Can you hear it? “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way”. The favorite time of the year for kids, a money-spending time of the year for their parents, and the most creative time of the year for marketers worldwide. Today we want to make a roundup of the best holiday ads ever created. Heartwarming, beautiful, tearful, masterful, everything is present here. Let’s see the top holiday ads and live the joy of Christmas together.
1. Frankie’s Holiday – Apple – 2016
Why: try not to get teary during this fantastic Apple commercial that is among the best holiday ads ever. Not only it is about acceptance and tolerance, but it’s also very well done.
Filmed around the striking alpine beauty of Valle d’Aosta in Italy, it tells the story of Frankie (yes, Frankenstein, you’ve guessed it) who is trying to bring some Christmas cheer to the people of his village. For that, he records a music box melody on an iPhone, orders some illumination for his neck, and descends to the central square to sing in front of the villagers.
It doesn’t go well at first. He is clumsy, he doesn’t know how to sing, and the people are hostile toward his intentions. But there’s this little girl that supports Frankie and takes up the melody.
In the end, teh whole village is singing, Frankie tears up, and we’re seeing the holiday ads magic performed by Apple.
2. Christmas with love from Mrs. Claus – M&S – 2016
Why: beautifully shot and fantastically acted, this Christmas advert from British brand Marks & Spencer continues the tradition of annual holiday ads and does it with a bang. Santa Claus appears at the beginning and the end, but it’s all about Mrs. Claus, the bold and elegant woman played by Janet McTeer. You will have the feeling of watching a whole movie here, it’s brilliantly done and directed by Tom Hooper aka the visionary who managed to give us both awesome The King’s Speech and questionable Cats.
We’re following Mrs. Claus’s quest to save Christmas for a boy who wants to gift his sister a pair of sneakers. He writes her a letter, and she boards an R-Dolf helicopter and hurries to help the little fellow because that’s what the holiday spirit is all about.
3. Holidays are coming – Coca-Cola – 1995
Why: one of the best holiday ads of all time, “Holidays are coming” is not only an amazingly executed commercial, but it’s also a part of popular culture. The jingle here is an ultimate earworm that you won’t be able to get out of your head. The development of an ad is a masterpiece too. The illuminated trucks with Coca-Cola are lighting up everything they pass. It looks gorgeous, and it melts your heart.
4. Shadow – John Lewis – 2007
Why: there’s a British wave for every pop culture phenomenon. Christmas holiday ads are not an exception. While this one is not going to make you weep, it doesn’t tell a particularly touchy story, and there are no extraordinary special effects involved, it’s still extremely relevant for the development of an approach to holiday marketing ads that persists to this day.
Shadow was the first of the long-form Christmas commercials of British retailer John Lewis & Partners that basically lightened up the whole competition around holiday ads worldwide. You gotta respect a brand for starting a tradition and that’s what John Lewis did with this particular ad.
As for the commercial itself, it’s beautiful and laconic. People are placing various items in the studio-looking room to create a game of light and shadow. As you can guess, all the products they put can be found in John Lewis stores. Finally, the composition starts to take shape and we see the end result. It’s a girl with a dog going through the snow created in the stylistic of the British duo Tim Noble and Sue Webster.
It’s simple, it’s evocative, and it’s one of the best holiday ads ever created due to its influence on the marketing world.
5. Polar Bears – Coca-Cola – 1993
Why: if you’d like some vintage holiday ads in your life, there’s this excellent Coca-Cola entry that introduced the world to the cute 3D polar bear that became one of the most recognizable holiday symbols of the brand.
The ad is quite simple. A pack of polar bears gathers to watch the show of the northern lights. The catch is that they’re here to enjoy Coke too. The ad ends with an insanely sweet polar bear tasting the drink and making a sound of pleasure. Classic, timeless, and fun. That’s how we want the best holiday ads to be.
6. Man On The Moon – John Lewis – 2015
Why: yes, we’ve seen this formula many, many times. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Christmas is associated with showing love to those you care about and John Lewis takes it to the moon. Quite literally.
The video is about the girl that notices while on the telescope that there’s an old man living all alone on the moon. It’s Christmas, the girl has a good heart and she wants to give a gift to this sad grandfather. She tries different ways but it’s the moon we’re talking about that complicates her endeavors a bit. But those who want something badly get it. And the girl uses balloons to transport a present to the Earth’s satellite.
That’s a telescope in the box and the old man now can see our planet from afar. He’s not alone anymore.
The soundtrack here is a cover of Oasis’ “Half The World Away” performed by Norwegian singer Aurora before her TikTok fame.
7. Peter Comes Home For Christmas – Folgers Coffee – 1985
Why: just Peter coming home despite the heavy snowstorm to greet his family with freshly brewed Folgers Coffee. Nothing more, nothing less. And that’s how you produce the best holiday ad.
Make it relatable, pair the commercial with some fine orchestral music, and spice it up with the Christmas spirit. The ad was a huge success, it was shown every year until 1998 turning Folgers into a go-to holiday coffee brand for a generation of Americans.
By the way, in 2009 Folgers did a remake. It is more on the bizarre side of things, and couldn’t keep up with the instant magic of the original ad.
8. Kisses Christmas Commercial – Hershey’s – 1989
Why: not all holiday ads require a cinematic approach. Sometimes you only need candy that imitates the bells and plays the iconic melody. That’s exactly what the American chocolate manufacturer Hershey’s done for their entry into the Christmas marketing canon. And that stayed in the history of the most memorable holiday ads forever.