The Marketing Week Christmas blog

Welcome to the Marketing Week Christmas blog! A chance for the MW team to cram in all the latest festive advertising news in one place.

23 December, 11:00am – Tesco surprises its employees and customers

Last month Tesco unveiled its ‘Bring it On’ Christmas campaign, featuring familiar faces Ruth Jones and Ben Miller. However, the grocer has now released a further four videos in collaboration with BBH, in which it surprises some of its most loyal employees and customers. One of the TV ads features Brenda Hillaby, who after working for Tesco for nearly 25 years, was nominated by her store in Hull to be reunited with her son who lives in Australia. Get the tissues ready – it’s a tear-jerker. LR

19 December, 12.01pm – Three goes cold turkey

Three has teamed up with creative agency Gravity Road for a new social Christmas campaign that, rather unusually for a mobile provider, urges customers to get off their phone and go “cold turkey” this Christmas. The comical campaign includes films made for Facebook and Instagram, that show how using your mobile over the festive period can mess up your Christmas. This includes missing out on a carol service to answer a phone call and caring too much about filters and social media when taking a photo to actually enjoy the moment. “We obviously love mobile at Three but we think spending time with family and friends is more important sometimes. So why not turn the phone off this Christmas and go Cold Turkey just for one day?” ponders Lianne Norry, director of brand and communications at Three. A fun ad, with a meaningful message, Three makes a convincing case to get onboard the digital detox train and to go #coldturkey. RG

19 December, 10.01am – KitKat: Tis the season – for a much needed break

KitKat has gone down the emotional route with its latest festive ad, which aims to give customers a “feel-good reminder to take a break”. Focused on social channels, the ad features Santa as he delivers KitKats to workers, before taking over their jobs and giving them a well-deserved break. From the man handing out free issues of City AM to delivery workers, a receptionist and a cleaner, KitKat’s Santa has you covered. RG

15 December, 14:30pm – Burger King offers a free burger in exchange for your unwanted presents


Wanted the latest smartphone but got some tupperware instead? Burger King has your back. This Boxing Day, the fast food brand is offering a whopper burger in exchange for an unwanted gift. All you need to do is head down to the Burger King restaurant located at Leicester Square in London between 10am and 6pm on 26th December to swap your unwanted present. But if you are unable to make it to the restaurant, don’t worry. The first fans to post a picture on social media with their unwanted gifts alongside the #WhopperExchange hashtag will get a gift card to redeem a whopper at their local chain. LR

14 December, 11.41am – Ocado uses Santa to teach kids how to code

Pic courtesy of Kwebbelcop

Ocado is hoping to make Santa Claus a source of education this Christmas, as it launches a special festive edition of its Rapid Router game. The educational game, which is already used by over 1,400 schools and 70,000 users globally, helps 5-16 year olds understand programming basics and coding language such as ‘Python’. The special Christmas version ‘Rapid Rudolph’ shows a massive snowstorm within the game’s world, with Santa only able to use his sleigh by learning how to code. If you fancy making your kid the next Bill Gates then head on over. TH

7 December, 10am – Festive paper chain decorations highlight modern day slavery

Unseen Christmas

Slavery is probably not top of mind for most people at Christmas, but modern day slavery charity Unseen is looking to change that by raising awareness of the 13,000 living in such situations in the UK today.

In a spin on the traditional paper chains kids used to make at school to decorate the classroom, Unseen has worked with creative agency Aesop and a number of illustrators to create a pack of festive yet educational strips with all proceeds going to the charity.

At first glance they look like typical Christmas designs. However, on closer inspection each strip carefully depicts scenes of what the charity classes as modern day slavery. LT

6 December, 3.45pm – The National Lottery highlights its charitable work for Christmas


Your desire to become a millionaire has funded many a charitable project, and the National Lottery wants to say thank you. Its Christmas campaign celebrates the landmark figure of 500,000 lottery-funded projects and thanks National Lottery players for all that they’ve made possible across the arts, heritage, sport, health, education, environment and charities.

The ad sees National Lottery tickets and Scratchcards joining together to form a flock that travels the length of the nation – transforming communities and individuals for the better as it goes. LR

6 December, 1.30pm – Febreze launches collection of the UK’s ‘worst Christmas odours’febreze_720pxThere is (almost) nothing that beats the smell of a freshly cooked Christmas dinner. P&G’s Febreze is on a mission, however, to shake up people’s festive experience by launching an exclusive new line of perfume today that replicates some of the UK’s worst Christmas smells.

The perfume was created as part of Febreze’s ’12 Stinks of Christmas’ campaign to drive sales and put the brand top of mind as consumers gear up for seasonal entertaining. The campaign unmasked the nation’s 12 most hated festive odours via a national survey and worked with a professional London-based perfumier to create cheeky, bespoke scents inspired by three of the worst offenders – “Stinky Stilton”, “Bin Bags” and “Brussels Sprouts”. LR

6 December, 11am – Santander: Santa& Deer


Santander is supporting Christmas and more importantly a worthy cause with its new campaign Santa & Deer: A bank for Christmas. The campaign lets people donate toys to less fortunate children in Santander branches, where in return they will receive chocolate coins.

The financial brand will also run a ’12 Toys of Christmas’ prize draw on Facebook and Twitter, where people will have a chance to win one of 2016’s “must have toys”. The ‘A bank for Christmas’ campaign is supported by ambassadors Jessica Ennis-Hill and Jenson Button, and will run until the 23rd December. RG

6 December, 10.30am – Twitter: #ThisHappened

Today Twitter is reflecting on 2016 and the “moments and memories” that defined it with the hashtag #ThisHappened. The platform has highlighted key events including #Rio2016, #Euro2016, #Election2016 and #Brexit. It has compiled the key events into a mini video (see above). RG

5 December, 5.05pm – Samsung Gear S3 World Choir


Samsung is celebrating the festive season with its own world choir, which features 24 choirs from 24 different countries playing in the run up to Christmas.

A different world choir will perform each day throughout the festive season in Piccadilly Circus, on the UK’s first biometric stage powered by the Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch.

A few members of the choir from each performance will wear a Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch that will collect live data. This will then be turned into real time visuals on the eight giant screens built into the stage. One for choir fans and tech buffs, this campaign will get you into the Christmas spirit. RG

5 December, 1.50pm – KFC gets political for Christmas campaign


It turns out Colonel Sanders, yes, the fried chicken tycoon, is actually the political commentator Britain has been crying out for. Before you accuse me of losing my marbles, one of KFC’s new Christmas TV ads, created by BBH, features a Christmas nativity play with a twist – it is Brexit-themed. The ad also features narration by the Colonel (the real Sanders has been dead for 36 years so it’s just a voice actor, unfortunately) and KFC’s new festive burger. “Introducing the voice of the Colonel, with his Southern wit and wisdom, allows the brand to lean into its heritage while using humour to build a distinctive role in modern British life,” says Hamish Pinnell, creative director at BBH London. You can watch the ad here. TH

1 December, 10:00am – Cadbury takes to Tumblr for #Cadvent calendar


Last year, Cadbury claimed it had launched “its biggest ever” Christmas campaign by sending 24 purple trucks, each packed with a surprise, to various locations throughout the UK. This year, however, the chocolate bar brand decided to take a more digital approach. Teaming up with Tumblr and Yahoo Storytellers it has launched a digital advent calendar. Every day a new piece of specially created video content will be revealed in the lead up to Christmas – complete with opening windows and foil for the days that have passed. LR

30 November, 5.35pm – Vision Direct: Gizmo saves Christmas

Gizmo the pug is back to save Christmas in Vision Direct’s new festive campaign. The ad plays, which plays on the age old rivalry between cats and dogs, comes with a new furry addition in Cuddles the cat. Though their relationship starts as a rivalry, both Gizmo and Cuddles become friends after Gizmo saves Christmas following Cuddles turning the neighbourhood’s power off. Let’s face it, what’s not to love about a pug wearing a jumper and glasses? RG

30 November, 4.55pm – Marmite: #LoveItHateItNameIt


Fancy ordering your Christmas presents at the tap of an… emoji? Marmite has you sorted. The British brand is introducing a new service that allows customers to order free, personalised jars for their loved ones this Christmas or, even, just as a treat to themselves. The novelty product can be ordered by tweeting your name or a message for the jar, along with tagging @Marmite in the tweet and using the hashtag #LoveItHateItNameIt. The free jars are available for the first 100 tweeters on Friday 2nd December. RG

28 November, 14:00pm – Domino’s uses reindeer to deliver pizza

Christmas and pizza are two things that most people wouldn’t necessarily put together, but Domino’s was determined to try anyway. In Japan, the pizza company has trained up reindeer to deliver pizza in the blistering cold. The brand explained in a press release that it is working with reindeer breeders at the Hokkaido Delivery Integrated Research Center for the stunt. Sadly, this won’t be rolled out in the UK any time soon. LR

28 November, 11.04am – H&M signs up quirky director Wes Anderson for Christmas ad

H&M has signed up The Great Budapest Hotel director Wes Anderson to direct its Christmas TV ad, which was created by adam&eveDDB. Starring Hollywood actor Adrien Brody (pictured), the short ‘Come together’ film tells the story of a train full of passengers travelling home for Christmas who encounter problematic snowy conditions. With Anderson’s signature playful style, the train’s Conductor Ralph (played by Brody) and his assistants – all kitted out in clothes from H&M’s Winter collection – try to create some Christmas cheer for their upset passengers. “The ad’s story may resonate more than ever at a time in the world where we could all do with giving a stranger a hug,” says Brody. Amen to that. TH

24 November, 11.21am – LEGO uses 10,000 bricks to recreate Xmas ads from John Lewis


Starting from today (24 November), the flagship Oxford Street John Lewis store will display LEGO models depicting scenes from some of its most iconic Christmas ads. Built out of 10,000 LEGO bricks and over the space of 116 hours by company Bright Bricks, the display on the fourth floor features the likes of Buster the Boxer and Monty the Penguin.

“LEGO is one of our most enduring brands and is always a Christmas bestseller for us. We hope that these amazing displays will make our customers smile in the lead up to Christmas,” said Harry Boughton, toys buyer at John Lewis.

John Lewis; literally putting the bricks in bricks and mortar. Soz, that was awful. TH

24 November, 10.30am – Pizza Express launches a Christmas Messenger app

Pizza Express app

PizzaExpress claims that no other “casual dining” brand has used Facebook Messenger in their restaurants before. So for its Christmas campaign, it is allowing diners to scan a code using their smartphones to gain access to its “Shake The Tree” game on Messenger. Through the game, customers are given the chance to win prizes including free pizzas and Dough Balls. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game has proven popular – since its release on Tuesday it has attracted 7,000 entries. LR

23 November, 2.30pm- #BusterTheBoxer bounces to Twitter success

John Lewis is hoping #BustertheDog can surpass Monty The Penguin in popularity

While our Twitter followers may have voted Sainsbury’s #ChristmasIsforSharing their favourite Christmas ad this year, the social media giant’s own results suggest John Lewis is the king of the ads.

New research from Twitter highlights that John Lewis comes out on top as the most talked about Christmas ad this year via its hashtag #BusterTheBoxer. This is closely followed by Coca-Cola’s #HolidaysAreComing and M&S with #LoveMrsClaus. Heathrow also sneaks into the top ten with it’s adorable #BestGiftOfAll campaign, telling the tale of two old bears wandering through Heathrow (see below). RG

22 November, 10.35am – Apple introduces Frankie’s Holiday

After a turbulent year of politics both in the US and UK, Apple’s latest festive ad has a strong message urging its audience to “open your heart to everyone”. The ad tells the tale of Frankie, Apple’s version of Frankenstein’s monster, a character who is an outcast and hidden away. The monster turns up at his local town to sing Christmas songs via an iPhone 7. At first people are wary of him but after a young girl takes the courage to join him, everyone else soon follows. RG

21 November, 1pm – Coca-Cola’s vintage Christmas ad is back on the air after all

If you were to believe the internet then the countdown to Christmas doesn’t officially start until Coca-Cola’s ‘Holidays are Coming’ ad hits our screens. And yesterday, it finally happened. It features a fleet of red trucks, lighting up towns as they make their way through a wintry landscape – you know the drill. LR

21 November, 11am – WWF offers personalised children’s book as Christmas gift

Most children wake up on Christmas Day to find Santa Clause has been but not the family in the World Wildlife Fund’s new campaign. They find an injured tiger who they help to nurse back to health. The effective ad, created by JWT, is part of a new campaign from the charity aimed at engaging people in the plight of tigers this Christmas. And anyone who signs up to donate £5 a month to the cause will receive a personalised children’s Christmas book. SV

17 Nov, 4.30pm – New Look launches largest ever festive campaign

New Look is hoping to be top of shoppers’ minds when it comes to planning their party outfits this year with the launch of its biggest ever campaign featuring a woman and man on route to a Christmas event. The retailer wants to boost sales (obviously!) but also drive brand consideration and promote its omnichannel offering.

The media plan, by Zenith includes its biggest ever Twitter campaign, including ads at the top of the timeline and promoted trends, as well as its largest outdoor campaign featuring bus wraps and advertising at Oxford Circus tube. SV

16 Nov 4.17pm – Subway plays on office party fears

Subway is getting into the festive spirit with a new campaign to celebrate its limited edition ‘Sub’ sandwich, made up of turkey, sausage, bacon and cranberry sauce. The ad plays on the fear of facing work colleagues the day after a Christmas party. In this case a young woman bumps into her colleagues in Subway but instead of hiding away she tucks into the Festive Feast Sub, which soon puts her at ease. The ad, created by McCann London, is part of  Subway’s new ‘Keep Discovering’ brand platform. RG

16 Nov 10.26am – Thorntons returns to TV for Christmas push

Thorntons is back on TV screens for the first time in six years and a year since it was acquired by Ferrero as it looks to relaunch the brand by focusing on craftmanship. Thorntons suffered from frequent deep-cut promotions and commoditisation, which hit sales, but is hoping a renewed push on the emotion of chocolate, using the strapline ‘Pass the love on’, can help it win back shoppers.

And there is no better time to do that then Christmas. Expect to find some boxes of Thorntons chocolates inside a number of stockings this year. SV

14 November 12.10pm – Waitrose follows a robin’s Christmas journey

Waitrose is taking the focus away from its customers and their experience of Christmas to instead attempt to invoke some emotional response. Just as its sister brand John Lewis goes all light-hearted, Waitrose tugs at the heartstrings by showing a young robin’s epic trip over mountains and across seas to reach his home in a garden in the UK. And the link to Waitrose isn’t forgotten; one of his treats when he gets home is a mince pie from the supermarket, alongside seeing his mate again of course!

Waitrose claims the ad, created by its agency adam+eveDDB, is its most high-tech yet. Alongside the TV ad, Waitrose will also be creating a book that tells the robin’s tale as well as an interactive social media game. SV

14 November 11.45am – Don’t mind if I Baileys

Baileys has returned with a new global campaign, ‘Don’t mind if I Baileys’, just in time for Christmas. The first ad aims to tap into life’s more pleasurable moments as it shows a woman indulging in the drink after ‘hiding’ her Christmas presents into a hole in the wall.

Targeted at women, this thirst-quenching ad is one to tempt lovers of the classic Christmas liquor. RG

14 November 11.10am – JCDecaux returns with its ‘November Narrative’


Out-of-home advertising company, JCDecaux, is turning digital screens across the UK into an illustrated story as it returns with its second annual festival “November Narrative”. Titled Monkey Mischief, the story follows the tale of two children, Ben and Emma, as they chase a monkey across a host of “magical landscapes” after the animal steals Ben’s hat. Illustrated by Alison Edgson and written by Elyssa Campbell-Barr, this cheeky ad is in bitesized snippets spread across 22 episodes. RG

14 November, 10.50am – Heathrow launches its first Christmas ad

Heathrow has launched its first ever Christmas video campaign, which celebrates ‘the best gift of all’ that is arriving home for Christmas. The ad features two ageing bears as they land into Heathrow and make their way around the airport. When they get to arrivals the bears turn into an elderly couple and are greeted by their grandchildren. While John Lewis may have moved away from pulling on the heartstrings this year, the Heathrow ad offers a poignant tale with everyones favourite childhood toy. RG

10 November, 10.30am – Disney launches its charity Christmas campaign

disney store

Disney has launched its ‘from our family to yours’ initiative, with this year supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and In Kind Direct. The campaign encourages children to write a letter to Santa and post it in one of ‘Mickey’s magical post boxes’ at its various UK Disney Stores. For every letter posted Disney donates a soft toy to a child through the charities. To date, it has donated more than 140,000 soft toys across Europe. RG

9 November, 11.15am – Debenhams brings back ‘Found it’

Debenhams is sticking to a tried and tested formula as it brings back its ‘Found it’ campaign for the third year and evolves it slightly to showcase premium gifts. The ads, created by JWT, feature a swathe of celebrities including Jennifer Saunders, Ewan McGregor and Billie Piper waxing lyrical about the gifts on offer at Debenhams such as handbags and coffee machines. Debenhams’ marketing director Richard Cristofoli believes the campaign will “become part of consumer consciousness”. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if you agree. RG

9 November, 9.05am – Is consumer spend on the up this Christmas?

UK retailers could be in for a Merry Christmas as data from Accenture suggests 85% of consumers are likely to spend the same or more this year compared with 2015. “While it’s encouraging to see that many consumers are planning to spend more this festive season, the challenge for UK retailers will be to drive profitable sales,” says Matt Prebble, managing director of Accenture’s retail practice in the UK. SV

8 November, 13.45pm – Manchester City’s players have a snowball fight


Perhaps less controversial than the rumoured Messi fight at the Etihad stadium, Manchester City’s players have got into a snowball fight for their annual Christmas video. Refereed by City manager Pep Guardiola (pictured above), the video shows a battle between two opposing teams made up of current players as well as club legends. The Christmas jumpers that represent each team are also available to buy, with the club donating £5 for every jumper purchased to local community football projects in Manchester. TH

7 November, 12.45pm – Fortnum & Mason wants Christmas ad to have a “higher purpose”


2016 has not been the most unifying of years, with political events like the US election and Brexit causing rifts between families and friends. At least, that’s what Fortnum & Mason is trying to defeat with its ‘Together We’re Merrier’ Christmas campaign. It shows classic arch-enemies reconciling their differences, including The Bull and The China, The Butcher and The Turkey, The Wolf and The Sheep and The Boy and the Brussel Sprouts. LR

7 November, 12.15pm – Coca-Cola wheels out its Christmas truck once again


While most of the British public is getting hyped up about the John Lewis Christmas ad, some might argue that the countdown to Christmas hasn’t officially started until Coca-Cola’s bright red truck has made an appearance. The fizzy drinks giant is once again organising a truck tour, visiting 44 stops throughout the UK in the run up to Christmas day. But don’t expect the iconic ‘Holidays Are Coming’ ad to be popping up on your screen anytime soon– Coca-Cola is launching a brand spanking new TV campaign entitled ‘A Coke for Christmas’. LR

7 November, 11.32am – Is this the John Lewis ad?


A 10-second teaser has been posted under the Twitter account @bouncing2016 featuring a little girl on a Space Hopper and her pet dog. The whispers are that it is a scene from the new John Lewis Christmas ad. Let’s just hope the Man on the Moon doesn’t get any ideas… Zero gravity is a bitch. TH

7 November, 10.45am – Gregg’s goes all dark social

Not content with taking over the world one sausage roll at a time, Greggs is now taking to dark social to recruit people to its ‘Festive Bake Lovers’ event. It has set up an exclusive WhatsApp group, for just 250 members, which offers exclusive content, competitions and details on the event. Sounds like a pastry lovers perfect conversation. SV

7 November, 10.23am – Harvey Nichols steals Italian style

Harvey Nichols is stealing style from the Italians in this tongue-in-cheek Christmas campaign. The department store has had some big hits with its less than serious take on festive cheer before and this one looks set to replicate that success. SV

7 November, 9.09am – Agent Provocateur launches interactive ‘naughty or nice’ campaign


Agent Provocateur has launched an interactive Christmas video titled ‘Naughty or Nice’. Starring British actress Juno Temple, the ad shows how the brand’s products – including underwear – activate both naughty and nice personalities. It will also allow viewers to switch between two views by tapping their mobile screen or pressing ‘n’. If you fancy Christmas advertising without any cutesy characters then check it out here. TH

7 November, 8.00am – It’s the most wonderful time of the year…


Welcome to the Marketing Week Christmas blog! A chance for the MW team to cram in all the latest festive news in one place while trying to make sense of why we’re talking about Christmas in early-November. Eeeek.

P.S. Author initials will appear at the end of each post.



There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Gollgizen 20 Nov 2016

    Well-written article !
    I would say shopping engines provide sometimes truncated results, so you’d better
    read on how it works …I would like sharing with you another point of view about these sites.
    It is also very interesting to my mind:

  2. Jonathan Staines 19 Dec 2016

    RE: the Three campaign. Orange / Mother London did a ‘switch off your phone’ campaign back in about 2005.

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