The No Brainer Christmas advert round-up

After the long-awaited John Lewis Christmas advert was released last week, No Brainer HQ was buzzing with people giving their views on Excitable Edgar the dragon and his propensity for setting things on fire… Before long, we felt a blog post coming on!

It’s safe to say that John Lewis has forced their way to the front as the forerunners of Christmas ads, but how do they do it?!

From many (many, many) discussions about all the John Lewis Christmas adverts of the past (and lots of re-watching them on YouTube!) it has become clear that John Lewis has developed a formidable festive formula that will keep them topping the table year after year (let’s leave 2017’s Moz the Monster out of this one, okay?) – and we reckon we’ve cracked it!

  1. Never use a Christmas song: pique peoples’ interest from the get-go and use a well-known song performed by someone who we just can’t quite place, it’ll be in the charts before we know it
  2. The all-important pull-at-the-heart-strings-tear-inducing moment that will get everyone talking
  3. Finally, the happy ending. Order is restored, Christmas is no longer cancelled, and we can all relax knowing once again, that John Lewis is the place to go for all our Christmas needs

We’ve reviewed some of our favourite John Lewis ads of all time, so why not brighten up your day with a dose of Christmas, as we take a festive walk down advert memory lane…

Buster the Boxer

 Ops Manager, Mel was quick to peg bouncing Buster as her favourite Christmas advert, and we can’t really blame her! Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing the cast of ‘The Animals of Farthing Wood’ bouncing around on a trampoline in the early hours of Christmas morning?

The advert also symbolises the impact of giving gifts ‘that everyone will love’. John Lewis has already established itself as everyone’s Christmas shopping go-to, and Buster only serves to drive this message home further.

Monty the Penguin

Senior Account Manager Michelle and Account Manager Hannah both said that loveable penguin, Monty was their favourite as this advert shows that the best gift you can give is love.

We fell in love with Monty and the little boy’s friendship and our hearts collectively broke when we found out the penguin wasn’t real. But it did bring back great memories of childhood toys and nostalgia.

The advert did how serve as a lovely reminder of the importance of looking after our loved ones at Christmas and giving them a Christmas they’ve been dreaming of.

The Long Wait

 Lauren, our Account Director, was pretty adamant about this entry, and will ‘have nothing bad said about it’ – and to be honest we all agreed!

The Long Wait truly captures the spirit of Christmas and takes us back to basics with what Christmas is all about; giving.

We think the little boy is impatiently waiting for a new X-Box, but instead, he just can’t wait to give his gift to his parents.

We’re not ashamed to say that most of us cried re-watching this absolute gem, and as Lauren said, it showcases some of the best parts of Christmas (including wearing a tea towel on your head for the Nativity!)

Man on the Moon

Our Director, Lee, said that this particular advert couldn’t be missed off the list, as it tackles such an important issue at Christmas; loneliness.

Partnering with Age UK, Man on the Moon tells the story of how a little girl manages to bring Christmas to a lonely old man living on the moon, gifting him a telescope so he can see down to earth.

We have to admit, this one is a real tear-jerker, but Lee is absolutely right when he says that it makes you think of all those people for whom Christmas can be a tough time, and might push you to do something to bring them some Christmas cheer.

Elton John Lewis

John Lewis’ 2018 effort featuring Elton John was backed by our Account Exec, Will.

This advert is perfect for any Elton John fan (which is probably why Will likes it!) but also brings back fond memories for anyone who received a particularly remarkable Christmas gift that they’ve remember for years afterwards.

We can stand the subtle promo for his biopic which came out this year, as this advert really does show the impact of the ‘perfect gift’ and the lasting effect thoughtfulness can have.

The Bear and the Hare

Account Exec Helen swapped and changed a bit on her favourite of the Christmas adverts, but finally settled on John Lewis’ Bear and the Hare.

Accompanied by Lily Allen singing ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ this advert is a proper tear-jerker, as we witness the bear experience the magic of Christmas for the very first time.

As the advert draws to a close, we see that the hare gave its friend an alarm clock so that he didn’t miss the day – giving him so much more, a day he’d never forget.

However, not everyone agreed that John Lewis always produces the best advert year on year, and, not wanting to be biased, we agreed that they deserved some recognition…

1918 – Sainsbury’s

First up is this heartfelt entry from Sainsbury’s, which was vouched for by both our Director, Gary and Account Manager, Becks.

From a truly PR perspective, Becks points out that this advert was so effective because it really got people talking. Some viewed it as fairly controversial, as they argued that it wasn’t right to use war to sell food and drink.

However, what it does show, is the true spirit of Christmas, and that it is a time of giving. Even better, all proceeds from the chocolate bar in the advert went to The Royal British Legion – now that’s Christmas spirit!

The Snowman (maybe, just maybe…) – Barbour

 A bit of an underdog, but just as lovely nonetheless, is our next entry, which was put forward by our Senior Account Exec, Emily.

Celebrating 40 years of The Snowman, Barbour brings to life the iconic tale of The Snowman. As Emily says, the advert encapsulates the importance of family at Christmas time, as well as the priceless memories that are made.

Barbour steps away from being overly commercial and instead delivers an advert that fills us all with a warm feeling in our tummies. The little girl, Edie remains hopeful that her own snowman will come to life, comforted by the words ‘maybe, just maybe’ all while being reassured by her dad’s trusty Barbour coat.

And that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed this Christmassy trip down memory lane. If you’re not ready for it to be over, here are a few others that still deserve recognition:

M&S – With Love from Mrs Claus

Sainsbury’s – The Big Night 

Coca Cola – Holidays are comin’

Sainsbury’s – Mog’s Christmas Calamity

John Lewis – The Journey

Picture of Lee Cullen

Lee Cullen

Having worked in-house and agency-side, I have almost 15 years’ experience working in various marketing and communications roles. With an AMEC gold certificate in measurement and evaluation so I’m always looking to show outcomes and prove the impact of our work.

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