Christmas adverts 2018: who’s top of the tree?

Digital Marketing

November 21, 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (well nearly!) Each year sees the tussle between some of the biggest and most well-known brands for the coveted Christmas advert crown. The chance to spread Christmas cheer, showcase creative flare, all whilst attempting to rack up views and trend online.

We give a run down on this year’s offerings featuring the thoughts of our Digital team as to who we think is top of the tree this year…


Thanks to a Sir David Attenborough, 2018 has shone the light on the devastating effects we are having on our planet and is the chosen theme for Iceland’s Christmas message this year. As a palm oil-free chain, the food retailer (in collaboration with Greenpeace) tells the story of a young orangutan. Voiced by Emma Thompson, it shows the damage caused by palm oil production destroying forests and orangutans’ homes and claiming 25 of the species’ lives every single day. Despite being banned from TV for being ‘too political’, the advert has attracted huge attention, with over 30 million views online and backed by several celebrities including James Corden. Thought-provoking and powerful, the magnitude of the reception received by this advert ties into 2018 perfectly. In a year where plastic straws were banned, it seems the message focuses on how we can give the greatest gift of all – kindness to our planet – this Christmas #NoPalmOilChristmas.

Elliot, Digital Marketing Manager: From the YouTube video title to the Twitter foray surrounding the hashtag #NoPalmOilChristmas, the word ‘banned’ is the first thing that comes to mind when viewing this Christmas advert. Why? For apparently, it is too politically charged, taking aim at the competitor supermarkets providing ‘Fake News’ in demonstrating that they use unethical methods to create its produce. Whilst this advert does lack the celebration of Christmas that excites us all, it sends out a strong message that during this time of giving, receiving and bringing our families together, we should also reflect on the real issues in the world. It creates the sentiment that Christmas is a time to remember that we all have a responsibility to protect the earth that we all live on and help provide a better platform for future generations.

Digital Team Ratings out of 10
Memorability: 10
Originality: 9.5
Christmas Cheer: 3


The Christmas nativity – a highlight for parents and children alike throughout the festive season. This sweet all-singing all-dancing tale, directed by the Greatest Showman Director, Michael Gracey, is a story of confidence. The heartwarming portrayal of a young girl dressed as a star singing the 90s classic Get What You Give makes for an uplifting 2-minute segment. However, comparisons have been drawn to John Lewis and Waitrose’s September offering which showed a school play belting out Queen’s hit Bohemian Rhapsody. So, is Sainsbury’s Big Night a copycat or Christmas classic? The jury’s out.

Helena, Content Manager: The Sainsbury’s Xmas advert has been my favourite for the last couple of years and this year hasn’t let me down! Even if that’s just because of the child dressed as a plug jumping into the wall to turn on the Christmas lights…! #PlugLife

Digital Team Ratings

Memorability: 8
Originality: 4
Christmas Cheer: 9


Recycling their lead character #KevinTheCarrot from the past two years, the discount supermarket giant shows the classic good vs evil tale and even features the infamous Coca-Cola truck with Kevin’s name. Definitely aimed at a younger audience, it’s a fun twist and even has a healthy message (a parent crowd pleaser). Aldi will share Kevin’s adventures with its series of bedtime fairy tales over the festive period, so keep an eye out for more from the low-cost supermarket.

Myriam, Digital Marketing Assistant: As a fan of everything-Aldi, even the Christmas advert has made it straight to my number one. From capturing the holiday spirit to recreating classic fairy tales “à la Aldi”, Kevin the Carrot and family are a firm favourite who hopefully will continue to grace our screens for the next few years.

Digital Team Ratings
Memorability: 5
Originality: 7
Christmas Cheer: 6.5

John Lewis

Hotly-anticipated John Lewis had some way to go to top its previous efforts, but 2018’s big budget star lead fails to leave an impact. Instead, this year feels like somewhat of a departure from the norm. Rather than reworking a classic Christmas tune, we are treated to Elton John’s epic ballad Your Song, as the narrative flashes back through his career – from a celebrated musician to a young aspiring pianist. As we near the end, the ad comes full circle, bringing us back to the Christmas he first received a Piano – a gift which would go on to have a profound impact. It’s all a little lacklustre. #EltonJohnLewis

Jake, Digital Marketing Executive: All in all, although this year’s ad doesn’t feel quite as ‘Christmassy’ as previous campaigns and almost seems more like a trailer for Elton John’s upcoming film than a cheery festive anecdote, it still manages to hit the emotional beats John Lewis’ Christmas ads have become synonymous with.

Digital Team Ratings

Memorability: 5
Originality: 6
Christmas Cheer: 4


A take on Robbie Williams’ She’s The One adapted to She’s Me Mum, the advert shows a mother and daughter bickering in the run-up to Christmas as they clash over hairstyles, perfume, and make-up. In a heart-warming turn of events, the daughter sees her mother singing carols (conveniently directly outside a Boots store), and this experience causes her to see her Mum in a different light. The advert ends by celebrating the teen and her mother’s unique bond through the gift of a Boots No7 lipstick. The advert is definitely near the top of the cheese scale and is a plug for the range of products from the drug store giant #GiftsThatGetThem.

Rachel, Digital Marketing Executive: Admittedly I have found myself singing ‘She’s me mum’, but the message for this year seemed a little lost in translation- I just didn’t really get it? (Ironic considering the campaign hashtag!) Compared to previous years, this definitely isn’t my favourite and feels a bit too try-hard, sorry Boots!

Digital Team Ratings
Memorability: 3
Originality: 4
Christmas Cheer: 5


They’ve pulled out the stars for this year’s advert featuring Queen of daytime telly Holly Willoughby and a cameo from model David Gandy. The retailer takes us through the #ChristmasMustHaves moments for families and, although it’s rather short at just one minute long, it a ‘does what is says on the tin’ affair.

Craig Freeman, Innovation and Development Director: There is no big idea in the M&S advert this year. There is no central character, no merchandise being sold off the back of it and no deep and meaningful message. Instead, they focus on how M&S can help add a bit of magic through the festive season from decorating your home, hosting family meals, looking good at all the parties and nights out, and recovering from them in your pjs. A great way to show the diversity of their product range, but it’s not going to set social media alight.

Digital Team Ratings

Memorability: 4
Originality: 5
Christmas Cheer: 7

Heathrow Airport

Christmas, a time for families to come together and the return of the #HeathrowBears. This reunion-filled bonanza is a sweet offering from the UK’s largest airport. Last year saw the reunion of two elderly bears on their travels and this year focuses on the same theme, with them returning from the sunshine states to the UK to spend Christmas with loved ones before transforming into real life people. It definitely does pull at the heartstrings and reminds us all of the true meaning of Christmas.

Helena, Content Manager: I’m not going to lie, this advert has made me cry each time I’ve watched it – and that’s what Christmas is all about! Okay, maybe not quite, but this advert is so endearing and full of Christmas spirit, sprinkled with laugh-out-loud relatable moments (the bear knocking over all the biscuits in duty free is me) and a breath of fresh air amidst the celeb-filled, convoluted storylines which some of the others offer.

Digital Team Ratings
Memorability: 7
Originality: 7.5
Christmas Cheer: 9

With a total of 23.5 out of 30, our winner for the best Christmas Advert of 2018 is Heathrow Airport! Have your say in our poll.