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Christmas Ads for 2016 – Who Shaped the Festive Season?

It doesn't seem 12 months since we were first introduced to the old man on the moon, who won the hearts of millions in another ad coup from John Lewis. Once again, the winter season has dished out its annual dose of festive cheer, hoping to win audiences across platforms with recurring content and humorous, affectionate characters. We run down some of this year’s favourites.

1) Sainsbury's - Christmas Is A Time for Sharing

Sainsbury's have always gone big with their Christmas ads - going so far as to recreate the Christmas Day football match a couple of years ago. This time around, the big budgets have seen a wonderfully cheesy, animated feature with the waxy vocals of State-side sweetheart James Corden. It's a nice, simple ad that has a family friendly appeal - catchy tunes and wonderfully animated visuals. The animated element is particularly interesting - giving the character a versatile, recognisable face that can be consistently seen across devices, it'll be exciting to watch Sainsbury's roll out their digital, especially mobile, content over the coming weeks.

2) Aldi - Kevin the Carrot 

Maintaining the animated vibe is Aldi's festive offering, a slightly dark yet humorous saga about Kevin the lowly carrot, as he traverses the treacherous table of food in search of salvation. Kevin is an empathetic, recognisable everyman (everycarrot?) and we all 'root' for him - even in his less than ideal state by the end of the ad spot. Again, a central protagonist is a perfect way to unify brand coherency across platforms. Aldi could also create a quick, interactive mobile game to help Kevin make his way across the perilous platter - an easy way to bring the content to multiple devices?

3) Burberry - The Tale of Thomas Burberry

And now for something completely different. A premium creative starring Domnhall Gleason, Lily James, Sienna Millerand Dominic West, this ad clocks in at over 200 seconds of garment making fun, crossing decades and continents, in a bid to discover just how impressive the Burberry inception was. It's a magnificent story, one that almost cries out to be turned into a feature. In terms of cross-platform advertising, an ideal world would see the visuals, the stars, all reappearing on multiple formats - intriguing audiences and guiding them to a place where they can watch the full ad. Not as festive as the rest, but a stellar creative nonetheless.

4) Waitrose - #HomeForChristmas 

Similar, in some ways, to John Lewis's Snowman ad from a few years ago, Waitrose brings a heartwarming tale of love conquering distance and danger. It's generally emotive and exciting, not needing audio to let audiences realise what's going on and how high the stakes can be.

The creative itself is an amazing testament to visual arts (it's hard to tell just how much of the bird is actually CGI) and a rousing overall compliment to John Lewis's offering.

5) Boots Christmas - The Gift of Beauty

Boots have also succeeded in creating an ad that works without audio. It starts with a basic premise, half a million women in the UK have to work on Christmas day. From there, the ad becomes a rousing, heartwarming piece, relying on visual storytelling to drive home an often-forgotten message. Well worth a watch.

6) John Lewis - Buster the Boxer 

And so we get to the usual champion of the Christmas season - the one to beat, the benchmark. And while John Lewis didn't jump over the moon this year around, the delightful little story of Buster has already amassed a grand 17m views on YouTube, with tie in digital campaigns (and Buster toys) rounding out the experience.

John Lewis went one step further, pushing into the VR space with a 360 trampoline experience - a nice step forward for the brand in a period when any niche can separate you from the rest of the market.