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Vintage Christmas ads are perfect for getting you in the right festive mood. Touching, naive, atmospheric, and very well crafted, they will make your heart melt. The tradition of making campaigns for this holiday is almost a century old and there were so many fantastic examples of commercials. Why not have a look at the best ones? Here are the best vintage Christmas ads from Kitcast to jingle all the way.
1. Kodak Camera – Family Tree
Why: there’s something very wholesome about this 1974 vintage Christmas ad from Kodak. The well-dressed, snow-covered middle-aged people take turns to tell you about the advantages of a new (for the 70s) pocket camera. The accent is uber-polished, the ambiance is family-picnic-festive, and every shot looks like some kind of a Flemish master landscape painting.
The end is quite unexpected, though. Those grown-ups were sitting in the form of a Christmas tree this whole time in some kind of dark, open space. Still, we loved it.
2. Miller Beer – Merry Christmas
Why: while Coca-Cola may have the “Holidays are coming”, Miller had their 1981 commercial featuring the horse carriage. Really, there’s nothing else here, just a rider and a horse going through the snowy landscape of the American (?) countryside. No action is needed, though, it’s perfect as it is. T
The soundtrack to this chilly ride is a beautiful piano rendition of a Christmas carol. The commercial ends with “This Christmas carol was brought to you by the people of Miller brewery company” narrated by the pleasant male voice. Thank you, people, you’ve set the holiday mood.
3. Burger King – Merry Christmas feat. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Why: way before slaying vampires in Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar was the face of Burger King. In 1982 she was featured prominently in a company’s Christmas commercial singing “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas” putting her whole heart in it.
Curiously enough, another Hollywood heavyweight actress was in that video too. The short ad features Lea Thompson aka Lorraine Baines-McFly in the Back to the Future. Quite a star-studded cast here and one of the best vintage Christmas ads.
4. Campbell’s Soup – Snowman
Why: the snowman looks miserable and depressed while caught in a snowstorm outside. It’s time to go home. What’s waiting for him there? You’ve guessed it, of course, it’s a bowl of Campbell’s soup. What else would a Snowman have on Christmas Eve anyway, right?
As our hero consumes the dish the snow begins to melt and we see that it’s actually… a little boy. So many questions immediately pop up in our heads but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Campbell’s Soup has given us one of the best vintage Christmas ads that also happens to be very visual and memorable. It first aired in 1993 and yes, 90s are vintage in 2023. That’s 30 years ago everybody. You’re allowed to cry now.
5. Coca-Cola – I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing
Why: you may create a Christmas ad but you’re unlikely to reach the levels of marketing perfection that match Coca-Cola’s 70s banger by the name of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”. It’s a masterpiece among commercials, a jingle that you instantly remember. One of the most prominent vintage Christmas ads, it follows the “We are the world”-like kind of a singalong. Singers take turns chanting the custom-created tune while holding a candle in their hands. It’s very ceremonial, even cult-like. But hey, we expect nothing less from the vintage Christmas ads from the 70s.
Similarly to the Kodak ad we also covered in this article, this commercial ends in a bird-eye shot of people forming a Christmas Tree shape. It’s hard to tell who copied who, but that was a popular way to do festive campaigns back then for sure.
6. McDonald’s – Ronald ice skating
Why: “when I was a child, this commercial always teared me up”, writes @Ladyfoghorn in the YouTube comment section under the video and we can see why. This McDonald’s vintage Christmas ad from the 80s hits all the right notes to craft the holiday spirit. The cinematography is brilliant, the combination of real-life actors and the drawn Bambi-reminiscent characters is a nice move, and Ronald McDonald is at the height of his game. What makes it a real tearjerker, though, is the music. Here we have a true Hollywood-level orchestration that makes this commercial feel and sound epic.
Turn the music off, though, and it turns dark and slightly unsettling real quick. Why is a middle-aged clown riding the ice rink with children in what looks like the forest? Maybe this is a question we should never ask and just enjoy the magical atmosphere of this fast food-sponsored Christmas fairy tale. The video’s cover image won’t fly in 2023 but in the 80s there was no YouTube.
7. Vintage Christmas Ads | KFC – Santa at KFC
Why: just a little nostalgia kick for you. Santa came to KFC to splurge, and he’s ready to spend cash. The reason? Every meal comes with a Giga Pet. Now, what is a Giga Pet, you may ask. You see, in 1997 the US was engulfed by the digital pet craze initiated by Japanese Tamagotchi. And KFC hopped on this trend by including one digital pet in their meals.
That’s a great Christmas promotion idea. It comes with risks, though. Giga Pet is not some dummy toy, it’s a pet-like creature that lives inside a plastic box and still requires attention. After all, it could die if you maltreat it. In any case, KFC has given us one of the best vintage Christmas ads and now we’re craving to have a Giga Pet too.