In Review: The Three Most Successful Christmas Adverts of 2016

With Christmas adverts becoming increasingly anticipated, who were the winners in the 2016 campaign?

Christmas adverts are becoming an institution. Many people don’t start feeling festive until Coca Cola’s Christmas advert, ‘The Holidays are Coming’, airs. Christmas adverts are no longer seen as a quick way to boost festive sales. Christmas adverts have gone through a cultural shift, no longer an outbound marketing strategy that looks to ramp up sales, although of course, that is the underlying goal. Christmas adverts are about instilling warmth and excitement in viewers building the brand and increasing social presence, through review, we will look at the three most successful Christmas adverts of the 2016 campaign.


Christmas adverts aren’t about showcasing your wares; it is now about entertainment. Over the last five years, viewers are looking for a story, a performance and a build-up to festivities. While increased sales occur organically through this, the importance is social sharing and getting people talking about your advert and your brand.

What Viewers Want

While many of us sigh at the sign of the Christmas season beginning earlier every year, some viewers are actively seeking it. YouTube noticed a 40% increase in people searching for Christmas adverts in 2016, with much of the searches coming before any adverts had aired. Dropping hints and clips through social media has been hugely successful in creating a buzz around the advert before people even know what it is about.


In 2016, we noticed an increasing trend of successful adverts that don’t air on television, in fact, the third most successful advert in the 2016 Christmas ad campaign, was not even shown on TV. Social media is significantly benefitting adverts, giving them ample exposure without the expense and rigmarole of TV advertising

3 – Burberry – The Tale Of Thomas Burberry

The lavish and indulgent advert by Burberry is a blockbuster in its own right. Costing more than £10 million to produce and lasting an epic 3 minutes and 36 seconds, this advert is better placed as a movie trailer.


Amazingly, this advert did not air on TV, perhaps as it seems to have more content and lasts longer than some of the programmes it would feature alongside.

The advert features famous faces such as Sienna Miller, Lily James, Dominic West and Domhnall Gleeson and tells the story of the founder of Burberry, featuring his failures and successes. The compelling and interesting story has made most of the Twitter following and cast of the advert want a full feature-length film made about his life.


With the advert’s style, intrigue, class and plot, it is not hard to see why this advert attracted 13.9 million views on YouTube. Where this advert does fall down, however, is there is not even the slightest nod to Christmas. Can this short-film really be defined as a Christmas ad?

2 – Sainsburys – The Greatest Gift

Sticking with the movie theme, Sainsbury’s offering for 2016 depicted a musical comedy. It was a cleverly animated production that also included a famous face. Comedian, James Corden sings the catchy song on which the advert is centred around.


While Sainsbury’s ad clocked up fewer views than Burberry, YouTube uses algorithms based on the views and length of time people spent watching the advert to determine its success.

The advert tells the tale of a father that wants to meet all the demands of Christmas while wanting to spend time with his family. Bringing back a Christmas moral of the importance of spending time with family, this advert clocked up 13.4 million views. Its presence on social media was powerful too, within three days of the advert airing, 91% of tweets about the advert were about how happy it made them feel.

1 – John Lewis – Buster The Boxer

The king of Christmas adverts, John Lewis, netted 21.5 million views on their Christmas advert that features a dog (and woodland creatures) having fun on a trampoline. While the advert had mixed reviews, in fact, most people didn’t associate the advert with John Lewis at all, it was still the most shared advert of all time and by far the biggest ad campaign of the year.

Within two hours of the advert airing, Buster and friends were mentioned a resounding 30,683 times on Twitter. John Lewis has seen how successful a powerful Christmas advert can be, with the numbers of shoppers increasing by 50% since their Christmas ad in 2013 (The Bear and The Hare). Each ad campaign gives John Lewis a 16% lift in Christmas sales and its reputation is now becoming increasingly synonymous with the festive season.

So why are Christmas Adverts so important?

Christmas adverts are more than just a way to boost short-term sales. The return on investment for Christmas adverts can have a much longer impact for the brand. Christmas adverts help with short-term sales and profits, but also buzz and fame for the advert and the brand. The more memorable and famous the advert becomes, the harder it works for the brand. Christmas adverts can be vital in increasing short and long-term profits as well as converting future customers.

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