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Our Favorite Christmas Ads 2016

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the season to be jolly, time to decorate the Christmas tree, exchange gifts, and watch the annual John Lewis Christmas advert. Yes, what has started as a publicity stunt back in 2007 for the British department store has grown into an annual tradition signalling that the countdown to Christmas has begun in the UK. But the practice of creating stunning Christmas ads is now also embraced by other brands and countries.


Christmas ads are more like short films. They convey positive messages and promote traditional Christmas values through emotionally-charged storylines. And the creatives who make them enjoy more freedom and substantial budgets to bring their visions to life. For example, last year’s John Lewis campaign Man on The Moon had, according to Telegraph UK, a shooting budget of no less than £1m. This year, there are more Christmas ads than ever, with famous film directors and actors getting involved. All of them heart-warming, all of them showcasing exquisite techniques and impeccable construction. Here is my top 5.

1. Come Together
, dir Wes Anderson

When six times Oscar-nominated director Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) takes time off to direct a commercial for H&M, you know you’re up for something special. When that ad happens to be filled with seasonal joy and touching messages, you can expect a real treat. Add Adrien Brody to the mix and here comes greatness!


2. Christmas with love from Mrs Claus, dir. Tom Hooper

Forget Santa… Mrs Claus is the super hero! With an incredible collection of Christmas outfits, the latest technologies and even a helicopter, it’s up for her to deliver the last minute gifts, save the day and surprise even traditionalist Mr. Claus in the process. Janet McTeer’s ‘Mrs. Claus’ can proudly stand next to any Batman or James Bond. It might just be that we are not yet done hearing from this lovely lady created by Tom Hooper (The Danish Girl, The King’s Speech).


3. The Greatest Gift, dir. Sam Fell

Great inspirational message, an adorable stop motion animation filled with super cute characters, and some funny and witty lyrics on top. What more could do you want from a Christmas advert? Not much more, and director Sam Fell from Passion Pictures brings it. Yet, the always resourceful marketing peeps from Sainsbury thought you might just want to put your own spin on things. Enter: The Story Studio app – a DIY stop motion kit allowing you to make your own animation. For tips and tricks there’s even a ‘making of’ available.


4. Frankie’s Holiday, dir. Lance Acord

Tale as old as time, seen hundreds of times. Yet, there’s something irresistible to Mr. Frankie(stein)‘s story. We relate to the pursued protagonist, we feel his sorrow and we cheer at the (predictable) end. Brilliant work for Apple created by Lance Acord from Park Pictures, reminding us that Christmas is not so much about inventing new things, but more about finding new ways to enjoy very well known narratives and traditions.


5. Buster The Boxer, dir. Dougal Wilson

The John Lewis ad is back in the hands of Dougal Wilson – the man who, in 2011, really took these adverts to another level with Shadows, prompting him to become THE John Lewis Christmas ad director (with the exception of 2013 and 2015). However, it was a tough year for the John Lewis ad. The commercial’s launch first suffered from bad timing. Released shortly after the US elections, many read the ad as a metaphor for the surprising outcome. Lots of parodies followed. Then, the internet fell in love with a touchingly sentimental Polish ad. A moving story about a grandpa and his efforts to learn English in order to communicate with his granddaughter. Some critics called the John Lewis ad ‘out-Christmased’. But it wasn’t. Not really. Buster had its own hashtag, a plush toy, a soundtrack, and a 360-degree app. Add to that the short fan video made by the main character of Aldi’s Christmas ad, the John Lewis ad remains the ad to beat.


By @ricutza

Former editor and now guest editor Maria Dicieanu is our right honorable movie geek. She is the living manifestation of a multimedia app and loves trawling the world wide web for the finest music videos, likes to get her digital mitts dirty with conversions, uploads and video edits for Submarine Channel, and also flirts with transmedia-related journalism, reporting from festivals like Cannes, Berlinale and IDFA for European Cinema collective NISI MASA and Submarine Channel.



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