Essential ingredients to make a great Christmas ad (and avoid a turkey)

Costanza Scarpa | 15 December 2013

Christmas is here once again, but this year we’ve gained some new insights! 

Amidst the furore of the release of John Lewis’ latest, ‘The Bear and the Hare’, we tested fourteen of the most popular Christmas ads of 2013 in an attempt to pin-point what exactly appealed to our festive spirit, and which brand did it best.

The results of this all-important enquiry were published in the Drum. It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the English public are partial to a strong storyline, a good laugh, and a touch of the familiar in their Christmas advertising. Successful ads all featured three elements: a sturdy narrative structure; a significant dose of humour; and cultural resonance, whether in the form of a famous carol or a celebrity face.

Three essentials:

  • Robust narrative
  • Good humour
  • Cultural resonance

Ads which lacked these elements didn’t do so well – as did those featuring rational messages or a weak plot (or indeed no plot at all).


Harvey Nichols successfully nailed the winning combination with ‘Sorry I Spent it on Myself’, the uncontested front-runner. John Lewis’ offering on the other hand, did rather less well in our rankings, despite a huge reaction on social media on its first outing. It certainly didn’t bomb like the Co-op’s offering though.

Read the full Drum article.

Register to see all the ads and their performance in detail here