This is the season to be jolly and, if you’re in marketing, to be launching your holiday commercials! From November to December, while the rest of the world soaks in the festive spirit, creatives all over the world go all out trying to create the best Christmas commercials. And there’s good reason for all the toil and trouble: Christmas commercials signal the start of holiday season, warm the heart, and drive some incredible sales.
To help you score some of those holiday sales this year, here’s our Christmas gift to you: our wonderful list of the best Christmas commercials of all time! Not only will they put you in a great mood, but they’ll also give you a fresh set of ideas for your own Christmas ads. And if you stick around till the end, we will also share tips on how you can make a truly great Christmas commercial for your own brand.
Now if you’ve never edited a video before, don’t worry, because with InVideo’s free online video editor, pre-made templates, and some help from this list of the best Christmas commercials ever, you’ll be ready to create some cracking videos just in time for Christmas.
Here’s what we’ll show you:
1. Our List of the Best Christmas Commercials of all time
2. Pro-tips on what makes a memorable holiday commercial
3. BONUS: How to making a stunning TV-quality Christmas commercial without the TV quality price-tag
Let’s dive right in!
1. Our List of the Best Christmas Commercials of All Time
When it comes to famous Christmas holiday commercials, there’s the classic and modern ones. In this list, we’ll show you both, tell you why we love them, and share links to similar and free to use templates to help you create your own holiday commercial.
Let’s start with the classics.
1) Hershey’s Holiday Bells by Hershey’s, 1989
Our first pick is Hershey’s longest running commercial, which did so well that it was the company’s holiday commercial until last year! For the ad, the brand’s bell-shaped Kisses chocolates and wrapped in traditional Christmas colours took centre-stage, ringing out a much loved Christmas tune.
The magic touch? According to sources, it is one single moment in the ad: at the very end of the commercial, the Kiss on the far right starts ringing frantically, and when the tune stops, the frenzied chocolate "wipes its brow" using its ribbon as if it were an arm, and sighs, “Phew!” This helps bring home the innocence and whimsiness of the brand.
This approach was simple, yet effective. Just 15 seconds long, the commercial’s popularity (and eventually the chocolate’s) reportedly led Hershey’s to convert the $400 million Kisses business from a seasonal offering into an everyday candy.
Fun Fact: this ad is popularly known as a ‘Case Study in Timelessness.’
Pro tip: You can make your own short and sweet holiday commercial, replete with the sights and sounds of Christmas, with this template.
2) Tom’s Coming Home for Christmas by Hallmark, 1990
Some holiday commercials show stories which feel like they’re right out of our own favourite Christmas memories. In the winter of 1990, Hallmark released something just like that: a gorgeous advertisement narrated by a little boy. Everything in it - the house, the family, the plot - was something that an average American would relate to. The ad really highlighted the importance of family and togetherness during the holidays.
Even today, eliciting an emotional response is a huge part of Hallmark’s Christmas prep, because the bottom line is that the channel’s holiday programming gets viewers seriously revved up to shop. Recent data suggests that Hallmark’s holiday ads, and retailers’ ads hosted by the channel, have helped generate billions in social media impressions and revenue for the retailers who advertised with them.
3) Merry Christmas from Kellogg’s by Kellogg’s Ireland, 1991
This sweet Christmas commercial struck a deep chord with most American audiences; it spoke to anyone who had waited up all night for Santa, as well as anyone who’d ever wanted a hearty bowl of midnight snacks.
There were two genius tricks employed in this Xmas commercial: one was replacing the traditional plate of mince pies (a snack most families leave by the fireplace for Santa) with a box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes, and the second was the little girl’s “Ho ho ho” which viewers remember till today, thirty years later!
4) The Long Wait by John Lewis and Partners, 2011
John Lewis and Partners, a high-end department store chain from the UK, Ireland, and Australia, are world-famous for the beautiful Christmas commercials they roll out every year.
Every year, their Christmas ads are immediately watched and shared by millions online in record time. Our favourite one (if we could pick only one) is their 2011 Xmas ad titled ‘The Long Wait’. A real tear-jerker that’s life affirming, this ad was an instant hit, pushing the season’s sales up by 9.3% year on year to £596m in the five weeks to December 2011.
Quite like their ethos of putting their heart into everything they do, the spirit of their holiday advertisements too is one of love and warmth.
Pro tip: If you want to create heart-warming ads around gifting or ones which highlight the bond between children and parents, you can begin by customizing this sweet Make a Gift template on InVideo. And if you’re wondering how to edit this template, this simple tutorial will help you out.
5) 1914 by Sainsbury, 2014
(P.S.: have a box of tissues ready)!
On par with John Lewis’s festive ads are ads by Sainsbury, London’s popular supermarket chain and holiday marketing heavyweight. Every Sainsbury Christmas commercial shows people coming together to share a special meal, and our favourite one features chocolate and a true story set during the First World War.
The ad is based on writings found in the personal diary of an English soldier, describing a Christmas truce which took place on No Man’s Land between the English and German troops on Christmas Eve. Here’s the full story.
Watched by ten million YouTube viewers in the week following its release, this ad helped sell the supermarket’s entire Christmas stock of the featured chocolate in just seven days, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Royal British Legion.
Not just that, Sainsbury massively outperformed other brands that year – generating 10 times more mentions across social media platforms than Marks and Spencer and Asda combined.
6) Christmas with Love from Mrs. Claus by Marks and Spencer, 2016
Where do we even begin with this one? The best thing this Christmas commercial did was introduce us to Mrs. Claus — Santa’s better, and dare we say, cooler half who secretly moonlights as a delivery agent for last minute gift requests addressed to her husband, Mr. Klaus. From the sweetest voiceover to the familiar face of actor Janet McTeer (of Tumbleweeds fame), this ad gives us innocence, glamour and a modern backstory to Christmas gifts.
By weaving a pair of M&S’s sparkly red sneakers into the narrative, the brand seamlessly made itself part of the 2016 Christmas spirit. M&S also integrated Mrs.Claus into its immersive mobile shopping experience. Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of customer, marketing and M&S.com, said, “Across social, in store, mobile and online she’ll be there to help our customers with the build up to the big day by taking over our communication channels and surprising customers as they shop, ensuring that everyone will #LoveMrsClaus this year.”
Pro tip: If you want to feature Santa in your Chritsmas commercial, try using this fun InVideo template.
7) Reindeer Ready by McDonald’s UK, 2018
McDonald’s UK’s genius 2018 Xmas commercial gave Christmas a lovely Golden Arches twist by featuring some adorable hungry reindeers.
Fun fact: along with the commercial, the fast food giant also launched the ‘Reindeer Ready Live App’, to let parents capture footage of Santa’s reindeers stopping over at their house on Christmas Eve, and added a bag of ‘carrot treats’ to their menus (so that no reindeer would go hungry!).
Obviously, this effort was a huge hit with the kids as well as YouTube viewers, with the commercial ranking in the best Christmas commercials of 2018.
8) Come Together by H&M X Wes Anderson, 2016
Retail giant H&M pulled out all the stops by getting Wes Anderson to put his quintessential spin on Christmas for their Xmas commercial. Anderson, in turn, created a short film starring Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody as the conductor in charge of a stranded train on Christmas Eve.
By the end of the day of release, the ad had reportedly chalked up more than two million YouTube views. Bearing the director’s signature sense of humour, nostalgia, and the company’s great looking pastel-toned clothes, the ad really melted our hearts. That winter, H&M’s fiscal fourth-quarter pretax profit is reported to have risen to 7.4 billion crowns ($839 million) from 7.2 billion in the same period the year earlier.
Pro tip: If you’re looking at bringing fashion and Christmas together for your brand, this InVideo template can be a great fit for your video.
9) Holidays: The Surprise by Apple, 2019
For many, the holiday season brings a sense of loneliness, especially if they’re grieving for loved ones who are no longer with them to celebrate the season. Apple’s 2019 holidays commercial tells this story beautifully, with the iPad as a thread leading us to “The Surprise”.
The magic touch? The soundtrack: Pixar’s iconic music score from Up, which also relates to this theme of love, loss and grief. The tears that will stream down your face through the advertisement are well worth it, because it ends in the most life-affirming way.
Not only has this commercial joined the best Christmas commercials of all time, it’s also succeeded in marrying technology with the very human act of celebration and togetherness.
10) Take Care of Yourself by Doc Morris, 2020
In 2020, Doc Morris, a German-Dutch pharmacy chain, stunned the world with their beautiful Christmas commercial featuring a weightlifting grandfather.
The ad went live in Germany, Spain, France and Switzerland in early December 2020, and achieved more than 147 million views worldwide, including 28 million views on YouTube, 109 million on Facebook and 10 million on other channels, making it one of the most watched online Christmas videos in the world.
This was part of the company’s effort to foster a new brand identity centred in care, and it reportedly paid off: by the end of 2020 the number of active customers had risen by more than 50 per cent year on year to 10.5 million, with a gain of 700,000 on the quarter.
11) Gucci Gift by Gucci, 2020
We love this office Christmas party commercial because one, it’s relatable, and two, because it goes retro while retaining a modern, minimalist and very chic aesthetic — qualities closely associated with the luxury brand. During a time when we were all locked in and working from home, this one made us long for the good ol’ days of office parties.
Releasing this ad on social media, the brand shared that the “holiday party set in the 90s where the workplace becomes an impromptu mix of dance floor, nightclub and bar is the theme of the new #GucciGift campaign directed by #AkinolaDaviesJR.”
Pro tip: If you want to create a stunning and off-beat party commercial for Christmas, start by customizing this InVideo template to your needs.
12) Kindness, the Greatest Gift by Amazon, 2021
There’s a lot to love about Amazon’s 2021 holidays advertisement. Firstly, it goes beyond visuals of family gatherings during Christmas and focuses instead on quieter, more meaningful connections (which is both unique and refreshing) and secondly, it acknowledges individual struggles during this time of the year. This feels more inclusive to all those who cannot be with family and friends for the holidays.
Given the isolation of the past two years, it’s something a lot of us can relate to. Amazon’s advert helps filter the true messages of Xmas from all the festive materialism — kindness and connection.
Materially too, Amazon seems to have hit the mark; brand valuation firm Kantar Millward Brown’s study reportedly scored Amazon’s ad the highest for its persuasive power, a.k.a. what will convert a viewer to a buyer.
Pro tip: If you too want to make a Christmas commercial centered around the spirit of kindness, you can take a look at this graphic template on InVideo and tweak it to make it your own.
13) It’s the Very Best Excuse | Christmas is this Very Moment by Very, 2021
Launched in 2009, Very (formerly Woolworths) is a UK-based online retailer, selling everything from tech to tableware, whose recent Christmas ad is one of our favourites. Why? Because of its clear message: Christmas is the best excuse to do what you like. And for so many of us that ‘something’ is shopping!
Last year, Very reported record-breaking Christmas sales, adding more than 500,000 new customers, and processed 3.9m orders – peaking at 265 orders per minute. Sales climbed 25.2% year-on-year in the seven weeks up to and including Christmas Day, while overall group revenue grew 15.3% year-on-year to surpass £500m for the period for the first time. It makes a lot of sense that they’re channelling the same energy for this year too, through their fun Christmas commercial.
Pro tip: Shopping commercials can be a great way for your brand to drive conversions. You can try using this Christmas shopping template to create a catchy ad for your brand.
14) An Unlikely Friendship by Prime Video, 2021
This ad has a great appeal for all the pet lovers out there. With the idea of ‘entertainment’ as its unifying theme and ‘companionship’ as its Christmas message, the commercial features a hyena and a zookeeper. In line with the theme, Prime Video also committed to donate £100,000 to Pets As Therapy, a UK charity that works with volunteers and their therapy pets to give people access to the companionship of an animal to enrich their health and wellbeing.
Building on Prime Video’s Every Smile Tells A Story brand campaign, the Prime Video Christmas advert is positioned with the intention to remind consumers of the Prime Video catalogue of films available to watch in the run up to and during the festive season, including UK-produced Amazon Original Series Clarkson’s Farm, Good Omens, and more.
15) Best Bit of Christmas by Waitrose, 2021
In mid-November, Waitrose, a supermarket chain in the UK, created an ad which was a feast for our eyes, literally. For all those who believe that the best thing about Christmas is the food, this one will speak to your heart, because it puts delicious and hearty Christmas food extravaganza at the very centre. Made for TV and social media channels, this multi-starrer (including Ashley Jensen and Heston Blumenthal) featured some glorious Christmas treats made by Waitrose.
Heston Blumenthal said this about the ad: “My scrumptious Night Before Christmas Mince Pies and The Giant Cracking Penny make it even easier to be the ultimate host over the busy festive season! Our Christmas treats mean that you’ll still be able to wow your guests while also being able to focus on spending quality time together."
That was it for our list of the best Christmas commercials! If you noticed, besides having an engaging storyline, the way these videos were edited with strategic cuts, the addition of music, and use of motion graphics – all of these elements came together to make engaging commercials. You can do all of this on InVideo’s online video editor and use our collection of over 5,000 templates to create beautiful Christmas ads for your brand.
2. Pro-tips to make memorable holiday commercial
Now that you’ve seen some of the best Christmas commercials ever created, let’s unpack what makes them the best, and understand how to add that same formula to our own holiday commercials. Here are some pointers:
Tip #1 - Focus on selling an experience and not just a product
During this important time of the year, customers tend to look for brands that echo their own value system. As you may have noticed with the Apple commercial, it sells an emotional experience rather than just a product. That means not focusing so much on the tangible product, but more on the range of feelings it is capable of evoking in the customer.
Tip #2 - Show a Christmas story
To do this, you will first need to understand how your product or service can help enhance your customer’s Christmas experience. Next, you want to connect it to a core Christmas emotion, something like togetherness, nostalgia or the joy of family. You then want to create a relatable story that shows your customers how your product or service fulfills that core emotion. Once you have your basic storyline and your shots ready, you can put them together using InVideo to create a stunning commercial.
Tip #3 - Include a call to action
This is how good holiday commercials convert into sales. Marketing moguls believe that if a brand focuses purely on telling a great story but doesn’t have a clear purpose for the consumer, it can generate some enjoyment but little else. Experts suggest that the reason the likes of Amazon and Argos performed so well is because their ads combine strong storytelling with a single, clear benefit message that isn’t hammered home, but rather woven into an engaging story.
How can you stay product focused when there is so much other Christmas cheer to capture? Follow this golden rule: advertising is about providing the benefits of becoming or remaining one of your customers. To show these benefits, you’ll have to end up focusing on the product and the experience of using it.
Tip #4 - Wish your viewers Happy Holidays
Think of ads you've found iconic. Chances are they all have a catchy jingle or smart taglines that not only feel like they’re personally directed at you, but have also stayed with you for years. Take the Hershey’s Holiday Bells for example. Greetings, jingles, and taglines are tools which can make it easy for your viewers to remember what you do, especially if laced with humour or an unexpected twist.
Tip #5 - Use Christmas Customer data to perfect your script and strategy
Before you prepare your script, research your target audience. How do they usually speak? What phrases do they use? How would they describe your product? These insights will help you create a script that sounds natural. Check out our comprehensive, step-by-step guide to writing a video script.
Bonus Christmas Tip - Find out when your customers do their Christmas shopping. Research suggests that the week leading up to Christmas is when 60% of Americans do their holiday shopping, so plan to release your Christmas commercials accordingly!
3. BONUS: How to make a stunning TV-quality Christmas commercial without the TV quality price-tag
Inspiration? Check. Pro tips? Check. With that you're all set to make your very own Christmas ad. And here's a secret: You don't need a huge budget or fancy equipment to craft a heartwarming Christmas commercial. Watch the tutorial below to see how you can do it.
Now that we’ve gone over our best Christmas commercials, and broken down what makes them the best, we’d love to know which one was your favourite! Let us know in the comments below.
While you’re here, you definitely should check out our YouTube channel where we share daily video creation tips and tricks, the latest video trends and ideas and help you make more money as a video creator.
And if you’re looking to create more such commercials in minutes (even if you’re not a PRO), sign up for a free account on InVideo to get started.
This post was written by Kasturi and edited by Adete from Team InVideo