Alas, the year 2020 is finally coming to an end. The year of the global pandemic, filled with facemasks, copious amounts of hand sanitizer, never-ending Zoom meetings and even a toilet paper shortage. Yes, a toilet paper shortage — who knew? But the end of the year also means another rendition of my annual (yep, that's right, folks — I'm making it official) top list of holiday adverts. Join me, as I pour myself a festive cocktail (recipe below), put on some classic Christmas tunes and take a stroll through this year's campaigns that may make you laugh, cry, but most importantly, remind us of what the Christmas spirit is all about.
Take care of yourself
Typically, I find it very hard to rank these because 1) I love Christmas and 2) there’s usually so many great ones. However, this year, this one takes the (fruit)cake for me (hah- alright, I used that joke last year, moving on…). I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this year’s batch of ads – would they completely ignore COVID and do their regular non-pandemic era ad? Or would they lean in too hard with dramatic, depressing music; or bring on the cringe by wishing you a Merry Covid Christmas?
This one. This one did absolutely none of that. I feel as though there is a subtle nod to the older man being isolated and utilizing this time to get back into shape before the holidays. I had to look up what Doc Morris was, and for a German Pharmacy, this ad is simply brilliant. They take the title of being #1 ad for me this year. Watch for yourself.
Give a little love - Waitrose & John Lewis
Ah, John Lewis. Some might say the King of the Christmas advert – and you know what? They’re not wrong. Coming in at #2 on the list is Give a Little Love.
The art direction, the animation, the storytelling; it’s everything you want in a holiday ad during a not-so-great year. It doesn’t scream pandemic at all, but it gives some subtle nods (particularly that end copy), displaying struggles we all face and that sometimes, all we need is a little help, and a little love.
"The Greatest Gift" - Xfinity
Steve Carrell as Santa Claus? Say no more. #3 on the list certainly leans into the state-of-the-world but in such a clever and cute way – Zoom meetings and all.
With so many of us not being able to celebrate Christmas this year in our usual ways, this one really brought a smile to my face. It captured the most important thing that this year has taught us: not to take the time we spend with others for granted, and it truly is all about the little things.
I’ll admit it. This one made me cry. A telltale sign that it’s making it in the top five. It doesn’t hold the star power like its predecessor, but it is similar in style by bringing in the essence of what this year was all about – helping out one another.
The music pairs perfectly, the casting was spot on (did you see that dog?! Ah!) and each shot was framed just right. You deserve a lump of coal in your stocking if this one doesn't bring a tear to your eye.
The show must go on - Amazon
I kind of hate that Amazon rounds out our list (shop local!), but I have to give credit where credit is due. There is a reason their silly singing smile box didn’t make the list last year, but boy did they turn that around.
Coming in at number five, they too, leaned into the year that never was in true everything-is-canceled fashion. But what they did was truly magical. Not only were they able to actually showcase products (not always easy in big production holiday advertising) but they did so all while telling a beautiful story, paired with clever copywriting, and the Christmas Covid community-spirit.
Honourable mention: A Call to Joy - Hudson's Bay
And of course, my honourable mention goes to Hudson’s Bay, who thankfully brought a little Schitt’s Creek into this holiday season with Annie Murphy and Catherine O’Hara. For that – I am grateful.
The ad isn’t particularly special or aw-worthy, and while I’m a little disappointed they didn’t show up as their characters Alexis and Moira Rose, Catherine O’Hara is a true Canadian treasure and that’s reason enough to round out this year’s list.
Well, holiday campaign-lovers, thanks for joining me on that emotional rollercoaster. Here's hoping I brought two kinds of spirits into your day (one being the holiday). Not quite 5pm yet? Don't worry, we're all working from home, anyway. Go ahead, pour that cocktail. Cheers.
ZGM Holiday Cocktail recipe
Step One: Grab your fanciest glass.
Step Two: Pour in 1.5 oz Gin (or 2... I won't judge)
Step Three: Splash of pomegranate juice for some colour and deliciousness.
Step Four: Top it off with aromatic tonic (or regular tonic but the more boujee, the better)
Step Five: Garnish with frozen cranberries and sprig of rosemary (this makes it look like you know what you're doing)
Step Six: Drink up.