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The Influencers

It's Time for Christmas Ads to Innovate

INFLUENCER: VML's Frederico Roberto breaks down this year's festive spots

It's Time for Christmas Ads to Innovate

When it comes to big ad moments of the year, “North Americans have the Super Bowl and Europeans have Christmas”. I’m sure you’ve heard this at some point. Which is nonsense because the US also has Christmas… Anyway, what I really want to say is that during the Super Bowl, advertisers have some freedom to come up with any story, for any of their products or services – or even equity. During Christmas, it’s a different story.

One should land several touchpoints: Christmas values, product benefits, brand, vision, etc. Christmas ads have been around for many years now, and for the last six or seven, the John Lewis’ sadvertising formula has proven to be quite successful, with a lot of other brands and companies following the same type of narrative. Even John Lewis themselves. It appears they’ve hit the jackpot with the same structure: Monty the Penguin, Buster the Boxer, Moz the Monster…commercially they’re a hit I’m sure, with the merchandising, retail decorations and digital activations extravaganza that come with it. But they’re becoming a bit repetitive. And thus, the brand love might be starting to scatter. But I’m sure that adam&eve will turn it around next year. If there’s an agency who can, it’s them.

In my opinion, a Christmas ad should try to achieve these five things at once, if possible:

- Be and feel Christmassy. Check Debenhams and Apple’s below. It’s not that we need to see snow, Santa Claus and a Christmas tree, but it does help if we have some classic seasonal elements.

- Have a product, service or brand relevance for the time of the year. See Sky Cinema’s below. Bang on!

- A great execution: both H&M and Apple’s have great cinematic craft. And Christmas is all about magic. All kinds of it.

- Showcase global human values. Take the subtlety of how H&M’s introduced a powerful wise woman-mom and a fairy-dad. Let’s diversify stereotyped roles.

- Finally, relatability. Simple stories, loved ones, children’s dream ones, first impressions, we all have or had these.

So here’s my favourites for this year. A list, as subjective as any other.

H&M - A Magic Holiday

Sky Cinema Christmas

Apple - Sway

Heathrow Bears

Debenhams - Cinderella

Frederico Roberto is creative director at VML London

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Genre: Strategy/Insight