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15 most viewed Christmas adverts of all time

Written by Raza Kazi

28 | 11 | 19

Digital Marketing  |  
15 minute read

Bah, humbug.

It’s almost that time of year again where businesses release their yearly Christmas adverts and the public eats them up. Whether it’s John Lewis, Sainsbury’s or M&S, they all love to tug on the ol’ heartstrings during the festive season. Christmas should never be about bragging rights...but deep down, we all want to know which marketing campaigns are the most successful.

Eberaza Scrooge

Well, gather round because Eberaza Scrooge is going to run through the 15 most viewed Christmas adverts of all time to get you prepared for what 2019 has in store.

*Videos and stats updated on 11/11/19

Just a few side notes before you dive in. We’ve created our list based on YouTube statistics as there are over a billion users on this platform and, on average, people are watching 40 minutes of online videos from their mobile. Also, John Lewis has almost ruined Christmas already by making some of their adverts private, but we’ve still got their stats from previous years available.

The adverts of Christmas past…

#15: Sainsbury’s - The Big Night 2018

 

6,348,813 views

Starring an eight-year-old giving the performance of her life for her mum, Sainsbury’s 2018 Christmas advert featured a variety of festive staples. The North Star, turkey drummer (less Bernard Matthews and more child dressed up playing an instrument), trees and gravy boats all featured as Sainsbury’s worked with 60 kids aged 6-11 (and their real parents) to make them the stars of the show.

#14: John Lewis - The Journey 2012

 

6,629,102 views

Also utilising festive staples, John Lewis showcased a snowman going on an adventure to get the perfect gift for his loved one. It’s a really good example of showing the power of love by having one courageous snowman braving the busy Christmas streets and weather to ‘give a little more.’

Hideous. 

#13: M&S - Paddington & The Christmas Visitor 2017

 

6,965,720 views

M&S captured the tale of the true Christmas spirit by utilising a British icon - Paddington Bear. Woken up by a special visitor, Paddington stayed up all night and took it upon himself to deliver the presents with Santa in time for the big day.

To really highlight the message of giving back, nothing will bring a tear to your eye more than this fluffy creature handing over one of his favourite Marmite sandwiches.

#12: Littlewoods - Own the Show 2018

 

7,469,487 views

Away from the animated character and emotional aspects and storytelling, Littlewoods did things a little different.

Firstly, the music was more upbeat with the inclusion of Panic! At the Disco and there’s a clear focus on the products - not something many other Christmas adverts do. The aim is to highlight the variety of products they sell and how the viewers can ‘own the show’ by purchasing them.

#11: John Lewis - The Long Wait 2011

 

7,963,632 views

2011 marked the beginning of John Lewis’ anticipated Christmas adverts, so The Long Wait was always going to feature. The story revolves a young boy who looks increasingly impatient as he waits for the 25th to arrive. But it’s not for his own gifts - he can’t wait to give his present to his parents. You’d never catch Tiny Tim doing that.

Although the original is not on YouTube anymore, people still love this classic.

#10: Very.co.uk - Get More Out of Giving 2017

 

8,245,013 views

Very’s popular advert sees the story of a big-hearted little girl spreading the festive cheer by giving pink-wrapped gifts accompanied by her Ulfie, her much-loved toy wolf. While handing out presents and ticking names off her list, she loses rag-eared Ulfie along the way.

This emotional rollercoaster also sees a wolf help her on her perilous journey until the gift and the wolf are lost over an icy waterfall. In the end, she wakes up on Christmas Day, finding a mysterious pink gift box, opening it to find Ulfie with his rag ear sewn up and the final name magically crossed off - Santa.

#9: M&S - Christmas With Love from Mrs Claus 2016

 

9,254,318 views

Marks and Spencer’s put a modern twist on the much-loved tale of Santa delivering presents ahead of Christmas. This time, the focus is on the glamorous Mrs Claus who reads a letter from a young boy who wants to gift her sister a new pair of trainers.

Mrs Claus then gets herself into a chopper to deliver the present which does a great job of showing the true, close bond between siblings.

#8: John Lewis - #EltonJohnLewis 2018

 

13,993,683 views

In 2018, John Lewis put the focus on the power of gift and how that gift inspired, changed and influenced the course of a little boy’s life. The story begins in present-day and works backwards chronologically through the boy’s life until the moment of Christmas morning when he received the gift that changed his life.

He just so happened to be Elton John.

#7: Sainsbury’s - The Greatest Gift 2016

 

19,194,769 views

This joyous Christmas musical was created in stop-frame animation and featured vocals from James Corden.

It tells the story of Dave, a hard-working and devoted man who is caught up in the Christmas whirlwind and faces a battle against time to make it home. He faces plenty of calamities and duties which get in his way as he realised the greatest gift he can give people is his time.

#6: Sainsbury’s - Christmas Is for Sharing 2014

 

21,159,991 views

Sainsbury’s 2014 advert took us back one hundred years and revisited the battlefield in World War One.

The message conveyed that Christmas was all about sharing and commemorated the extraordinary events of Christmas Day in 1914 when the guns fell silent. Both armies met in no-man’s land where they shared gifts, chocolate and even played football.

#5: John Lewis - #BusterTheBoxer 2016

 

25,785,749 views

In this reuploaded video, the advert revolves around the main character, Buster the Boxer. John Lewis’ slogan, ‘Gifts that everyone will love,’ fits perfect in this story of the family dog loving the trampoline that was initially intended for the young daughter.

The brand perfectly utilised humour while maintaining the emotional aspect.

#4: John Lewis - #MontyThePenguin 2014

 

27,840,527 views

Another legendary advert from John Lewis in 2014 allowed us to connect with our inner child. We see through the eyes of a boy as all he wants to do is make his toy penguin, Monty, happy this Christmas. It’s really heartfelt and this cute story can make any ice heart melt. Yes, even mine.

#3: John Lewis - #ManOnTheMoon 2015 

 

28,817,598 views

Another beautiful and powerful sentiment from John Lewis in 2015 saw ‘#ManOnTheMoon’ do the rounds on social media. It’s such a simple yet effective story. It shows that even if a person is half the world away (or sitting patiently on the moon), you can still show them you’re thinking about them this Christmas.

God bless us, everyone!

#2: John Lewis - Somewhere Only We Know 2013

 

38,557,468 views

Although it’s now only available on Lily Allen’s YouTube channel, this tear-jerker really hits you in the feels with a creative and emotional story. Using computer animation and traditional hand drawing, the ad features a bear who misses Christmas each year due to hibernation.

So, his friend, the hare, has an idea by making sure the bear has a Christmas to remember.

#1: Sainsbury’s - Mog’s Christmas Calamity 2015

 

39,809,401 views

Creeping towards the 40 million mark is the most-viewed Christmas advert of all time, Mog’s Christmas Calamity from Sainsbury’s. Using a much-loved children’s character as the main protagonist, Mog is the victim of some unfortunate events that almost sees Christmas ruined for the family.

That’s where Sainsbury’s popular message comes in - Christmas is for sharing. Why does this sound so familiar? His antics result in families coming together over Christmas and the emotional storyline engages and really hits home the true meaning of Christmas.

The adverts of Christmas present…

Now that we’re in November, brands have slowly started to release their entries in the hope that they steal Christmas this year. Expect to see a lot of emotional storytelling, humour, and excited children spreading the Christmas cheer. 

It looks like brands such as Asda, M&S, Boots and others have released theirs ahead of time, especially with the focus on both John Lewis and Sainsbury’s to see which one will pull it out of the bag this year.

Here’s a selection of some of the latest Christmas adverts released already for 2019. You never know which might pop up on the list of most-viewed Christmas adverts soon.

John Lewis

Asda

M&S

 

Boots

 

Argos

 

Iceland

 

Barbour

 

Very.co.uk


The adverts of Christmas future…

By now you should have noticed some of the common themes from the 15 most-viewed Christmas adverts of all time, and the ones released this year. So, why do they do so well? An obvious feature is the sentimental storylines as they prove to be really engaging and hook viewers in - making that brand more memorable.

If an advert emotionally engages with a viewer, it’s likely that they’ll tell someone else about it and encourage them to watch, which contributes to the millions of views. Another common feature is the use of hashtags, especially in the case of John Lewis.

This is a really smart method of marketing as it encourages viewers to get involved on social media. This gets others immersed in the discussion, they’ll also use the hashtag and this cycle helps brands dominate Christmas.

The tone of voice is also crucial and something which helps keeps brands within their guidelines and make them seem more human. Although they’re all retailers and businesses, the brands we’ve mentioned are now storytellers, entertainers and have people counting down the days until the annual Christmas advert is released.

Expect more of this in the future. Animations, humour, emotional storytelling, animals, young children, families, older people and pop culture references. Using a combination of these is what keeps viewers engaged and this proven recipe has already worked wonders, so it’ll continue to do so in the future.

And it’s easy to see why businesses have done this. Just look at how much emotion and storytelling is involved in these video adverts. Can they achieve the same results on a billboard, leaflet or a regular advert? Probably not. You can’t ignore the importance of video and it’s the type of content the majority now prefer.

To find out more about utilising video in your marketing strategy, how to get started and how to execute killer video campaigns all year round, make sure to grab your inbound video guide.

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BLOG UPDATED: November 2019