Unwrapping the Magic: What Makes the Best Christmas Advert of all time?

Share This Post

It’s officially December, which means we are being bombarded with Christmas adverts. Here, our intern Beth Moody explains why John Lewis does it best – but why big budgets don’t always blow the competition out the water.

‘Tis the season for twinkling lights, festive cheer, and of course, the eagerly awaited Christmas adverts that warm our hearts and spark that unmistakeable holiday spirit.

I’m sure we can all agree when it comes to Christmas, we love to see the different adverts brands have created – whether it brings a tear to your eye, has you curled over in laughter or… erm.. makes you want to adopt a penguin.

I think it’s safe to say it has become somewhat of a British holiday tradition to dissect and discuss all the ways brands bring creative and innovative adverts to our screen at in the festive season.

But the question is – what makes the best Christmas advert of all time?

Emotional Connection

For me, the magic happens if they are tugging at heartstrings. The best Christmas adverts usually resonate emotionally, whether through a heartfelt storytelling, relatable characters, or the nostalgia-inducing power of tradition. A great advert should leave us with a warm, fuzzy feeling that lingers long after the advert has finished.

The Bear And The Hare John Lewis Christmas advert did this for me 10 years ago with a mini motion picture accompanied by the beautiful song Somewhere Only We Know (sung by Lily Allen).

But John Lewis have other tricks up their sleeve with Christmas ads too.


Say hello to Monty The Penguin. In 2014 John Lewis told the story of the bond between Monty the Penguin and a young boy Giving us a narrative that was genuine and relatable, inviting us into a story rather than bombarding us with promotional offers.

Brands that successfully weave storytelling into their adverts create an emotional bond that extends beyond the holiday season. And they stick with us. Which brings me to….


The best Christmas adverts are unforgettable. Whether it’s a catchy song, a memorable character, or a unique visual style, leaving a lasting impression is crucial. After all, we want those songs to keep playing in our heads as we deck the halls.

I think you can probably guess which brand I’m about to refer to for the third time… Yes, it is John Lewis! But hear me out. Their 2015 Christmas advert ‘‘Man On The Moon’ explores a friendship between a young girl and an elderly man in the sky set to the song ‘Half the World Away’ an Oasis classic covered by Aurora. It screamed nostalgia but also brought generations together.

Surprise and Delight

A touch of magic, a sprinkle of humour, or an unexpected twist can turn a good advert into a great one!

So… drumroll… all hail John Lewis again with it’s 2023 Christmas advert snapshot from the genius brains of Saatchi and Saatchi. Some said it was a bit of a gamble because it shies away from the more emotionally driven formula of the past.

The advert features a Venus flytrap who tries to fit in as a family’s Christmas tree.

The idea was to spotlight the untraditional, unusual and unexpected and if you ask me, it’s an exciting shake-up with plenty of surprising moments.

Budget ads

It’s safe to say John Lewis has the cash to splash. But can you make an impact with a Christmas ad without forking out big bucks? Yes, actually.

So it gives me great pleasure to direct you to this excellent Christmas advert for a pub in Ireland which was shot for £700 and proves that you don’t need a huge budget to deliver something creative and sincere.

In a nutcracker

To wrap up (pardon the pun), the recipe for the best Christmas advert involves a perfect blend of emotion, authenticity, memorability, inclusivity, and that extra sprinkle of surprise.

So, as we gather around our screens this Christmas, let’s raise a virtual toast to the adverts that capture the true spirit of Christmas and leave a lasting imprint on our festive memories. Cheers to the magic of advertising that makes us believe, even if just for a moment, in the enchantment of the season.

More To Explore