Christmas is by some distance my favourite time of year, and the appearance of the jolly red Coca Cola truck on TV towards the end of November has always been my cue to kick start the seasonal festivities.

Christmas marketing campaigns have always been an area of fascination for me, and I always look forward to seeing what the big hitters come up with each year. Sadly, I don’t think this has been a stellar year for festive marketing campaigns. Almost all of the big supermarkets put out fairly uninspiring ads, and while Sainsbury’s was arguably the most talked about, it’s well-intended campaign just missed the mark for me.

Here’s my round-up of the campaigns that brought some real seasonal cheer this year.

John Lewis

John Lewis was the first port of call in my round-up of the best marketing and PR campaigns of Christmas 2013, and the king of Christmas ads didn’t disappoint this time around either.

By now most of us have seen Monty the penguin totter around looking for love, with the campaign backed up by enough merchandise to fill Christmas stockings across the UK.

While the advert was another great success, I liked how other companies were quick to piggyback on its success.

penguins

Penguin Books was quickest off the mark, kicking things off with some creative engagement with the @MontyThePenguin Twitter handle just hours after the advert went live. This was followed up with a witty post on its youtube channel, and a low-fi, but no-less effective Vine post.

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A day later, McVitie’s chipped in with a cheeky effort on its Twitter account.

Penguin biscuits

My favourite of the lot though was this effort from Barmouth furniture company Pieces for Places, which demonstrated exactly how a regional business can cash in on a bigger company’s multi-million pound project.

 

 

And if penguins aren’t your thing – you could always take a look at what Peterborough United came up with, featuring a range of goods available at the club shop this Christmas.

 

 

M&S

As reported in The Drum, M&S was voted this year’s best Christmas ad, according to research compiled by City Numbers.

While it’s commendable that the ad didn’t lean heavily on a celebrity endorsement, instead featuring two fairies spreading Christmas joy, I thought the advert was a bit boring. However, the accompanying social media campaign was much more interesting.

Through its Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter accounts, M&S is engaging with followers that use the #followthefairies hashtag.  In return, the fairies are carrying out random acts of kindness to worthy followers that have spread their own seasonal cheer in one way or another.

The result was a series of heartwarming stories of festive charity that struck a chord with followers.

Users were also encouraged to submit their own Christmassy images, which were given a touch of magic and sparkle by the two fairies (with a little help from the M&S marketing department), and festive poems under 140 characters are also re-tweeted on the fairies’ specially set up Twitter account, which has racked up 36,500 followers.

 

McVitie’s

Alongside the reactive effort mentioned earlier, McVitie’s also put out its first Christmas advert in more than 30 years, tieing in with its 2014 Sweeet campaign.

The quirky ad, which features cute animals climbing out of a box of biscuits before singing a Christmas carol (really – watch the video) might not be the most straightforward of Christmas campaigns, but at the very least it stood out from an otherwise uninspiring pack.

Yes, McVitie’s had to issue a statement denying any mistreatment to an entranced-looking rabbit in the advert, and arguably could have backed the campaign with a more robust social media offering, but for the buzz it created online, it deserves its place on our list.

 

Fox Sports

Adverts relating to sports coverage are typically bombastic, brash affairs that are usually difficult to distinguish from one another but this effort from Fox Sports did raise a smile. I appreciate that jokes about what managers have on their Christmas list stretch back as far as the nativity story, but it was the best of a bad bunch, and credit is due for at least avoiding 30 seconds of goals and slide tackles set to a club soundtrack.

 

 

That concludes my personal picks of this year’s top adverts – why not share with us your favourite adverts over the last few weeks? Tweet the team at @outwritepr.