Grab your sugarplums and settle in for Ad Nut's Christmas-ad review.
Depending on your level of tolerance for a potent mix of unbridled consumerism and wishes of goodwill, you may want to consider a large glass of a brain-numbing beverage. (Ad Nut swears by that most Christmas-y of drinks, vodka.) Luckily, there's also a few less-saccharine pieces of work, and even a couple that may be NSFW (depending on where you work).
In an effort to spotlight Asia's holiday creativity, local ads will receive top billing on this page; you'll find work from the rest of the world (but mainly the Christmas-crazed UK) a bit further down. Ad Nut beseeches you to share any Asia-based examples you come across.
HOLIDAY ADS FROM APAC
Market: New Zealand
Agency: FCB New Zealand
For the record, this is the first Christmas ad to hit Ad Nut's inbox this year, and wasn't a bad way to start. The Sweet Shop's Andrew Lang directed, and it stars famed Kiwi actor Ian Mune. The agency claims the client was in tears at the final screening—presumably with joy rather than despair. Ad Nut can neither confirm nor deny that the same happened in Ad Nut's screening nest.
Agency: BBH Singapore
Some day soon, every brand will have a video advocating that people spend less time on their devices and more time focusing on their family members. And 95% of them will use 'reconnection' as their theme. Anyway, it's not Christmas without a heaping serving of guilt about how reprehensiblly all young people treat their elders, so here goes.
Advertiser: NRMA insurance
Agency: The Monkeys
What is it about road movies that they're so effective so often? Ad Nut will be traveling on the squirrel highway this year (tree branches and power lines), but agrees with this ad that those driving on human highways should be careful in their travels.
Market: New Zealand
Advertiser: Air New Zealand
Ad Nut never had any particular trouble understanding a kiwi accent. Maybe Santa needs to get his ears cleaned?
Market: New Zealand
As one of Ad Nut's colleagues has put it: "Having just caused a sensation with a lifelike Halloween costume (which, billed as ‘spooky’ and ‘crispy’, sold out within a matter of days), KFC is now giving people the chance to hang fried chicken on their Christmas trees."
Agency: CHE Proximity
Ad Nut loves stop-motion animation, but doesn't think this year's ad manages to top this 2013 effort.
Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
The brand has been using these four little ornament characters since 2015. This time the elf heads out in search of decorations that take Christmas more seriously than his 'family', before discovering (surprise surprise) that there's no place like home. His encounter with an obnoxiously decorated house is quite amusing, and Ad Nut likes anything that ends with a strong endorsement of "nuts".
The agency says this is a "true-ish" story of a man who makes his stand playing backyard cricket on Christmas—for 40 years. Until one year he's tempted away from the wickets by...a ham.
Market: Global (from Japan)
Agency: ADK Tokyo
The world's leading maker of zippers (seriously, you're probably wearing one, or are at least in close proximity to one right now) offers a Christmas-themed film showing off an automatic-zipper technology which it claims to be working on.
Advertiser: David Jones
Agency: TBWA Sydney
This is a cute story of an intrepid gingerbread person doing some shopping while traveling home to Australia from the UK for Christmas. Everything's going fine until a murderous beast attacks and leaves our hero for dead. Luckily a kind human comes to the rescue.
Agency: AJF Partnership
How about a quick-cut montage of generic Christmas preparations and smiling people without any particular plot? It's been done a million times, but it never gets old! Yawn. The polka music is the only thing that makes this remotely tolerable.
Agency: M&C Saatchi Greenhouse
Another totally safe, and therefore completely forgettable, montage.
Market: Global (made in Australia)
Advertiser: Honey Birdette
Here's a change of pace from boring wholesome montages: an office new year's party where lingerie-clad women cavort around notably fully dressed men. As one might expect given recent news about sexual harassment, the reaction to the Instagram spot by this Australia-based brand has been strong. Maybe safe montages aren't such a bad idea after all.
Agency: Leo Burnett
Another Christmas ad featuring people cavorting in their underwear. At least this one has something for people of every orientation to enjoy.
Market: New Zealand
Advertiser: Sky Cinema
Ad Nut prefers It's a Wonderful Life, but this is still really excellent.
HOLIDAY ADS FROM EVERYWHERE ELSE (BUT MAINLY THE UK)
Many of the ads below come from the UK, where Christmas advertising is a blood sport, where some ads have their own teaser trailers, where marketers reportedly spent US$7.3 billion on 'tis-the-season marketing last year, and where speculation runs rampant regarding the John Lewis Christmas ad, which has been directed this year by an Oscar winner. Anyway, if you want more details on many of the spots below, visit the ad nuts at Campaign UK.
Advertiser: John Lewis
Agency: Adam & Eve DDB
Well, here it is. After teases and hints and preposterous secrecy (seriously, read that link), it's the John Lewis Christmas ad, starring Moz the Monster. Ad Nut's reaction: A big fat furry meh. (Update: Ad Nut is not alone.)
Market: US and UK
Advertiser: Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines
Agency: Figliulo & Partners
Ad Nut has a congenital eye condition that produces a lot of tears at random times. Yeah, that's it.
Agency: Pereira & O’Dell
The fizzy-drink giant brings in a big-budget director (Theodore Melfi of Hidden Figures) but to Ad Nut's eye gets very little out of it.
Advertiser: Marks & Spencer
Agency: Grey London
The retailer brings out a big gun: the UK's best-known wayward bear and marmalade addict, Paddington (who not coincidentally has a new movie to plug). This ad has raised a stir because some people believe the human uses a four-letter word near the end when embracing the bear. Ad Nut doesn't hear it.
Agency: Jung von Matt
After 2015's uplifting story about a patriarch who faked his own death to get his family together for the holidays, the grocery retailer takes a somewhat more predictable approach, with this story of a Christmas-curious android in a post-robot-uprising dystopia.
Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB
Ad Nut admires how this spot manages to represent many different cultures and holidays without being heavy-handed or pandering about it.
Advertiser: Coco de Mer
Agency: in house
We now interrupt this parade of wholesome Christmas ads for one that is decidedly NSFW. Ad Nut is not kidding. You seriously shouldn't watch this in your office. You have been warned.
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
While actually giving gifts feels great, we tend to underplay the hell that is shopping. Leave it to Audi to find an entertaining and somewhat dark story in one of the most painful parts of the shopping ritual in the car-dependent US: finding a parking place.
Ad Nut always thought is was magic that got Santa down through even the smallest of chimneys, but putting him on a healthier diet works too. A sweet story of sibling love.
Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors
John Turturro's talents are criminally underused in this film, in Ad Nut's opinion. There's also an extremely gratuitous Nicki Minaj cleavage shot, if that's something that interests you.
Advertiser: Smart Energy
Agency: AMV BBDO
Ad Nut empathises with this dad. When family members leave the lights on in the old oak tree, it drives Ad Nut...nuts as well.
Sometimes it seems like people pull a script out of the drawer, dust it off, slap on a tagline about togetherness or family, and call it a holiday ad. That may be what happened here. But that doesn't make it any less moving.
Advertiser: Home Paternity
Ad Nut has no issues with satirizing religion, unless it's boring and not funny. Please don't watch this.
This 3D adventure is so delightful that it's kind of a drag when it gets around to the product shot and call to action Microsoft wants to deliver.
Agency: BBDO New York and CLM BBDO
The video below is a "sequel" to a long-running M&M's ad, entitled 'Faint'.
Advertiser: Old Spice
Here's a gift you didn't know you needed: A full hour of exploding yule log footage, with frequent shouted interjections by Terry Crews, and a few, um, Easter eggs thrown in for good measure.
Agency: J Walter Thompson London
The retailer updates Cinderella, with Ewan McGregor as narrator slash magical electrician slash matchmaker. Ad Nut does not wish to be a wet blanket, but is seriously turned off by the kiss at the end. It just hasn't been earned at that point, emotionally, and so seems unrealistic—tacked on by a committee wanting to dial up a bigger emotional impact. (Ad Nut fully realises the folly of criticising a stupid Christmas fairy tale for a lack of realism. Welcome to Ad Nut's world.)
Advertiser: New York Lottery
Agency: McCann New York
Ad Nut thinks lottery tickets—worthless scraps of paper in most cases—make lousy gifts. But this feline's determination to give its human friend a little something is sweet. Although, come to think, didn't the cat pilfer the ticket from the human's store without paying?
Agency: Wirz Werbung AG
Ad Nut will not cry about a tiny, big-eyed person who says 'Beep'. Must...maintain...composure.
Agency: Lucky Generals
Christmas is a good time to try to give your massive impersonal retail behemoth a human side, and animating the instantly recognisable smile-swoosh is a pretty brilliant idea. The remade Supertramp song fits so well one suspects it was actually the genesis of the concept.
Amazon also ran this variation, which angered some people who thought (if such people can be said to have "thought") that it ruined Christmas by spilling the beans on Santa Claus.
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
Actor Martin Freeman makes this potentially pat series of romantic episodes quite watchable. However, that could be because, as a fan of the TV series Fargo, Ad Nut kept wondering when Freeman would murder his love interest or a family member without warning. Whatever the cause, Ad Nut smiled in spite of Ad Nut's self.
Last year, the auction site had a winner with the story of a grandfather who learned English in a short time so he could properly greet his grandchild. This followup is nice, but doesn't quite hit Ad Nut the same way. How about you?
Agency: Heimat Berlin
This may win the Bah Humbug award as the worst ad in this year's list, which is really an achievment. Contrived in plot, bereft of decent performances, simplistic in message, empty of anything but some pretty shots—and it wastes more than three minutes—Ad Nut could not hate this more.
Have Apple's ads ever been interesting? If they were, then recent blandness has erased the memory from Ad Nut's noggin'.
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London
Now here's a montage that actually works. Just a little twist (bad singing by real people) and you end with something that's not monotonous, but super charming. Nicely done. There's also a karaoke version, which is worth watching for the ridiculous dance moves alone.
Speaking of good music, here's another rocking effort. Ad Nut still prefers the Sam Cooke version of the song, but this certainly got the old tail bopping.
Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo
A busker gets money for his trumpet playing (which we're weirdly not allowed to hear) via electronic payments. Seemingly a sweet story, but Ad Nut finds it a bit off. The man is well dressed and has a smartphone (and presumably a bank account via which he can receive the funds). So it doesn't really seem like he's busking out of desperation for money. So why is he so upset when he gets very little spare change, and why is he so touched that he nearly cries when the payments come through? Maybe Ad Nut is overthinking it, but a good story should be self-contained. It shouldn't raise questions it doesn't answer. Ad Nut is going to imagine a coda where the man buys something extra special for his wife or grandson. No better yet, he converts the money to cash and gives it to homeless people. No wait, he uses the money to cook a huge dinner for a homeless family in his own home.
Agency: Hudson Rogue
The car-maker offers a pair of 'make a wish'-style videos, one fictional and the other based on a real child's wish. Ad Nut is disappointed, however, that the brand didn't make the wish about every house having a unicorn reality.
As anyone who has a family knows, family relationships can be fraught. This ad for a German supermarket chain doesn't merely acknowledge this truth in a laughing way (like some of the other ads on this page) but makes it the focal point of a compelling and surprisingly dark two-minute film. Don't stop the playback until you've seen the final shot.
Agency: BBDO New York
Unlike the above ad, which has a sublime final shot, this one for the US retailer Macy's holds it together nearly until the end, and then ruins itself with a final shot that—Ad Nut would bet a year's supply of roasted chestnuts—the client insisted upon.
Agency: Adam & Eve DDB
This ad is set in The Tan Hill Inn, which is supposedly the highest pub in Britain at 1,732 feet above sea level, dates back to the 17th century, and has been snowed in 50 times since 2005. Ad Nut was concerned that this was going to become the holiday version of the Donner Party, but luckily the tavern has a very well-stocked pantry.
Agency: BBDO San Francisco
It's a bit strange to see Hitchcock's Rear Window as the obvious inspiration for a Christmas ad.
Agency: Wibroe, Duckert & Partners
Rollo means "Rudolph" in Danish, and this ad for a grocery chain is a fine story about a reindeer... Or is it?
Ironically ugly Christmas sweaters have been appearing for the last couple years, to the point that they're no longer ironic, but simply ugly mass-produced sweaters. And this seems to be the jumping-off point for Diesel, which with this video positions itself against "uncool wool"—but thankfully does so in a tongue-in-cheek way. There's also a nice companion video focusing on the real star of the work, the nameless sycophantic assistant.
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy London
Ad Nut has mentioned a fondness for vodka, and would like to add that Ad Nut is open to product endorsements, especially for brands that make pretty ads such as this.
Kevin the carrot, who debuted last year, returns. And like the Vodafone guy (above) he's also got a love interest. Ad Nut is tempted to say Kevin has jumped the shark, but in actuality he has jumped a plate of pastries. In other news, Kevin's beady black eyes and thin, root-like arms continue to give Ad Nut the heebie jeebies.
Advertiser: TK Maxx
Agency Wieden+Kennedy London
Special delivery of snow, where does Ad Nut sign up? Extra points for using Bill Nighy as narrator.
Ad Nut decries the wanton "verbing" of nouns by adding an "ing", ie 'adulting' and now 'Christmasing'. Also, Ad Nut had to work hard to figure out what was being advertised here. It turns out Intu is an owner of shopping malls, so what's being advertised is shopping. Is that really necessary at this time of year?
Here's an ad that asks you to spare a thought for the delivery people who have to work right up until Christmas Eve. However, the sincerity is questionable, since it's an ad for a company that promises delivery (of sofas!) right up until Christmas Eve. Insert puzzled-face emoji here. Here's a thought for next year. Use the ad budget to pay the delivery people extra, or give them the day off. Say, this argument feels kind of familiar.
Advertiser: House of Fraser
Agency: 18 Feet & Rising
This story of two sisters reflecting on Christmases-past comes across as authentic. It harks back to the 1980s without resorting to overused clichés, perhaps because a pair of directors best known for their advertising and music-video work during the ‘80s and ‘90s, reunited for the spot, according to Campaign UK.
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
This one's also about two sisters, and it's probably even better than the one above, although Ad Nut is annoyed that like the suitcase in Pulp Fiction, we never get to see the amazing thing inside the gift wrapping.
Agency: BETC Paris
Oh, come on! Another mystery left unresolved? This seemed like a really great ad. Now, all Ad Nut wants for Christmas is to know WHAT THE HECK THE KID WANTED!
Agency: CHI & Partners
This one owes more than a small debt to Ad Nut's favorite Christmas movie of recent years, Arthur Christmas, which is fine because it gives Ad Nut a chance to mention that Arthur Christmas is excellent fun and you should watch it, especially if you have offspring or are a fan of Bill Nighy and/or Hugh Laurie. The ad? Oh, it's OK.
Agency: Havas London
Just like last year, Ad Nut stipulates that the bears are cute. And just like last year, Ad Nut doesn't think it makes an airport any more desirable than it already is (which is none).
Advertiser: Not on the High Street
Here's a trio of little vignettes about using truly good gifts to make up for past sins against family members. You can see the two other spots on Campaign UK.
Agency: St. Luke's
A red-headed animated girl named Anna journeys through a frozen world. She looks kind of familiar, but Ad Nut can't quite figure out where she's been seen before. It's a coincidence, surely.
Agency: CHI & Partners
This almost qualifies as an anthropological study rather than a commercial. Ad Nut appreciates the change of pace.
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi London
Ad Nut is wholly distracted by the puzzling presence of a Fleetwood Mac song that doesn't seem to connect with the holiday spirit, but this homage to Willy Wonka has some nice visuals.
There's a decent point in this spot—colorful gifts for colorful people. But all Ad Nut can think about is why a dude is skiing with a teacup in his hand at the 26-second mark.
This is a similar piece from eBay's YouTube channel:
Agency: TBWA London
The brand is set to run eight of these short spots from now through the new year, identifying weirdos like the Cavalier Carver and the Cheeseboard Champion.
This is the second grocery-store ad in this collection (see Lidl, above) to feature a person wielding an electric carving knife with a demented look in their eye. Apparently great minds think alike when it comes to maniacal meat-cutting. There's not much else here that's memorable.
Advertiser: Currys PC World
Agency: AMV BBDO
Have yourself a very headbanging Christmas. Or not.
Agency: DiMassimo Goldstein
'Santacon' is an unofficial event, a pub crawl by people dressed as Santa, held in several cities around the world. This last ad is a PSA of sorts in opposition to the event.