Gifts From Handpicked

Christmas adverts we know and love


Since we have now entered the final month of the year, there is only one thing on the minds of the public: Christmas! This is especially true of those working in the world of television advertising. Let’s take a brief look at the adverts which let us know when it is the season to be jolly.

Coca Cola

Perhaps the most beloved of all Christmas adverts is the one in which an enormous convoy of red lorries drive through a snow-carpeted American and British landscape. All of the Lorries are bright red, covered in a lights and bearing the Coca-Cola logo with the traditional looking fat and jolly Santa on the side. The image is one of the most enduring, iconic images of the season – perhaps even more so than Gabriel appearing to shepherds near Bethlehem, or even of baby Jesus in a manger. Pretty much everyone knows the tune instantly when it comes back on our Televisions.

The arrival of the cola-caravan arouses much awe and excitement among a variety of onlookers. The entire incident is sound tracked by one of the catchiest Christmas songs ever written – a song to which the advert undoubtedly owes much of its longevity. Indeed, the advert has achieved such popularity of the advert that it has remained largely unchanged for more than a decade and its reappearance is seen as a portent of Christmas.


Sure, the company has released other adverts – this year one in which a variety of people are shown making nice gestures toward one another – but this is merely a Coca-Cola advert; it is not the Coca-Cola advert.


John Lewis 2013

John Lewis have a history of making lavish, high-budget Christmas adverts, rich in both sweetness and saccharine sentimentality. Their offering last year described the plight of an unlikely pair of animal friends. It was called ‘The Bear and the Hare’.


The animation commences with the titular bear and hare’s encounter with a Christmas tree in the middle of a forest, around which many animals are joyously exchanging gifts. Seemingly unimpressed, the Bear retires to a cave and sleeps – as bears are wont to do during the winter. The hare leaves him a present and then worries about him not awakening for Christmas. In the end, the bear comes down to the tree with all of the animals, who are appropriately pleased. Lily Allen provided the music for the animation with a cover of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know.

John Lewis 2014

This advert features a boy with a pet penguin, who, at time, looks on enviously at couples. The boy concludes that the penguin is lonely, and so is elated to discover a companion penguin underneath the Christmas tree. The closing shot reveals that both penguins are in fact, stuffed toys. Obviously, this child is blessed with a vivid imagination. The tagline is “give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of”. For example, if you know someone with a stuffed penguin, then another stuffed penguin will likely make for an appropriate gift.



Sainsbury’s 2014

With this year marking a hundred years since the commencement of the First World War, Sainsbury’s have elected to make a film in partnership with the British Legion. This film relates the events of Christmas day of 1914, where hostilities between the English and the Germans were famously ceased momentarily, so that the two warring armies could meet in the middle of the battlefield and play football.

The advert commences late evening on Christmas Eve. The British troops hear their German counterparts singing Christmas songs in the trench. The next morning, a British soldier stands up with his hands aloft – at considerable personal risk. Instead of shooting him dead, the German soldiers climb over their trench with their hands up. The two armies then meet in the middle of the no man’s land.

The emotional content of this advert outstrips even the most well-told story involving animated wildlife – which is perhaps unsurprising, given the context in which it takes place: in the midst of a war which claimed millions of lives and the fact that it is a true story. 


At the day’s conclusion, the two soldiers swap coats and discover that they have also exchanged the contents of their pockets – a biscuit, and a bar of chocolate – the latter of which is now on sale at Sainsbury’s.

This advert has proven controversial. Historians have pointed out that it simplifies and sanitises history – and gives people a false impression. Some view it as a cynical attempt to profit from the occasion. Sainsbury’s might well respond by pointing out that all proceeds from the sales of the chocolate bar go to the Royal British Legion. That Sainsbury’s are certain to benefit from the increased footfall it will bring about does not stop this advert from being poignant and tastefully done.

Not to be left out and leave it all to the big brands we created our very own small tribute to the JL advert and you can see it below, Merry Christmas everyone.


What adverts get you in the festive Christmas mood?