John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Argos: The top Christmas YouTube ads

From a boy dressed as a plug and an Elton John blockbuster, to a mischievous Christmas elf and an ad banned from television for being ‘too political’, we reveal YouTube’s most watched Christmas ads of 2018.

1. John Lewis & Partners – Elton John Christmas

The number one in this year’s list comes as little surprise, with John Lewis’s festive blockbuster earning top spot. This year, the retailer ditched a traditional Christmas ad for an Elton John biopic. Titled ‘The Boy and the Piano’ the festive spot tells the story of how one particular gift – a piano – influenced the course of Elton’s life.

READ MORE: Why John Lewis ‘turned left’ for unusually un-Christmassy festive blockbuster

Set to Elton’s hit Your Song, the ad begins in the present day and works backwards chronologically right up to the very moment he is gifted a piano as a small boy. A number of scenes have been reinvented to highlight pivotal moments in his decorated 70-year career. Scenes include a school piano recital, his West Coast stadium tour and a collection of studio recordings.

Creative agency: Adam&Eve DDB
Media agency: Manning Gottleib OMD

2. Sainsbury’s – The Big Night

From a dancing bauble, to a drumming turkey and a plug, Sainsbury’s take on a classic school nativity play begins with a timid young girl dressed as a star stepping on stage alone. It’s not long before she begins to belt out a rendition of the New Radicals’ 90s hit You Get What You Give.

She’s then joined on stage by the entire ensemble – essentially, children dressed as strange festive elements such as tinsel and fairy lights. However, despite the spotlight intended to be shone on the singing star, plug boy most definitely steals the show – watch from one minute, 20 seconds. You won’t regret it.

Creative agency: Wieden & Kennedy UK
Media agency: PHD

3. Argos – The Christmas Fool

Argos’ arguable creepy festive spot tells the story of a mischievous Christmas elf who strikes a remarkable resemblance to Harry Potter favourite, Dobby. His aim is to ruin Christmas by wreaking havoc inside a family home as they prepare for the following day’s festivities. He can be seen breaking fairy lights, unwrapping gifts, knocking decorations from the Christmas tree and stealing Sellotape.

Creative agency: The & Partnership
Media agency: PHD

4. Iceland – Say Hello to Rang Tan #NoPalmOil

Iceland’s banned advert (which was actually originally a campaign by Greenpeace) tells the story of a little girl’s encounter with a baby orangutan named Rang Tan who has been displaced. The film highlights the destruction palm oil is having on our rainforests and the orangutan communities. It is narrated by renowned actress and Greenpeace advocate Emma Thompson.

READ MORE: Iceland’s banned Christmas ad is a festive masterstroke

Additionally, the festive ad was actually banned from being aired on TV for breaching political rules, after it failed to win over regulators. But that certainly didn’t (or perhaps it encouraged) users from viewing it on YouTube.

Creative agency: Mother
Media agency: In-house

5. – Find the gift that helps them find their gift

Taking animation inspiration from classic children’s film, Frozen,’s Christmas ad tells the story of a young girl who dreams of being an astronaut. The film works chronologically through her life, from receiving a spacesuit costume, to showing off a model of the solar system to classmates, before heading to University to study “The Universe”. It ends with a scene, of the protagonist looking back at earth from outerspace and follows the tagline: “Give them a gift that helps them find their gift”.

Creative agency: St Lukes
Media agency: Vizuem

6. Cadbury – Secret Santa

Creative agency: In-house
Media agency: Carat London

7. Aldi – Kevin the Carrot

Creative agency: McCann UK
Media agency: UM Manchester

8. Marks and Spencer – Must-haves

Creative agency: Grey
Media agency: Mindshare

9. Apple – Share Your Gifts

Creative agency: Media Arts Lab
Media agency: OMD

10. Amazon – Can You Feel It

Creative agency: Lucky Generals
Media agency: In-house

Hide Comments1 Show Comment

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here