Our Favorite Christmas Commercials 2018
As soon as the calendar reads November 1st, companies everywhere start releasing their holiday commercials.
Whether they’re selling a product or selling their business, they want you thinking about buying gifts before you even finish your last piece of Halloween candy. It’s no surprise that companies start advertising so early – a recent study by Animoto says video was the #1 way consumers discovered a brand or product before purchasing. Whether they see that video on social media, while using a streaming service or on regular network TV, there’s no doubt holiday commercials are effective.
Some people hate that the season starts so early, but at Holbrook, we love it – especially the commercials. Here’s a list of some of our favorites from this year, in no particular order.
Peloton Indoor Exercise Bike
The first of the two-ad series aired on Hulu November 1st. In the first commercial, we see a husband buy his wife a Peloton Exercise Bike and hide it out in their shed. In the days leading up to Christmas, he sneaks out to the shed when she’s distracted to use the bike himself, putting the gift tag back on when he’s finished. When Christmas comes, the bike looks brand new and unused – and the wife is ecstatic. It’s just what she wanted!
Unfortunately, this ad doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the internet available for streaming, but you get the idea.
However, the first ad alone isn’t what tickled our fancy about this campaign – the second ad is what made the series so great. Aired in the days following the first commercial, we see the wife find her Peloton Indoor Exercise Bike hidden in the shed. Just as her husband, she uses the bike every day when he’s not around, replacing the gift tag with her name on it each time she finishes a workout. When Christmas comes, we’re shown the same scene from the first commercial – except this time when the wife acts completely surprised, she smirks to herself knowingly.
We find this campaign to be one of the best of the season because of the different perspectives we see as an audience. The ads being aired separately injects a level of mystery and comedy that just wouldn’t be achieved if they were merged into one. Not only are the ads unique in their storytelling, but they emit a sense of mischief and fun involved in buying (and hiding) gifts from family members during the holidays.
While this ad never aired in the U.S., we caught wind of it through its social media popularity. It advertises U.K. McDonald’s holiday-exclusive “Reindeer Treats”, which are actually just nutritious carrot sticks.
The commercial features Santa stopping at several different houses, cookies and other sweet treats waiting for him in every living room he encounters. Unfortunately, none of the families leave anything for Santa’s poor reindeer. With each new house, Santa and all of the reindeer get more and more disheartened by the lack of treats (and thought!) for the magical creatures.
Santa’s had enough at the last house we’re shown – luckily, he has a bright idea when he sees the familiar golden arches of McDonald’s shining next door. He emerges from the chimney, little packets of carrots in hand for all of his furry friends.
As animal lovers, this one particularly tugged at our hearts. McDonald’s had the right idea – no doubt there are tons of kids begging their parents for Reindeer Treats in the drive-thru after seeing Santa’s animal transport so neglected. Of course, the kids may not actually be encouraged to eat the carrots, but McDonald’s still earned their customers’ dollars, right?
John Lewis & Partners
This commercial stands out from many others not just for its subject – Sir Elton John – but for its message. That’s a big surprise coming from a high-end chain store like John Lewis & Partners. It’s beautifully shot, and brought tears to our eyes just from the air of sentimentality it projects. Its message – that some gifts are more than just gifts – couldn’t have been better envisioned than it was in this piece.
At the start, Elton John is playing a grand piano in what appears to be his sitting room. Going back in time, we see five different Christmases during the famous musician’s life, each centered around him playing the piano. You see his growth through the years, and the way he’s nurtured and honed his musical talent. The last Christmas shown in the commercial is one of Sir Elton John’s first – and he was gifted that grand piano from his mother.
The screen reads, “Some gifts are more than just a gift” as a current Elton John thinks back on that first piano. In this case, the gift was more than just the piano itself, but the opportunity to develop a talent that would change his life – and the world of music.
Even the lyrics to Elton John’s song tell the story: “My gift is my song.”
Portal from Facebook
Facebook launched its first piece of tech hardware in early November. Facebook Portal is essentially a camera phone connected to your Facebook account, with high quality video and a screen larger than that of the latest iPad. Considering Facebook’s dubious history with user privacy, we may not be comfortable with the social media giant having access to a camera and microphone that never turns off in our homes. However, we did enjoy one of their holiday commercials advertising their new piece of tech.
In this commercial, we see an older couple decked out in Christmas sweaters calling their daughter on the Facebook Portal as she prepares Christmas dinner for her family.
When she catches sight of their Christmas sweaters – well, if you haven’t seen it, you should watch first.
She asks, “Aw, are you guys having an ugly sweater party?”
Awkward pause until she realizes her mistake.
The parents start cracking jokes about her messy kitchen, and all is well.
The commercial is funny, short, sweet, and in typical Facebook fashion, never directly sells you their product – just shows families having a fun interaction using their device.
After all, Facebook has always claimed that their intent was to bring people together. That’s exactly what they portrayed in this commercial.
Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller
Another great holiday commercial was for the Xbox Adaptive Controller. Even without the commercial, the controller is an amazing piece of technology that no other video game console has attempted to date. The controller is “designed primarily to meet the needs of people with limited mobility” and to help make gaming more accessible for people with disabilities. Microsoft has taken a huge step towards inclusion in the gaming community.
The commercial, titled “Reindeer Games”, is great in part because it builds up to the product itself. The first moments in the ad see kids running from their homes out into the snow, all shouting, “He’s gonna do it!” and “Owen’s gonna do it!” The suspense builds as we wonder who Owen is and what he’s about to do.
If you don’t have time to watch the commercial, scroll beneath the video to get a quick synopsis – but if you’ve got a minute, we recommend watching it.
We enter the house where all of the children are gathering, and we see Owen: a nine-year old boy with a genetic disorder called Escobar Syndrome. He’s about to reach a high score on his video game using his Xbox Adaptive Controller. The kids all cheer with Owen as he reaches his milestone.
The ad’s tagline puts the cherry on top: “When everybody plays, we all win.”
The ad and its tagline, paired with this amazing technology created by Microsoft, easily makes this one of our favorite Christmas commercials this year, and possibly ever.
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