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Truffle’s guide to the good, the bad and the ugly Christmas ads

Christmas adverts in the UK have become the most anticipated time of the year for marketers nationwide. As Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, rightly put it:“in the US they have the Super Bowl, in the UK it is the Christmas ads. It’s where the big guns come out.”

It is an opportunity for companies to finish their year on a real festive high (and no that doesn’t mean smoking the Christmas tree).

The Advertising Association estimates that there will be £6.8 billion spent on this year’s seasonal advertising, which is a 4.7% increase on last year.

But although Christmas ads create conversations, they might not be as effective at boosting sales. Or at least, not as effective as all marketers hope so. conducted research that found that 6% of people said they liked some of the Christmas adverts but could never remember who they were for and 9% said they were actually put off by the adverts and deliberately avoided understanding the narrative behind them.

Below, we outline some of our favourite ads and others that didn’t quite make the Truffle’s “wow!”.


Aldi’s advert this year sees the return of its famous character, Kevin the Carrot, in its episodic trend of Christmas commercials. Kevin land himself in hot water with a bullyish gang of brussel sprouts, where we see the introduction of new character, Russell Sprout and his gang of Leafy Blinders... sounds familiar?

The ad has racked up over 3.1m in 15 days since its launch, perhaps partly owed to the fact that this story builds up on Aldi’s previous Christmas campaigns and shows the beloved Kevin, which the brand first introduced in 2016.

Aldi’s Christmas battle is not won or lost for its television spots, but instead, for its quick and reactive social media. The brand publicised its reaction to John Lewis’ 2019 Christmas campaign on Twitter, which prompted people to say the grocery brand has “won Christmas”.

Hopping onto the #ExcitableEdgar craze, Aldi shared an image of the John Lewis character holding a carrot, suggesting Kevin the Carrot made an unapproved cameo in its Christmas advert. Contextually, this also made a subtle dig at Tesco, following its miscommunication mishap with Mel B, when the Spice Girl star @’ed the brand on Insta for using her image without her consent.

Well played, Aldi. We do like a bit of social media strategy here at Truffle!


The Sainsbury’s advert has divided the public this year. Sainsbury’s has followed a Charles Dickens narrative and focuses on a young orphan named Nicholas, wrongly accused of stealing from the Sainsbury’s store. In the end, however, he turns out to be the child who will one day be Father Christmas. The ad is also a nod to the 150th anniversary of Sainsbury’s.

While commenting on the campaign, the brand’s head of broadcast marketing, Laura Boothby, said that Sainsbury’s refuses to make comparisons year-on-year, we think this is one of the most exciting parts of the Christmas advert extravaganza. We do think though, that the commercial is not as strong as last year’s ad, featuring the infamous Plug Boy, which people loved so much. If it’s any consolation, Plug Boy did in fact make an appearance in the 2019 advert.

We think it would be sensible for us all to assume that Plug-Boy is now relishing in a career of his own, most likely living in Hollywood and with rates too high for Sainsbury’s. Follow the dream, Plug-Boy. Follow the dream.

Stella Artois

Before you begin to think we’re actually just bah humbug, the Stella Artois commercial comes along to save Christmas, which makes us think: when doesn’t alcohol save the day?

We’re just kidding. Drink responsibly.

The campaign named “Moments Worth Making”, hopes to inspire us to rediscover the pleasure of connecting with those who truly matter. It is a heartwarming and fulfilling story of a father and son reconnecting and finding unexpected joy together whilst doing the dishes, which becomes a yearly father - son tradition.

Stella Artois’ VP of marketing, Lara Krug said: “During the holiday season, we know it is more important than ever to bring people together and we want to help people recognise their ability to make moments with their loved ones go even further. We wanted to tell a story that we felt many people could connect with – a simple act that turned into a tradition for years to come.”

Krug could not have explained it any better. The advert is quite simplistic but the message travels far and motivates you to make more of an effort with those around you as Christmas is all about sharing the love.


IKEA’s first-ever UK Christmas ad which sees a family getting heckled by various ornaments (voiced over by grime artist and MC, D Double E) around their house who use rap as a form of communication to make the couple realise they live in what could be considered as a pigsty and they need to vamp their pad.

The advert opens with a family of three entertaining themselves on their own devices, until she receives a text message that reads: ‘dinner at yours tonight?’. This then prompts the realisation that their home is in serious need for redecoration, all before a kitten ornament turns to them and says: “I must confess, this place ain’t blessed! This place is a mess.”

But truth be told, these are words of wisdom from the kitty (and IKEA’s marketing team) and inspires a cleaning montage, where we see the family spruce up their home thanks to IKEA furniture and a bit of elbow grease.

IKEA’S UK and Ireland county marketing manager, Sarah Green, said: “the idea was born from the common feeling, that along with the seasonal joys, a lot of us feel a looming sense of dread when it comes to hosting others with many of us feel ashamed of our homes over the Christmas period.”

This is when insight was discovered that drove the campaign idea, Green believes: “every home can and should be worthy of a get-together and that with a little imagination, some clever products and ideas, there’s no reason not to be proud to invite your nearest and dearest over.”

The campaign’s objective is to inspire us to fall back in love with our homes and get them ready for any occasion, silencing the critics once and for all.

John Lewis & Waitrose

Last but by no means least… ENTER THE DRAGON (if you know old-school garage you should get this reference).

John Lewis & Waitrose are counting on an excitable, toddler-sized dragon called Edgar to put people in the festive spirit this year and I think it is fair to say it has worked. Edgar is so adorable it makes us want to explode.

For a budget of £7million, we’re surprised the dragon hasn’t had some behavioural therapy but it is his clumsiness that has made him such a lovable rogue and subject to multi million views within a week of release.

The advert features a young girl and Excitable Edgar the Dragon, who cannot contain his excitement for Christmas, but there’s a catch. His undeniable excitement can lead to unfortunate events, which involves spurting uncontrollable balls of fire that disrupt the Christmas joy.

However, the story has a wholesome ending, with Edgar using his fire to light the Christmas pudding at the village feast.

In summary..

As Christmas content start flooding our timelines in November (and earlier), we realise it doesn’t take long for Susan, 53, from Yorkshire to tell us all: “For God’s sake, these Christmas adverts seem to get earlier and earlier every year!.”

Well, Susan, we appreciate your frustration but we can tell you now, there is logical insight behind this. Research from Facebook found out that, in 2018 43% of shoppers started their Christmas shopping in November or earlier and 50% of the shopping is completed by 3rd December. So, this really is primetime to shoot your shot in the industry.

Furthermore, it doesn’t just end here. Once the Christmas campaign is live, it is essential for businesses to make their social accounts known more and interact more with the audience. This is because there is an extra 5% of Christmas shoppers who are more likely to buy from a business if they could contact them through social media messaging services. There is also a global increase of 22% of shoppers who buy their goods via mobile.

It is also a clever trick to formulate a campaign that can be consumed by multiple foreign-speaking countries, which optimises budget. This is an example of what John Lewis and Stella Artois have done this year, as there is a minimal amount of dialogue but the message is received loud-and-clear across multiple languages.

In order to ensure the campaign is anticipated, you must effectively build momentum. First of all, by maintaining a rapport with your clientele and constantly managing the community needs, but also by thinking of new and creative ways that your campaign can be received. Most often, we see businesses release teaser trailers before the official drop; something that Aldi and John Lewis did this year, which started a snowball effect of conversation and speculation. Creating mystery is an efficient tool.

Whereas, something we would suggest to do differently would be to consider IGTV as a useful tool to utilise, something that not many companies did this year. 45% of people say that Instagram has an impactful role when it comes to Christmas and 130m Instagram users click on a shopping story every month.

IGTV is a gradual source of consumption that people are beginning to get-to-grips with and we believe it would have been a useful addition for companies to create a squeezed and compacted version for their Christmas campaign to upload to IGTV as another technique to reach a wider audience.

That now concludes this years analysis on Christmas campaigns; we look forward to devouring our Christmas Pudding delicately lit by Excitable Edgar and sharing a Stella Artois with our Dad’s in our newly decorated homes after being borderline harassed by D Double E to prompt us to mix-it-up a bit.

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