War of the Christmas Adverts 2017

It’s the UK superbowl of advertising, the yearly retail Christmas showdown. Once the domain of John Lewis, over the past few years more and more stores have come on board, launching bigger, shinier campaigns. It’s not enough anymore just to have a TV advert. You also need a merchandising opportunity, a charity partnership, a spin-off digital campaign and, ideally, some sort of big PR partnership. An expensive business, but one which has terrific PR attached to it, if it’s done well.

John Lewis

The release of the John Lewis Christmas campaign is a highlight of the advertising calendar, and something which permeates the zeitgeist, with consumers waiting excitedly for its launch.

This year, they’ve gone for Moz the Monster – a giant, blue, sort of friendly/slightly terrifying beast who befriends a young boy. Reacting, presumably, to a couple of years of criticism (a man on the moon, and a dog on a trampoline) they’ve returned to the winning formula of 2014’s Monty the Penguin, using a small child and his friend to evoke warm, fuzzy feelings of Yuletide joy.

Marks and Spencer

M&S have gone for an easy (but presumably expensive) win this year, tagging on to the launch of Paddington 2 with a lovely tale featuring the little bear. He’s a national treasure, and the story is heart-warming – with merchandising opportunities overflowing, it’s sure to be a financial winner for the retailer. My one criticism – it’s not really got any link to the store. So much so that they’ve created an entirely separate set of adverts to promote the things they sell.


Winner of the Marketing Week readers’ favourite ad, Debenhams have well and truly joined the big boys. An epic short film with a fairy tale feel, narrated by none other than Ewan McGregor, this has charm, style, and that feel-good holiday spirit that we expect at this time of year. It’s a good old fashioned Christmas ad, with some great product placement too.


Not strictly speaking one of the retailers we expect to enter the Christmas race, but this lovely little advert deserves a special mention. Part of the current brand campaign featuring Martin Freeman, it’s a “Love Actually” style set up, leveraging his excellent acting skills to create a mini story of new love. We’re not sure they really needed a Christmas advert, but it won’t have done them any harm.


Christmas adverts, focusing on the true spirit of the holiday, and bringing people together. This is another such entry, with the story of two sisters growing up together, and a great hashtag which links to the brand proposition - #ShowThemYouKnowThem.