Monday , 25 March 2019
Home > Brand strategy & thought pieces > Battle of the Christmas ads 2013 – is this the UK’s Superbowl?

Battle of the Christmas ads 2013 – is this the UK’s Superbowl?

** UPDATED ** As we are all no doubt aware, it is that time of the year again when we hear the smile-raising tune of ‘Holidays, the modern day sign the festive season has started, and the battle of the Christmas ads 2013 begins.

It amazes me how much earlier consumers, peers, friends and family think about Christmas each year.

Harrods have their Christmas shop up from mid-July, and why not – but that is not for the mainstream’s enjoyment, that is for tourists to be able to go home and decorate their trees with Harrods of London ornaments.

What really is interesting, however, is how the retailers’ ads are pitched against each other for both sentiment and social shareability.

It feels as if this is our Superbowl, with John Lewis and M&S being the teams leading the way.

After a year of trading, months of seasonal fashion planning and ad agencies pitching their vision for bringing Christmas alive through the power of brand-led campaigns, the likes, the views, the forwards and the tweets are about to be counted.

From my perspective I felt M&S had stolen the show, I did not really engage with or enjoy the John Lewis ad as much as the intertwined children’s storytelling of M&S. But that was clearly just me.

The John Lewis’ ad became the most shared web video in the world in just four days – pretty impressive in anyone’s books.

Maybe it was the nature of the ad being largely product-agnostic and more about telling a great story that has set it apart from its rival?

It stands to reason, given that M&S managed 23,500 social shares compared to John Lewis’ 296,000, that consumers are more interested in seeing a Christmas ad that celebrates and injects the magic of Christmas over one that has a strong focus on product.

Today’s shoppers are wise to subtle sales techniques so discreet labels on product in the ad saying ‘Love me’ and ‘Drink me’ will naturally be a turn off for viewers.

christmas ads

Interestingly one that caught my eye amongst the myriad of Christmas ads this weekend was Lidl.

Their ‘A Lidl Christmas Magic’ campaign looks really good, clearly targets the middle-class through their deluxe range and also raises a smile – will be interesting to see how it is viewed in the wider media as it reaches full rollout later this week.

Still, it looks like John Lewis will be lifting the Christmas Ad Superbowl this year.


I like to think that it is not often that I’m proved wrong, let alone twice in one blog post. It appears Sainsbury’s are indeed the retailer to steal the show and cast their rivals to the curb with their fifty minute Christmas in a Day film that is being drip fed into the media through trailers now, with the full film premiering at a red carpet event in London on 28 November before going up on YouTube the following morning.

Have to say the trailer (below) did raise a smile and make me cast my mind back to family celebrations around Christmas time as I was growing up.

Although technically not an ad, I think this effort from Sainsbury’s will prove to be the winner as it celebrates honest family stories behind Christmas, with no emphasis on selling or pushing product. Bravo Sainsbury’s.


From a store window perspective, I had to update this post to show how lovely the JLP & Peter Jones store windows are this year…

What are your views on Christmas ads in general?

Do they resonate and help you to celebrate the season or are they old news after you’ve seen them?

Who do you think is winning the Battle of the Christmas ads 2013?

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About GregDillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic. Feel free to email him at: or follow on Twitter @StratTalking

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