Christmas is a golden time for promoting your brand of company. All the usual public cynicism for marketing campaigns goes out the window as festivity and Christmas spirit takes over.

Chances are, you don’t have a multi-million pound budget to spend on advertising like the UK’s biggest brands, but there are still a lot of lessons we can take from their success.

From mini-blockbusters on the small screen to accidental overnight successes, here are five examples of companies who nailed their Christmas marketing campaigns this year.

John Lewis

It might seem painfully obvious to mention the John Lewis campaign, but any company who can generate this level of hype, hundreds of fawning news articles and even X-Factor conspiracy theories is doing something right.

John Lewis set the precedent for what a big Christmas advert should be and they pull it off year after year. 2016’s advert delivered a comic touch alongside the usual tearjerker moments.

So what’s good about it? The advert’s star (Buster the Boxer) captures our imagination in a way that departs from their usual adverts, which are overloaded with emotion. A dog bouncing on a trampoline suspends our disbelief just enough, but still falls into that ‘Christmas miracle’ territory – a well-trodden path in Christmas campaigns.

This is the direct result of a lot of funding. Reportedly costing £1million to make, John Lewis also spent a further £6million on TV slots. While you don’t have to be anywhere near as extreme, Buster the Boxer is proof that pushing the boat out on your Christmas marketing campaign can produce big results.

The marketing message: Don’t be afraid to take risks.


Retail giants M&S admitted that last year’s campaign was a bit detached from what their customers wanted, but this year they sat up and took note. Their Mrs Claus campaign delivers emotion by the sleigh-load and really helped to make Christmas special.

But it’s not just the advert. An army of Mrs Clauses’ turned up in stores to give out random acts of kindness to 15,000 customers. Proving Christmas really is the season of giving, the retailer also donated £5 to charity for every generous act their Mrs Clauses’ performed.

There was a social media bombardment: a #lovemrsclaus hashtag with the character taking over their accounts and a special emoji to go alongside the campaign. If you want a marketing strategy that had it all, look no further than M&S.

The marketing message: Listen to what your customers want and launch your campaign over multiple platforms.


In the year of Brexit, Donald Trump and people feeling more isolated than ever – this was the Christmas advert we all needed.

Polish auction website Allegro’s Christmas marketing campaign wasn’t even aimed at a British audience, and it certainly didn’t appear on our prime time television. But that didn’t stop people claiming it had wiped the floor with John Lewis’ offering, and for a good reason.

The advert depicts a Polish grandfather learning English in preparation for meeting his trip to the UK. While the emotional blackmail to buy presents can feel a little forced from brands at Christmas time, this advert manages to retain 100% of its integrity.

What’s more, they did it without the big budget. The YouTube upload stacked up more than 10million in a matter of weeks, making it a true accidental overnight success story.

You might not be shopping on Allegro any time soon, but you certainly won’t forget their triumphant Christmas advert.

The marketing message: Stay true to your brand and keep the campaign authentic


Dare we say it? Waitrose might have actually beaten John Lewis for the best animal ad this year. While the special effects of Buster the Boxer might seem a little fake, the CGI here is nothing short of incredible.

We follow the epic journey of a robin on a quest through tests and turmoil to return home. Admittedly the rail strikes aren’t quite that bad, but it’s something we can all relate to.

Here’s what makes it extra special: Waitrose released a children’s book to go alongside the ad, putting the latest in digital technology alongside the old-fashioned.

The marketing message: Mix the traditional with the new


Burberry were always going to pull out all the stops for their 160th anniversary, but we didn’t expect it to take the form of a fantastic Christmas campaign.

We journey back in time to the company’s beginnings, with enough glitz in this ad to rival any Hollywood blockbuster. It might not be the most blatant Christmas advert, and there certainly isn’t a Santa in sight – but that’s part of what makes it great.

So why does this feel right? With The Queen, Poldark and War and Peace dominating our screens, 2016 has truly been the year of the costume drama. Burberry have taken this and turned it up to full volume for their Christmas campaign.

The marketing message: Latch onto current trends