Some of Britain’s best loved brands mark the start of Christmas

Freshwater’s account executive Ross Tyson reflects on the big Christmas adverts of 2016

Trampoline your way into the red-cupped, tinsel covered, Mariah Carey-backed festive season. You may not have put your tree up yet but, in the retail and wider commercial world, Christmas is upon us. It means your bank account may take a bit of a beating and a quiet walk through town is virtually impossible, but Christmas ads are back to play with your emotions.

John Lewis

The John Lewis Christmas advert has evolved from the simple festive TV spot of ages past. Now it creates as much anticipation as a Hollywood blockbuster and sometimes even has the budget to rival one.

This year’s effort moved away from the poignant “Man on the Moon” of 2015 and overall has far less of a ‘tearjerker’ feel. In my opinion, it works, and #BusterTheBoxer is one of this year’s finest ads, with people expressing their love all over social media. It’s often a harder brief to make an audience laugh, rather than cry, but Buster and friends definitely manage it.

Watch the 2016 John Lewis Christmas advert here.


2014’s WWI inspired effort was a humble reminder of the past, drawing plenty of plaudits, and last year “Mog the cat” found a place in our hearts despite cremating a turkey. This year, Sainsbury’s has taken a different approach. An everyman father, whose thoughts are sung aloud by James Corden, struggles with the festive balancing act. A thoughtful gift from his daughter brings about an epiphany; “the greatest gift I can give my family is me.”

It’s a nice message with flawless graphics; in fact the video could well be a song plucked straight from an animated Christmas musical.

Watch the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert here.

Marks and Spencer

M&S’s main Christmas commercial shifts the focus from Mr to Mrs Claus. A young boy, who is a regular fighter in the sibling war, writes to Mrs Claus and we see his letter played out by a typical family.

Those well-versed in the arts of advertising may be able to predict the ending, but even so it’s a heart-warming spot, that will bring a tear to the eye (it may already have done here at Freshwater).

The advert has a refreshing feminist feel, and with M&S boss Steve Rowe coming under fire earlier in the year for his ‘Mrs M&S’ comments, the shift in focus, away from Santa or woodland creatures and onto his hardworking, heroic wife, is sure to be welcomed by the general public.

Watch the M&S Christmas advert here.


Aldi is a relative newcomer to the festive TV tussle. Last year Aldi took a tongue in cheek swipe at John Lewis but this year they’ve gone with a unique story. A carrot named Kevin is, like many of us on Christmas Eve, determined to meet Santa. A story is narrated by Jim Broadbent, while Kevin makes his way across the dining table to Santa and Rudolph’s plate.

Aldi’s effort is certainly very ‘Christmassy’ and encapsulates that magical feeling of Christmas Eve.

Watch the Aldi Christmas advert here.


Waitrose’s 2016 campaign has a distinct ‘John Lewis feel’ to it. Unsurprising perhaps as Waitrose is part of the John Lewis Partnership.  A young girl pops a mince pie in her snowy garden in the hope a familiar robin will get to enjoy it. The robin itself then starts on his epic journey.

The campaign, like many others this year, has the look and feel of a movie thanks to its gorgeous cinematography. A lovely effort.

Watch the Waitrose Christmas advert here.

Some of these adverts may begin to grate on you after the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth viewing, but what’s Christmas without the battle of the adverts?

Have we missed out on any of your favourites? Let us know on social media: @FreshwaterUK

Freshwater delivers strategic communications consultation for public relations and marketing campaigns across private, public and not for profit sectors. 


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Impact Report 2017

Impact report 2017