Christmas ads 2020: See who nailed it and how

Christmas ads are a staple of any big brand’s marketing and advertising strategy. Sookio has rounded up its top picks this year. Here is what works and why...

Father Christmas with popcorn

Sookio's Anna Mikolajczyk writes:

The challenge

This year, creative teams on big-budget Christmas adverts had an even tougher task. Production starts so early in the year, how do we forecast what Christmas 2020 looks like? Do we acknowledge the pandemic or opt for an evergreen ad? And the hundred-point question, what will resonate with our audience?

So make a cup of hot chocolate (marshmallows optional) and take a brisk journey through the commercial Christmas land with us. Introducing our countdown of top five Christmas ads this season...

5: Argos ‘An Evening with AbracaDaisy & The Incredible Lucy’

After a huge success of last year's ad, Argos decided to build on their ‘Book of dreams’ catalogue, clearly hoping for similar success. I can almost imagine their internal meeting, discussing the strong numbers and generally positive response to then decide they need to use that momentum in the following year.

Which would probably have worked, if only they met the standard they set for themselves last year.

This year’s story focuses on two little sisters who are using their Christmas present, a box of magic tricks from Argos, to work by putting on an entertaining, out-of-this-world magic performance for the whole family.

It seems like Argos aimed to create a balanced combo of fun, humour, light-hearted action and magic. That concoction feels a bit more like an uninvitingly coloured potion rather than a perfectly blended, delicious mix, but it tastes alright.

Nonetheless, the ad is full of moments that put a hearty smile on my face. If you let go of of the "yeah, but last year..." comparison, it gets good enough to make it to the top five list.

4: Tesco ‘No Naughty List’

Tesco took the “make a Christmas ad” task in a different direction than everyone else. That already takes balls and a strong, proven concept.

Their short ad is a collection of strong characters professing their “covid sins”, such as hoarding toilet rolls, giving a bad, homemade haircut, admitting to not doing their homeschooling properly, or not donating money to support Captain Tom. But it’s been a hell of a year, so who cares? Not Tesco.

I’m not missing a wholesome, seasonal story when I watch it. I’m perfectly happy with Tesco taking the pressure off me and telling me exactly what I want to hear - you’re doing just fine, so take it easy on yourself, a’right? It’s been a tough year, we get it.

I can go on about the importance of self-soothing and the value that this kind of reassurance has, but this isn’t Psychology Today.

We all deal with That C-Word differently and Tesco managed to show it with a selection of very different, yet relatable characters (shoutout to my fellow gin and tonic lovers) in a light, funny way. We have humour, we have energy, fun, stereotypes, and a dash of kitsch.

It’s all skillfully pulled together with a fine choice of pop cultural references from this past year that everyone can relate to.

I have only one reservation - Tesco clearly bet on humour, but it feels like they pressed on breaks. Why do I get the impression that parts of the script were crossed out at the sign-off stage?

Frankly speaking, if it wasn’t for such strong top three competitors, this little gem would have been higher up on the list.


See who made our top 3 on the Sookio blog.

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