It’s officially December, which means most Christmas adverts have been out for about five months now. There are some heartfelt adverts, like Apple’s, some funny adverts, like Tesco’s, and also some adverts.
Across the board, agencies and directors did seem to be looking for more authentic portrayals of the holiday period, which is refreshing, as well as utilising some weirder concepts. As always, there were a few too many to digest in a single sitting, so we’ve gathered together our five favourites. But, if you only have time for one, we’d direct you to this excellent Christmas advert for a pub in Ireland which was shot for £700 and proves that you don’t need a huge budget to deliver something creative and sincere.
TBWA\Media Arts Lab: Fuzzy Feelings, Apple
Not since Steve Jobs pulled a floppy disk out of his shirt pocket has Apple gone this hard. Fuzzy Feelings is not only arguably the best Christmas advert of 2023, it’s one of the most memorable stop motions of the year full stop.
In an office at Christmas, we follow the tumultuous relationship between one worker and manager – a real life scrooge if you ever saw one. We discover the office worker has a secret talent for stop motion which is used to exact revenge on the boss’ miniature felt double.
The animation blends live action and stop motion wonderfully, with directors Lucia Aniello and Anna Mantzaris taking a divide-and-conquer approach to the animated and filmed sequences. It also has the true mark of a good Christmas ad in my opinion; I cried relentlessly and felt happy about it.
BBH London: Become More Christmas, Tesco
This one’s solid, if a bit strange. The premise is that as people feel more Christmassy they turn into literal Christmas characters. But at the centre is a nice narrative about a parent trying to connect with a teenager who is a bit too cool for kiddy stuff like decorating the tree.
There’s some fun to be had with this concept and directors Alaska and BBH London introduce some clever visual gags, like a Tesco delivery driver who is revealed to have legs made of gingerbread.
Saatchi & Saatchi: Snapper, John Lewis & Partners
Saatchi & Saatchi’s very first Christmas ad for John Lewis was a bit of a gamble. Rather than following the more emotionally-driven formula Adam&EveDDB employed so successfully for years, the agency went a weirder route; the spot features a Venus flytrap who tries to fit in as a family’s Christmas tree.
The idea was to spotlight the untraditional, unusual and unexpected. While Adam&EveDDB’s work has left an unforgettable imprint on advertising, this is an exciting shake-up with plenty of surprising moments.
Uncommon Creative: The Bag for Life, JD Sports
JD Sports’ Christmas ad is beautiful. It all centres around the iconic drawstring JD bag, which is just a fantastic idea. Captured tenderly by director Amara Abbas, we see how the bag has become a piece of British iconography, whether carried on your back or on top of your head. The retailer often opts for a star-studded approach for its Christmas ads, but this year the likes of Kano, Central Cee and Ella Toone are shot in living rooms and local footy pitches rather than studios.
“Christmas ads in Britain always lean on the same tropes and every year it feels more extreme,” says Uncommon. “We felt showing an alternative Christmas would be really interesting. Essentially seeing behind the front doors of the rest of Britain.”
AMV BBDO: Royal Mail, In Good Hands
Taking a more poetic approach this year is Royal Mail with its campaign, In Good Hands. Director Tom Green has made the bold decision to not show the face of our protagonist. Instead, we just see hands exchanging post and opening doorways – the regular day-to-day stuff that goes into the Christmas rush.
It’s filmed to a poem by TS Eliot Prize-winner Roger Robinson, which reflects the highs and lows of quotidian life. A welcome shift from the usual fodder.
TBWA\Media Arts Lab / Lucia Aniello / Anna Mantzaris: Apple, Fuzzy Feelings, production by Passion Pictures and Hungry Man (Copyright © Apple, 2023)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.