With just five weeks to go before Christmas, all the big brands have started broadcasting their best Christmas adverts. Christmas adverts, typically this signifies the beginning of the festivities for many Brits and means that it’s officially acceptable to eat mince pies.

The broadcasting of Christmas adverts from brands like John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Coca Cola and Disney begins the annual race to promote the right message to win over consumers and promote their brand.

Following the challenging year we have all faced, brands have unsurprisingly been adjusting their messaging to avoid the very real risk of appearing tone deaf to a deflated nation.

The Castle team have been digging deeper into the brands that struck the right note with their Christmas ads this year.

How has COVID-19 affected Christmas ads in 2020?

This year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Christmas advertisements in 2020 have had to pay homage to the challenges faced by many. How would the major retailers tackle the annual push to convince consumers to part with their cash at Christmas, whilst we are all enduring a global pandemic and economic downturn?

There is always a huge anticipation every year surrounding Christmas adverts. All the big brands usually launch big-budget campaigns to celebrate the festive season and encourage spending. But with a recession looming, big brands like John Lewis couldn’t be seen to spend millions of pounds on advertisements whilst they lay off thousands of staff. So, in light of this, what Christmas adverts have brands deemed appropriate to promote themselves and encourage us all to spend our hard-earned cash at their store?

A rundown of the best Christmas adverts we have seen so far in 2020

John Lewis – Give A Little Love


John Lewis and Waitrose begin the festive season with their “Give A Little Love” charity campaign, which focuses on kindness rather than gift-giving. It aims to help families that are struggling amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The heart-warming advert shows “how acts of kindness, large and small, can multiply and positively impact the world in which we live as we pass them on to others.”

John Lewis and Waitrose have announced that all profits will go to their partnership charities FareShare and Home-Start. Both charities help parents in need of support. The ‘Give A Little Love’ aims to raise £4m for the chosen charities. The range of ‘Give A Little Love’ merchandise aims to target consumers and includes a heart umbrella featured in the advert.

Tesco – No Naughty List


This year Tesco have brought the humour that we have been waiting for. The Christmas ad shows the community admitting to their naughty secrets this year, hoping that they won’t make the naughty list. But following the challenging year we have faced, there is no naughty list even if you did stock up on the toilet roll. The Britney Spears “Oops I Did It Again” soundtrack encourages us all to forget about the “naughty” things and treat ourselves at Christmas after such a difficult year.

Sainsbury’s – Gravy Song Christmas 2020

Sainsbury’s are connecting with consumers this Christmas on a more personal level. Their nostalgic Christmas adverts showcase three short films to get viewers into the Christmas spirit. The first short film shows a father and daughter reminiscing about Christmas and their excitement about spending it together this year over their favourite food. Each of the three short films ends with the line “Food is Home. Home is Christmas.”

Head of broadcast marketing at Sainsbury’s Emma Bisley said: “We know that this year has been different for everyone, so we wanted to take a different approach with our Christmas campaign. W wanted to remind people that Christmas dishes are gestures of love and care. It’s our memories of these dishes, that have the power to transport us home – whether we’re there or not.”

Coca Cola – Christmas 2020

If you haven’t already shed a tear from any Christmas adverts this year, Coca Cola’s ad definitely will. The ad was directed by Oscar-winner Taika Waititi. It showcases a father trying to deliver his daughters Christmas letter to Santa. Despite the challenges he faces along the way, the father doesn’t stop to get the letter to Santa. However, his daughter only has one wish… for her dad to be home for Christmas. The Coca Cola advert ends with “This Christmas, give something only you can give.”

With the difficult year due to the pandemic, the fizzy drink brand promotes the message that whether it is in person, a video call, or a text message, making time for the ones you love is what makes Christmas truly the most special time of year, no matter how you do it. The ad captures the iconic Coca Cola truck, which kick-starts the countdown to Christmas for many.

Disney – From Our Family to Yours

Disney has tugged on heartstrings yet again, in an animated short film. The three-minute ad is in support of the children’s Make-A-Wish charity. The short film tells the story of a grandmother, her granddaughter and the family traditions they have experienced throughout the years. The ad builds on nostalgia, Christmas traditions and sentiments.

The Christmas ad features the vintage-inspired Mickey Mouse soft toy and Disney-inspired ‘Easter Eggs’. Consumers can purchase the limited-edition vintage Mickey Mouse toy from The Disney Store. And proceeds from online store purchases will support Make-A-Wish.

Aldi – Kevin the Carrot


Popular every year, ‘Kevin the Carrot’ and his family are back and bringing with him some much-needed magic and wonder. The ad focuses on Kevin who is trying to get home to his family in time for Christmas. The ad features some friends he makes along the way who try to help him get home. This ad provides some much-needed light-hearted comic relief this year. It also touches on the topics of family and togetherness with the line ‘Now more than ever, there’s nothing quite like Christmas together’.

Amazon – The Show Must Go On


This year Amazon has created a heart-warming and inspiring advert. It shows how the coronavirus pandemic has affected people and highlights the positive effects of communities coming together.

Set to the soundtrack of Queen’s ‘The Show Must Go On’, the ad tells the inspiring story of a 17-year-old French ballet dancer. Taïs Vinolo dreams of dancing a lead role in a ballet are cancelled due to Covid-19. She doesn’t let this hold her back though and continues to train at home, dancing wherever and whenever she can. Inspired by her determination, her sister and her local community come together. They provide her with a stage and an audience so she can perform her dance in an emotional finale.

Amazon’s ad perfectly captures how many people have been left disappointed this year due to cancelled plans and lost opportunities. But it also shows the importance of community spirit and how acts of kindness can make someone feel that little bit better during these tough times.

What did the best Christmas adverts have in common this year?

Christmas adverts mark the start of the festive period; it begins the countdown to Christmas and sets off the Christmas spirit. Some are tear-jerking, others are humorous and some are cinematic, all of which make a memorable and effective Christmas advert. So, what makes a good and memorable Christmas advert in 2020?

They tell great stories.

Often the most memorable Christmas adverts are the ones that are portrayed through a child’s eyes. It shows the emotion and excitement children experience that resonates with so many. Whether the story conveys emotion, humour or nostalgia, it becomes a part of a memorable ad that can be shared. The story plays an important role in connecting with the audience to create a sense of festivity and excitement for the months to come. Especially with the difficult year, we have all experienced. Brands more than ever have showcased that festivity we all have been waiting for.

A screenshot of the Disney christmas advert, showing a young girl hugging her Mickey Mouse toy below multicoloured lights.

They have a meaningful message.

Over the years, brands have moved away from focusing on products and towards meaningful concepts. For example, love, giving and Christmas traditions to resonate with consumers more. Nearly half of the ads released at Christmas use a meaningful message to promote their products. In comparison to a normal advertisement. More and more brands each year choose to support charities throughout the festive period. Not only does this promote a meaningful message, but it also brings awareness to a cause and promotes a positive brand image. They tend to portray the true meaning of Christmas to connect with a variety of consumers to promote their brand and products more subtly.

They have clear branding.

John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s are just a few brands that have clear branding strategy’s off the back of their Christmas advertisement. Christmas adverts in 2020 have become a time where brands push the boundaries of their advertisement. Whether that is pulling on the heartstring to purchase John Lewis’s “Give A Little Love” range or shopping at Disney for the new Mickey Mouse soft toy. With the right Christmas ad promoting the right message, brands can increase sales and create a sense of exclusivity around their products.

Coca Cola Truck

They sometimes include a call to action.

Many Christmas adverts in 2020 have ended with a call to action. Whether this is “This Christmas, give something only you can give” from Coca Cola or “Food is Home. Home is Christmas” from Sainsbury’s they tell the viewer what to do next. The most successful ad communicates the spirit of Christmas. By highlighting their brand values, with the intention that you will visit their website and make a purchase. If a purchase is not made immediately, the Christmas ad will generate brand awareness and build trust with the consumer.

Here at Castle, we are one of the leading marketing agencies in the UK, working with a variety of clients from a wide range of industries to develop strong and effective marketing strategies that generate revenue, increase brand awareness and help grow their business.

We create bespoke marketing strategies, unique to your business, and tailored to your requirements to deliver the best results. To find out more about how Castle can help create tailored campaigns to promote and grow your business, visit our website or contact us.