IM Agency

Our Top 5 Christmas Marketing Campaigns of 2018


This Christmas time has seemed to come along with a whole truckload of marketing campaigns. From controversial shop displays at M&S to the advert that took the world by storm and raised awareness of palm oil, marketers have been using Christmas as their biggest platform this year, making sure we fill the digital world with happiness, joy, awareness and festive cheer. Which was your favourite? Here are just 5 of ours.

1. Coca-Cola – Holidays Are Coming

You can’t get to the end of the year without hearing that tune. “ Holidays are coming”.

We all know it, and we all secretly (or not so secretly) love it! As soon as we see the truck’s lights and hear that jingle, we instantly know – It’s Christmas. And 2018 is no different.

This year, however, the brand stepped up their game and teamed up with ITV for an exclusive advert with 2017 X Factor winners, Rak Su, which saw the much-loved band sing their own remix over the coca-cola ‘holidays are coming’ tune offering watchers a free coke. All you had to do was ask your voice assistant “Ask to Send Me a Sample for Coke”!

Cringey, cheesy and cliche, ruining a simple ad which for many herald the start of the festive season? Or a genius way to combine new technologies, recent artists, pop culture and our favourite drink?

They also have recently released there #BeSanta campaign encouraging acts of kindness in the holiday spirit. They are ‘recruiting’ people to become Santa by ‘taking on easy-to-do missions that inspire heart-warming behaviour, infect people with optimism and fill the world with happiness’, whilst *shamelessly* plugging their worldwide famous drink. Clever.

2. John Lewis – The Boy & The Piano

How can we not put this on the list? No doubt you’ve seen this advert by now, and if you haven’t, we suggest you give it a watch. Telling the story of how Sir Elton John got his first piano and how it was ‘more than just a gift’ the ad is set to the musicians first major hit and shows the 71-year old playing the tune in his living room.

While the ad is a departure from the previous creatives in that it features a celeb. It does, however, still bear some classic John Lewis emotion. It’s not quite ‘Man on the Moon’ but it’s still up there!

This is a media first or John Lewis with their ad being shown in cinemas. The campaign didn’t stop there – alongside the ad, I John Lewis’s flagship store, London Oxford Street, shoppers were able to step into the set, interact with props, have photos taken, enjoy a light show and enjoy Elton John’s yuletide classic! The shop, alongside 14 others also opened up a Yamaha piano for customers to play.

Partner and customer director at John Lewis & Partners, Craig Inglis said:

“Think back to all of the Christmases that you have enjoyed over the years – I’m sure there is one very special gift that stands out above all others.

​”That’s the magical feeling we wanted to bring to life this year. The ad tells the story of why Elton’s piano was more than just a gift and we hope to remind customers of that special moment when they’ve given a gift at Christmas time that they know will be treasured forever.”

3. Sainsburys – The Big Night

Plug boy – he captured the hearts of the nation in the supermarket’s ad campaign and also caused a bit of a stir on social media. Either they were extremely clever in their strategy for this campaign or it blew up before their very eyes, without ever knowing it would.

There’s memes, dozens of health and safety complaints, and a new legion of fans over plug boy.

“People are ridiculous. #PlugBoy is awesome and kids need to be brought up to distinguish between what’s fiction and reality.”

We say it’s simple but effective, sweet and fun! It may also make parents a little weepy. Families all over the country can relate to this heart warming advert.

We are left with the message of ‘we give all we’ve got for the ones we love’ which is just so relatable at Christmas time. Laura oothy, Head of Broadcast Marketing at Sainsbury’s said:

“This year, we have set out to create an advert that captures the passion, emotion and excitement of the festive season, in a setting that’s familiar to us all – no matter how old we are.

“Customers tell us that what matters most to them at Christmas is spending time together with family and friends and making it truly special for them – and that’s what giving all you’ve got is about.”

The cherry on the top of the Christmas cake to go along with the ad and the controversy is that you can buy a specially created children’s star costume inspired by the ad in store. It’s a shame we can’t have our own plug boy outfit!

4 .Dove Men+Care – #HolidayShear

In the true Christmas spirit, Dove has not only upped their marketing game, but they are making use of the gift of giving back.

They are giving the gift of free washed and haircuts to men and the children in their lives to help families spend more time together during the holidays. On December 8th the brand launched #HolidayShear by taking over 22 locations of Bishops Cuts/Colour, a national chain which is known for being predominantly minority-owned.

View this post on Instagram

We had such an amazing experience getting Reeves's hair cut. #DoveMenPartner. We went into @Bishops.dupontcircle today for @dovemencare 's #holidayshear event where fathers and their kids can get free haircuts today. We were a tangled bundle of parental nerves. We love our boy's curls and weren't sure what to expect given that it's been two years since his last cut. . @bishops.dupontcircle picked up on Reeves's personality immediately and recommended a trim and shape up of his delicate curls instead of just cutting it all off. He left the chair all smiles, with less hair, and looking even more like himself. . Check out his cut and Joseph's in our story. And head over to your local Bishops for a free haircut courtesy of @dovemencare!

A post shared by One Big Happy Life (@onebighappylife) on

Tyler McElhaney, father and founder of Tynology, a men’s lifestyle blog said:

“Every holiday season my son and I are left scrambling at the last minute to make it to the barbershop,”

This year, it is so great to partner with Dove Men+Care on this incredible event. Not only am I able to cross another errand off my list, but it is great to spend quality time with my son during such a busy time.”

The brand also created activity cards to encourage bonding. These included conversation topics, drawing and playing – games included ‘Draw Dad’s Do’ and ‘What’s the Buzz’ as well as the classic tic-tac-toe and dot-to-dot.

Chief marketing officer at Bishops Cuts/Colour, Leigh Feldman said:

“This time of year is all about giving, so we are thrilled to surprise our customers through this partnership with Dove Men+Care.

We are all about celebrating our differences and understand that families come in all shapes and sizes. We’re most excited about this opportunity to make each and every customer look and feel their best with a variety of products from Dove Men+Care made for any hair type”

If you were looking for a great haircut, some quality time with your little ones and some expert advice on dove products and thought you missed out, apologies, as this was only in the US. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a brilliant campaign from Dove Men+Care.

Is there a better gift than quality time?

All participants are encouraged to share their stories with the #HolidayShear hashtag. The power of the humble hashtag!

5. Virgin Trains – It’s A Wonderful Life

If you are an avid traveller or commuter between Glasgow and London, you may have noticed some strange yellow words on the platforms. That’s because Virgin Trains have emblazoned the floors with quotes from the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.

This isn’t just to amp up Christmas spirit. In fact, it’s a mental wellness drive from the brand.

Stamped on 14 stations along the spine of the UK, these words are being used to encourage kindness. Calmness and festive warmth during hectic Christmas travels -n which we all know happens at this time of year!

Virgin have partnered with charity Rethink Mental Illness and Samaritans and was developed by The Romans (Sister shop to John Lewis), who recently released a Twitter ad featuring the real John Lewis! But why this film?

The 194 film from Frank Capra’s was the chosen for various reasons. Executive creative director of The Romans, Joe Mackay-Sinclair said:

“This is a campaign that we’re extremely proud of: a poignant idea that addresses a real, emotive, human need at Christmas, brought to life by the phenomenal logistical production required to paint 7.5km of text down 14 platforms stretching the length of the UK.”

Executive Director of people at Virgin Trains, Natasha Grice also added:

“It’s A Wonderful Life is a story of hope, redemption and kindness, which teaches us that having someone there for you when you need it the most is one of the greatest gifts you can receive. Many of our people have been personally affected by the issues raised in this campaign or know someone who has been.

This is why we wanted to get as many of our staff involved as possible, working to create a message of kindness that will touch as many of our customers as we can. We want everyone to know there’s help out there, and that if you’re not affected by poor mental health, it’s really easy to help someone who is”

And of course, there is a hashtag to alongside it. #itsawonderfulline

The team at iM would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We hope your holidays are full of laughter, joy and brilliant festive marketing.

Get in touch with our team of LinkedIn experts todayContact us