heathrow – Coming Home for Christmas

Another weepy one, anyone? Well, you’ve got to have a few otherwise it wouldn’t feel like Christmas. Anyway, it’s happy tears this time round. True to form, Dom&Nic have told a very sweet story here, full of little moments that we can all recognise. And there’s something very festive about airports, even if they’re usually just soulless corporate landing pads. It probably has something to do with Love, Actually.

 

Brand: H&M
Title: Come Together
Production Companies: The Directors Bureau, Riff Raff
Director: Wes Anderson
Production Company Producer: Julie Sawyer
Director of Photography: Bruno Delbonnel
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Till Diestel, Tim Vance, Paul Knott
Agency Producer: Lucie Georgeson
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Music Supervisors: Randall Poster, Abi Leland
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

H&M – Come Together

Practically everyone is advertising is a Wes Anderson fan. So getting to see a little festive slice of Wes-land two years since his last film is a Christmas present in itself. Props to H&M. They’ve obviously spent a lot of money on this film in order to associate themselves with the aura of cool the director has around him. There’s not much in the way of plot, but it’s just so warm and Christmassy and stylish and quirky and exactly like a scene from a Wes Anderson Christmas movie. We’re so glad it exists.

 

Brand: John Lewis
Title: Buster the Boxer
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producer: Nick Goldsmith
Director of Photography: Joost Van Gelder
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Richard Brim, Ben Tollett
Creatives: Ben Stilitz, Colin Booth
Agency Producer: Panos Louca
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Rick Russell
Music Company: Leland Music
Music Supervisors: Abi Leland, Ed Bailie
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: MPC

John Lewis – Buster the Boxer

Several years on from the first big John Lewis Yuletide extravaganza, the department store are still the most anticipated player in the Christmas commercial game. Expectations were high, adam&eveDDB suggested that they’d be eschewing the ‘sadvertising’ approach this year and they delivered with a film that walks the delicate line between moving and silly. It’s warm, relatable and funny and doesn’t lay any heavy moral message on us at the end, which is refreshing.

 

Brand: Marks & Spencer
Title: Christmas With Love
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Tom Hooper
Production Company Producer: Molly Pope
Director of Photography: Justin Brown
Ad Agency: RKCR/Y&R
Creative Directors: Jon Burley, Danielle Sandler
Creatives: Alice Burton, Psembi Kinstan
Agency Producer: Danielle Sandler
Editing Company: The Quarry
Editor: Paul Watts
Music Company: Native
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Parv Thind
Post Production Company: The Mill

Marks & Spencer – Christmas With Love

The strategy here seems to be to make the most Christmassy film ever. They’ve just thrown it all in there: reindeer, snow, cosy fireplaces, Santa Claus, helicopters... It’s impossible to resist the festive spirit. Focusing on the great woman behind Father Christmas was a brilliant choice too. It’s about time she got the respect she deserves. With Tom Hooper directing the whole thing feels classy and cinematic, a real treat for those snuggled up in front of the TV this winter.

 

Brand: McDonald’s
Title: Juliette the Doll
Production Company: Independent
Director: Gary Freedman
Production Company Producer: Jason Kemp
Director of Photography: Jan Velicky
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett
Creative Directors: Pete Heyes, Matt Lee
Creatives: Phillip Meyler, Darren Keff
Agency Producer: Lou Pegg
Editing Company: The Play Room
Editor: Adam Spivey
Music Company: Woodwork Music
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Robson
Post Production Company: MPC

McDonald’s – Juliette the Doll

McDonald’s doesn’t have a big claim on Christmas tradition. Department stores and supermarkets have genuinely important roles to play in putting together a good Christmas, but burgers and fries are very much optional extras. This film cleverly makes McDonald’s feel like a naturally festive place though, by tapping up the sense of togetherness the brand has – it’s a place where people of all classes, creeds and backgrounds come together to eat in warmth and convenience. Throw in a heartwarming story about a neglected toy and you’ve got a festive joy for all the family.

 

Brand: Waitrose
Title: Coming Home
Production Company: Rogue Films
Director: Sam Brown
Production Company Producer: James Howland
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Ben Tollett, Richard Brim
Creatives: John Long, Matt Gay
Agency Producer: Jack Bayley
Editing Company: Trim
Editor: Paul Hardcastle
Music Company: Leland Music
Music Supervisors: Abi Leland, Ed Bailie
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Jon Clarke, Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: The Mill

Waitrose – Coming Home

This film feels exactly like a Christmas card bought from Waitrose. Classy, wholesome and refined, it’s so incredibly on brand. On the anthropomorphic scale, birds are a hard one to get right. They aren’t the most emotional of animals, but Sam Brown’s deft storytelling touch, combined with the expert virtual animal creation skills of The Mill, has managed to make us feel something about this little robin as he makes his perilous journey home.

 

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