We look behind the Christmas TV ads to see what the top brands are doing digitally, in-store and elsewhere to enhance their seasonal campaigns.

i-SPY: Behind the Christmas Ads

Posted by: Line Up on December 8th, 2014 IN Corporate video

The battle of the Christmas ads hit the headlines earlier than ever this year and was, quite frankly, old news by about mid-November. And whether you’re enchanted by Monty the Penguin, angry about Sainsbury’s hijacking of the war to end all wars, reduced to tears by Boots’ heartfelt family gathering or already bored of M&S’ fairies, you will certainly have your opinions.

Since we’re in the business of taking a more holisitic approach to marketing, we thought we’d delve a little into what lies behind these glossy TV ads. Which campaigns have real depth, who’s giving their fans more to talk about and share and how are these big ideas translating into something more tangible for today’s consumer. Here’s what our top 5 brands are doing behind the camera.

John Lewis

Arguably winning the ‘most talked about’ ad despite Sainsbury’s attempts to kick Monty out of the park, the good old partnership has gone Monty mad in every sense.

Checking out @MontyThePenguin (over 34,000 followers!) and his new girlfriend, @MabelThePenguin on Twitter is a slightly surreal experience in which you almost really do suspend disbelief and imagine it all to be real. They go on dates together and it genuinely hits the press!


And if you have kids that really do believe the hype, then there’s Monty’s Den at every John Lewis store. This is a reincarnation of Santa’s grotto in which Father Christmas has been replaced by, yes, you guessed it, a penguin. Have your photo taken with him before you browse the Monty merchandise.

You can buy almost anything Monty – apart from the toy itself that has sold out. But there are books, ties, Onesies, tablecloths, slippers, cufflinks, cushions and the list goes on.

If you’re not satisfied with all of that you can, of course, buy Tom Odell’s rather lovely soundtrack.

To say that John Lewis have embraced the idea would be an understatement.

If we have Coca-Cola to thank for a red Santa Clause, would it be too far-fetched to imagine that Monty could stick around for longer than we were expecting?

Marks and Spencer

Definitely not our favourite ad but we love following the antics of @thetwofairies as they fly around the country giving deserving people treats and surprises. As the ad first aired, The Two Fairies already had 12,000 Twitter followers and that is now topping 28,000.

The campaign really began on November 3rd as a number of people received random gifts – many unbranded – from M&S.

Cleverly keeping the press in the loop by sending them riddles, the teaser built steam and the fairies are now as busy as Father Christmas flying around the country making people happy with little surprises and gifts including Christmas trees. You can nominate deserving friends using the hashtag #FollowTheFairies.

And every @thetwofairies Tweet rhymes – M&S, for that alone we salute you.


Another seasonally comforting idea from the John Lewis Partnership, this time from Waitrose. Following the launch of their ad featuring a little girl who has been chosen to run the gingerbread stall at her school Christmas Fair, Waitrose have launched a digital campaign to get their online community baking for others.


Running on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and using the hashtag #BakeItForward, this is a great extension of the ad with reinforcement at the point of sale from recipe cards and there were ‘Icing Stations’ at 200 stores during the weekend of 22nd/23rd November.


We’ve all heard the rows about the ad (for which the ASA received 727 complaints) and the chocolate bar but, whatever your opinion is, you can’t ignore the fact that 50% of chocolate bar proceeds are going to the Royal British Legion to support their incredible work.

Not the kind of subject matter that lends itself to a jovial, accompanying online campaign but it has obviously got people talking and you can’t knock Sainsbury’s for their ongoing support for such a good cause. In their own words, Christmas is for Sharing, and what a great charity to share it with.


From the brand that is credited with turning Christmas red, an ad that promotes the wholesome idea of a holiday season in which we are seeking to make others happy. And this year Coca-Cola is taking to the road in the UK and literally spreading good cheer. The infamous truck will be touring the country sharing seasonal music, the chance to have a photo taken in front of the truck and, of course, a free Coca-Cola.


Using the hashtags #holidaysarecoming and #givehappiness, fans can join the conversation and send Christmas wishes and, of course, there are limited edition Christmas bottles to be had.

So, our top 5 behind-scenes-of-the-ad campaigns. It would appear that with the rise and rise of social media, Christmas really does come earlier each year. However, if it means – as these campaigns promote – that we are all caring, sharing and spreading more happiness, who’s complaining?

Line Up

Line Up

Line Up is an award-winning, creative communications agency, headquartered in London. We create engaging live and digital brand experiences for internal and external audiences all over the world.

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