16 December 2020

What makes a great Christmas TV ad?

By Joe Durbridge

We’ve seen this year’s Christmas TV ads; we’ve read people’s opinions about them and we’ve debated our favourites with our friends and family. But what really makes a great Christmas TV ad? What components make up the ‘secret sauce’ that allows the ad to really hit the spot. Read on to see how we ranked the ads based on those vital ingredients.

First though, the ingredients…  


An ingredient that’s especially important this year is insight into cultural context and the things that are truly important to people. It goes without saying that the pandemic has ensured there will be nothing normal about this Christmas and so it was important for brands to capture this within their ads. Most of the brands did this but some absolutely smashed it. Tesco’s ‘no naughty list’ took a light-hearted view on everyone needing a break from Santa’s naughty list, whilst Amazon touched on some of the struggles people are going through.


As with all marketing, emotion is the key to unlocking people’s hearts. A good level of emotion delivered well, will always help an ad to resonate deeply with viewers. John Lewis carved the blueprint for the emotive Christmas ad, however this year, Amazon came out on top. By combining a powerful message that the show must go on and some heart-warming John Lewis-esque music, the ad really got us in the feels. Sainsbury’s ‘calls to home’ series of ads, in particular the gravy song, also hit the spot emotionally, with its poetic storytelling, highlighting the situation we all find ourselves in over Christmas.



Everybody loves a good story and brands that tell the best stories usually come out on top. Storytelling in advertising is particularly important as it is the story that brings the insight and music together to deliver the underlying message and emotional impact. No one tells a better story than Aldi with Kevin the carrot’s adventures. Back for more drama, Kevin keeps us entertained whilst keeping Aldi front of mind. Whilst special mentions go to Sainsbury’s and Tesco for excellent stories, this year Coca-Cola that told a great narrative about a father trying to get home for Christmas. Granted not the most original but it was delivered very well.


John Lewis taught us how important a great track was to a Christmas ad and this year they came out top again with the BWP team, with another originally recorded song, that will no doubt make an appearance in the Christmas charts. Amazon’s music was also scored high, which helped to deliver their highly emotive and powerful message in a theatrical way.


The hot debate every year is whether John Lewis’s ads are too cookie cutter, which demonstrates the importance of originality. People want to see something new, as newness inspires people and raises their interests. Enter Tesco, with their very funny naughty list and my personal favourite ad, the TK Maxx goat. Both very different from what we’re used to which helps them to cut through the noise of a crowded ad schedule.

So, with those all-important secret sauce ingredients covered, here’s how the 25 strong BWP team ranked the 12 ads of Christmas.

  1. Tesco
  2. Sainsbury’s
  3. Amazon
  4. John Lewis
  5. Aldi
  6. Argos
  7. TK Maxx
  8. Coca-Cola
  9. Very
  10. M&S
  11. Morrison’s
  12. Asda

What was your favourite ad based on these ingredients?

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