What makes Christmas Advertising Effective?

It’s that festive time of the year again and all of us here at BrandRefinery are getting ready for the holidays

But before we head out for Christmas, we thought it would be good to take a look at what makes Christmas advertising effective.

Many companies have adverts every year based around Christmas time. While some companies make these ads because they are getting into the holiday spirit themselves, others use Christmas as an opportunity to remind the world of their presence. In fact, statistics show that the average house spends £500 more in December than any other month.


Nostalgia is used to great effect as it allows companies to connect to an audience on a relatable level. By using aspects from people’s pasts, a company can more easily connect to their present.

Reminding an audience of emotions experienced in their past can make them look more fondly on them as a brand. This is because these positive emotions are now tied to the brand itself.

In 2017, IRN-BRU released a Christmas advert based on the 1978 animated film The Snowman. This iconic film is associated with the classic Christmas song ‘Walking in the Air’. Through these associations IRN-BRU can make subtle connotations for when people hear the song or think of the film which will lead them to their brand.

Given how powerful this tactic can be, IRN-BRU made a follow-up advert for 2018, again based on The Snowman film.

[Source: YouTube]


Christmas has many meanings to many people. For some, Christmas is about friends and family, whereas to others, it is about the act of giving and selflessness.

By using these themes in their adverts companies are again able to connect to an audience through relatability.

Companies demonstrate that they too celebrate these themes to humanise themselves and step away from the corporate entity image. Humanising leads to sympathising, and sympathising leads to bonding.

Given that companies have been around for a long time, many have started to turn adverts into a tradition. John Lewis are a great example of this as they release an advert each year and have become so ingrained into a viewer’s subconscious that people are waiting for their next Christmas advert.

John Lewis’ 2018 Christmas ad incorporates so many persuasive elements to take advantage of the viewers sentimentality. Let’s view some of them:

  1. The use of Elton John provides relatability to the viewer as he is a known face to them.
  2. Elton John’s Your Song taps into nostalgia as it has been around for a while (it’s 48 years old!).
  3. Flashbacks throughout Elton’s career also provide a source of nostalgia as it shows off styles throughout the years.
  4. Elton as child on stage elicits sympathy which again helps to humanise the brand to the viewer.
  5. Young Elton excited on Christmas day allows an older audience to feel nostalgic for the time they were young, whereas it provides relatability to the younger audience.

[Source: YouTube]

While the adverts are great at pulling on the heartstrings, it is important to remember that they are still a brand wanting to sell products. Despite this, each year John Lewis’ adverts display class and provide a bittersweet emotion for the viewers. What better emotion is there to feel around Christmas time?


During the Christmas holidays, the general public tend to have higher disposable incomes. Whether this be from working overtime or receiving an end of year bonus, people tend to have more cash to splash. While some of this goes into buying gifts, a lot is still spent on indulgence for holiday celebrations.

Due to the indulgence nature of Christmas, Supermarkets make their Christmas adverts focus on festive food and impulse purchase products. Along with this, they also sprinkle in a little sentimentality to get the emotions rolling.

Lidl’s 2018 December campaign is a bunch of smaller ads which have family settings to show off their products. They take advantage of community connotations while also displaying their food for indulgence. This connection helps keep the Lidl brand name in mind when thinking of indulgence during the holiday season.

[Source: YouTube]

Something else present in festive supermarket advertising is the use of humour (as also seen in Asda’s advert). This is because humour is another example of a great persuasion tactic – but that’s a whole other can of worms but still utilising emotions to an advantage.

Overall, Christmas adverts are great at connecting to their audience on an emotional level. They appeal to viewers on a relatable level through the connections they make to personal thoughts and memories. This allows big companies to feel more human and as a result, trustworthy.

From everyone at BrandRefinery, we hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!