Public Relations


UK brands do battle for Christmas advert top spot

December 2023

Reading time: 4 minute(s).

While we’re still a few weeks away from decorating the office (and dog) ready for the festive period here at Strand HQ, we thought we’d get into the Christmas spirit by breaking down this year’s top adverts from the UK’s biggest brands.

As the last candle fizzed out in the pumpkin that was this year’s Halloween adverts, we were given our annual premature warning that the “holidays are coming, holidays are coming” as the big names rolled out their Christmas campaigns.

But, who has done it best this Christmas?

If you’re bored of arguing whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not, JD Sports’ festive campaign is ready to enter the conversation.

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#1 John Lewis

John Lewis’ mission to make millions cry each year in between instalments of D-list celebrities gobbling kangaroo eyes and crocodile anuses continues this year. Once again, the British retailer has gone all out to achieve their goal. With the tingle-inducing voice of classical music icon Andrea Bocelli providing the rousing soundtrack to this year’s advert, it’s clear from the start that John Lewis is definitely going to have your mum crying each and every time she sees it this Christmas.

The message is to ‘Let Your Traditions Grow’, telling the story of Snapper the Venus Flytrap who, through a series of events, replaces the traditional Christmas tree in Teddy and his family’s home.

There’s a reason John Lewis is the heavyweight champion of the Christmas advert, and this year is no different.

#2 JD Sports

If you’re bored of arguing whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not, JD Sports’ festive campaign is ready to enter the conversation. The sports retailer has opted against the traditional Christmas theme, instead going for a celebration of UK youth culture. This advert blends dynamic camera work, a great soundtrack, a message of family, and an alternative look at how people in Britain celebrate the festive season.

Directed by Amara Abbas, the campaign features some of UK music and entertainment’s biggest names, including Kano, Central Cee, Nia Archives and your nan’s favourite, Joy Crookes, all using their JD Sports bag for a lot more than just carrying purchases from the store. The main message might not be a uniquely Christmas one, but this definitely ranks as one of the festive period’s most impactful ads.


Marks and Spencer

Marks & Spencer have gone for star power with their 2023 offering, featuring Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham, The Marvels star Zawe Ashton, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Queer Eye’s Tan France…although the average M&S customer will probably struggle to put a name to any of the four famous faces.

The advert combines its celebrity cast with Ray BLK’s cover of Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), which is at least a song your parents will recognise if the actors fail to trigger anything. Similar to a number of retailers this Christmas, Marks and Spencer’s message is one of embracing your own traditions this festive season.


He’s back! Another Aldi Christmas advert, another starring performance from Kevin the Carrot. This year, Kevin is exploring William Conker’s Magical Christmas Factory, inspired by, you guessed it, Willy Wonka. The fun festive advert sees five lucky ticket winners enter the factory, where the pumpty-dumpties have laid on a festive celebration.


Second only to Santa Claus as Christmas’ busiest man, Micheal Buble stars in this year’s festive campaign for Asda. If having the Buble on board wasn’t enough, the supermarket also secured Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi to direct the commercial.

Buble acts as Asda’s chief quality control officer, working his way around the supermarket sampling their season selection in this light-hearted ad, with the singer giving us what we want by belting out the final crescendo of Walking in a Winter Wonderland to close the commercial.


Charlie's Bar

The undisputed winner of biggest surprise hit this Christmas is Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, whose advert has become a massive viral hit and put the small pub well and truly on the festive map. The advert features an elderly man walking alone after placing flowers on a grave. Having been ignored by several people, he is quickly joined by a couple and their dog for a drink when he arrives at the pub.

The advert, which cost landlady Una Burns £700 to put together, has attracted comments and shares on X, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, with retail giant John Lewis even commenting on the video, posting “We’re not crying, you are”.

Heavy praise indeed from the reigning Christmas advert champions.

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December 2023 | Adam Mclaughlan