As we head into the festive season, the highly anticipated Christmas adverts are beginning to take over our tv screens and social media feeds in the hope of spreading joy and nostalgia at a time when the country needs a bit of a pick me up.

Christmas is typically a lavish time. In the UK, household spending increases by around 29% in December, but this year feels a little different. Retailers have responded to the current cost of living crisis by toning down the narrative behind their festive ad campaigns.

Rather than spend spend spend, it would seem ads are pushing charity, kindness and nostalgia this Christmas in a bid to put the focus on those that need help and show their awareness (and understanding) of the current climate.

Now, we all know that all these campaigns are still marketing ploys at the end of the day… but we are choosing to reflect positively on the smart choices behind these brands to share the spotlight with their chosen charities and initiatives.

John Lewis is arguably the most anticipated Christmas advert of the year, and very rarely do they disappoint! This year was as brilliant as ever and pulled on the nation’s heartstrings as they put a focus on the care-experienced community, celebrating kindness rather than spending.

Not only did the advert bring attention to a much-needed community but John Lewis are continuing to show support through a number of ways, such as donations of Christmas decorations, food and gifts to people leaving care and running a pilot scheme to help care-experienced people gain skills to help set them up in their careers. John Lewis are also donating a percentage of certain sales to their chosen charities Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland.

Nothing hits you in the feels more than a make-believe Christmas character and wow did O2’s Snowgran leave us all a bit teary-eyed. Isolation and feeling alone is something we all can relate to a lot more now following on from the (dare I say the word) pandemic. O2 this year focuses on keeping us all connected, especially those that need it most, by highlighting the work they do with National Databank / Good Things Foundation.

After a difficult year for the country, it is nice to see Barbour incorporating the much loved Paddington Bear into their 2022 Christmas ad. Admired by generations and an unlikely royal mascot, Paddington has the ability to spread joy (and marmalade) whilst also promoting the Barbour Wax for Life initiative which encourages people to upcycle their clothes!

Alongside kindness and charity, some brands have put a focus on nostalgia and one retailer that is sparking a lot of conversation surrounding this is Asda! If you haven’t seen the ad, where on earth have you been??? Buddy the Elf pays a trip to Asda and the very clever team that put this together has made sure to reference stand-out moments from the film to bring a smile to our faces. Nothing too spectacular or over the top, just a nice sprinkle of nostalgia and festiveness! (A special marketing nod goes out to the fantastic editing and production behind this one too.)

It’s refreshing to see brands showing awareness that things are a bit different this year. Although we’d all love nothing more than to skip down the aisles of M&S filling our trolleys to the brim with festive goodness (and we are certain that the commercial teams behind these big brands are still preparing for success), it’s just not doable right now for many, so thank you brands for spreading joy in your own way this year!

All Insights