As UK Christmas TV ad spending is projected to fall by as much as £44m this quarter, Claire Baldwin looks at the latest campaigns to separate the Christmas turkeys from the golden goose.

UK TV ad spending is projected to fall by as much as £44m this Christmas, with companies rerouting that money to more modern methods instead. Facebook, Google and YouTube are set to be the focus this year as retailers try to compete with online competition.

Despite this, we were still treated to the usual weird and wonderful Christmas ads that we all look forward to. Let’s take a look at some of the more noteworthy offerings this year.

John Lewis

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated Christmas ad in the UK, the department store has taken a different approach this year. Gone are the cute and whimsical characters, with the advert instead revolving around singer Elton John.

We see the singer’s career in reverse, from huge stadium shows to his beginnings as a musician, all the way back to a piano recital at school. The end shows a young Elton John unwrapping a piano on Christmas morning. The line pops up: “Some gifts are more than just a gift.”

Rather than focus on consumerism and excess, the advert hints towards meaningful gestures that change futures and shape lives.

Festive feeling: 2/5

Warm and fuzzy factor: 3/5

Message: 4/5


The advert has been banned for being “too political” due to its focus on the environmental impact of palm oil. This is surprising for a supermarket that has never been known to have any kind of political view, but less surprising when you learn that the advert was originally created by Greenpeace.

The animated ad features a girl who has found an orangutan in her room, and is poetically narrated by British actress Emma Thompson. This poem turns from charming storybook to an eye-opening look at deforestation and habitat loss caused by palm oil production.

The advert concludes with Iceland’s promise to remove all palm oil from its own-label products “until all palm oil causes zero rainforest destruction”.

While the message is important, some people felt that hijacking the Christmas advert season to make a political point isn’t particularly festive. It’s definitely grabbed media attention, though.

 Festive feeling: 1/5

Warm and fuzzy factor: 1/5

Message: 4/5


The luxury fashion brand is known for its decadent adverts packed with famous faces, and this year is no different. 2018’s ad features Kristin Scott Thomas, Matt Smith, M.I.A, Naomi Campbell and her mother, Valerie.

Accompanied by the somewhat haunting ‘Carol of the Bells’, this characteristically beige advert was shot by British artist and photographer Juno Calypso. It is intended to capture “a more realistic British Christmas” taking the viewer through “all the key seasonal rituals, both good and bad.”

It’s a very stylish Christmas advert with a strong focus on the brand’s clothing and accessories, but it doesn’t really bring a sense of holiday joy. If anything, it might leave you dreading that traditional family dinner!

Festive feeling: 2/5

Warm and fuzzy factor: 2/5

Message: 2/5

Sky Cinema

TV giants Sky have put family movie night at the heart of their Christmas ad. With voiceover by Patrick Stewart, the advert opens on a large apartment building with its windows numbered like an advent calendar. We visit the various homes and see a glimpse of their Christmas decorations and festive movie choices.

It ends with the line “Movie magic on demand this Christmas” and promotes a lovely message of spending time with family and loved ones. While it may have been nice for all of the movies to be traditional Christmas movies, Sky obviously needs to advertise the availability of recent blockbusters as well. This does make the concept feel less festive, though.

Festive feeling: 4/5

Warm and fuzzy factor: 3/5

Message: 3/5

What’s your message?

Whether you’re sharing a Christmas message or simply marketing your brand, creative thinking is essential to get you noticed and remembered.

DWH Design can help you to turn your products and services into unique content that converts. To find out more about our copywriting services and content generation, get in touch, and take a look at our case studies to find out what we’re capable of.