This week, we look at which Christmas ads of 2021 make it on our nice list and which ones merrily missed the mark. But these aren't the only lists we're checking twice this December, as we wrap up the edition with a look back on Google's top searches of 2021.

Cracking Christmas ads

CX Lavender creatives unwrap the ads that brought them joy this year.

Paris Robinson-Hicks, Peter Bidenko, Jon Darren, George Organ, Alan Nowak, Russell Nelson, Alice Heraud

CX Lavender

Brand Expression

4 minute read

Have our attitudes towards Christmas changed as a result of the pandemic? Is spending time with loved ones more important than giving?

Whether you love Christmas or hate it, there’s no denying that our biggest retailers kept the sentimental magic of Christmas alive in their ads this year when we all needed it most.

Here’s what some of our creatives had to say about their top picks.
PENNY’s ‘Der Wunsch’
A mother’s intensely real response to what she wants this year.

Best quality:

Unexpected yet incredibly relevant.

 

Why it sleighs:

  • Beautifully made in every way: writing, directing, acting, cinematography, editing, sound and music. Even the effects are seamless. The pace and the mood are sublime.
  • Not one Christmas cliché.
  • The lead piece in a much larger campaign to ‘give the audience their youth back’ – encompassing 5,000 experiences, including traineeships and accommodation, trips and festival tickets.
  • A brave strategy that would have totally resonated with the intended audience.

 

Post-COVID Christmas feels:

How can you not feel for teenagers who were, say, 15 when lockdown started and are now 17. Significant years lost. Perfectly captured in this long form ‘ad’.

 

Peter Bidenko

Apple’s ‘Saving Simon’
A child’s refusal to let the holiday season melt away.

Best quality:

Seamless product sell.

 

Why it sleighs:

  • A beautiful story of what it means to be a kid at Christmas – the pinnacle of all holidays in their eyes.
  • Taps into the Apple audience’s trait of being forever curious.
  • Turns typical family moments into a much more real-feeling story.
  • Family scenes are shot and composed incredibly well.
  • Delivers a twist on the happy ending.

 

Post-COVID Christmas feels:

Apple always seem to simplify big emotions into clever and charming stories. They have done it again, using a classic snowman to represent our longing to be back together with loved ones… inseparably so.

 

Jon Darren

John Lewis’ ‘Unexpected Guest’
Think Stranger Things as a Christmas ad.

Best quality:

Incredible craft (thanks, budget).

 

Why it sleighs:

  • Beautiful storytelling.
  • Ticks off all those clichéd but audience-craved Christmas moments (putting up the tree, family dinner, Christmas lights) but in a way that lets you see them for the first time all over again.
  • A perfectly chosen cover song (bit of an old trend, but still works).

 

Post-COVID Christmas feels:

In a world where overseas family and friends may as well be living on another planet thanks to border closures and travel restrictions, this proved that there’s still plenty of magic left in Christmas.

 

George Organ

Woolworths’ ‘Today’s Fresh Food People’
A rhyming narrative where ham is central.

Best quality:

The number of products stuffed into 30 seconds.

 

Why it sleighs:

  • It does an excellent job of pushing the brand – green is everywhere.
  • It addresses diversity and the demographic well with a mix of ages, ethnicities and orientations.

 

Why it’s a nay:

  • Post-production feels rushed, and the ad is a little hectic to watch.
  • It doesn’t include a nod to click-and-collect or the mammoth efforts of their delivery team this year. A missed opportunity.

 

Post-COVID Christmas feels:

This ad left me feeling underwhelmed. The emotion conveyed by it feels like it hasn’t changed at all since pre-COVID. And I would have hoped Woolworths would take a less chaotic approach after the year it’s been.

 

Alan Nowak

AusPost’s ‘Spread the Merry’
Think Qantas’ 1998 classic ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ but instead of Peter Allen it's Hall & Oats, and instead of school children it’s letterboxes.

Best quality:

Personified letterboxes mean less people to stare at.

 

Why it sleighs:

  • I came for the PO BOX choir but stayed for the homemade Big Mouth Billy Bass.
  • Loads of personality without showing any (many) people.
  • There are few brands that can claim to reach all corners of this continent (nbn or Telstra maybe?), and show the breadth of the country without falling into any tired clichés. The distinct lack of Bondi lifesavers is no mean feat.
  • Strong 500 days of summer vibes.

 

Post-COVID Christmas feels:

This is an entertaining piece of content that brings merriment joy in a time where we all need it. But will my Big Mouth Billy Bass be delivered in time for Christmas?

 

Russell Nelson

Aldi’s ‘You Can’t Overcook Christmas’
Absolutely no one:
Aldi: Let’s bring back Darude’s Sandstorm this Christmas.

Best quality:

That quirky Aldi humour.

 

Why it sleighs:

  • There is something about seeing a turkey so viscerally stuffed on TV that makes it impossible to turn away. And to that beat drop? I’m entranced.
  • It heroes the (kitchen-related) debauchery and the reckless abandon we’ve all been craving in a way that takes the pressure off not only our holiday cooking.
  • The life-size prawn busting moves on the df. My only gripe with the ad is that the prawn didn’t come with a backstory. What’s its purpose? Why wasn’t it featured more? And where the hell do I get myself a matching prawn costume?

 

Post-COVID Christmas feels:

We all desperately need more of those sheer delight moments. While I doubt my nan will be telepathically shooting flames at our Christmas pud, Aldi has reminded us not to take Christmas too seriously. Have fun, and wave your prawn skewers in the air, like you just don’t care.

 

Alice Heraud

The recipe for the perfect Christmas ad
While there’s more than one way to glaze a ham, these key takeaways defined both customers’ and our Creative team’s response to Christmas advertising this year:
  • Emotionally-engaging ads were favoured across the board and generated more empathy compared to previous years.
  • The joy of sharing was an overarching and powerful theme.
  • Consumers tended to feel a disconnect with brands that didn’t touch on the pandemic.

on Holiday Spending
Whether it’s making up for lost time by splurging on loved ones, or a lasting affair with lockdown ordering, Aussies are set to spend $6.6billion more this festive season compared with last year. But, post-pandemic, it’s not just about presents, with Millennials tipped to spend most on eating, drinking and making merry!
At the top of our search lists in 2021

If knowing your customer is the key to good CX, then Google is our locksmith. It seems that the chaos and change of 2021 has borne a majority of people using the change of pace to become entrepreneurs, activists, spiritualists and yearners. These people are curious, problem solvers striving to become more in touch with themselves and the world around them to carve out a space where they can regain some control.

From ‘affirmations’ to ‘how to move with plants’, these were some of the most Googled terms of the year. If you ever wanted a window into our collective human soul, search no further.


Written by Paris Robinson-Hicks, Peter Bidenko, Jon Darren, George Organ, Alan Nowak, Russell Nelson, Alice Heraud, Edited by Tash Velkova, 52 Words by Jess Nord, Freeform by Tash Velkova & Jaimii Jakab, Key Visual by Chelsea Abbott, page built by Kate Pendergast & Jess Nord


Thanks for the support in 2021!

52 Mondays will be back next year with even more expert insights from the most curious minds in the business. Catch our first edition of 2022 on January 10th.

Happy holidays, from the 52 Mondays team.

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