Brand cheer spreads with Christmas campaign creative

CMO rounds-up the biggest Christmas campaigns from Australian and global brands in 2021 and the creative narratives driving them

Christmas carols in the retail stores, mince pies on the shelves, festive parties in the calendar - the 2021 festive season has firmly arrived. And with it comes an array of Christmas campaigns from the world's biggest advertisers.

Many have opted to accentuate community spirit and togertherness in their creative narratives, while several have used iconic animated characters and native animals to illustrate the celebratory nature of coming together and the need for kindness this Chriatmas. There are also plenty of tunes to pull at the heart strings, from new versions of old classics to crooning tunes from the latest music artists.

Here, we round-up several of the biggest Christmas campaigns this year both in Australia and abroad.

Myer aims to unriddle Christmas

Overcoming the often vague and confusing responses from family and friends as to what they’d like for Christmas is the focus of Myer’s festive campaign this year.

The ‘Unriddle Christmas’ campaign showcases a raft of the typical responses consumers give when asked for their prefect gift, from “I’m not really sure, surprise me” to “just something small” and “happy with anything”, then sets up Myer to turn them into well-received gifts.

The campaign kicks off with a film called The Vague Carol, which features a reinterpretation of the well-known Christmas tune, Joy to the World, then moves into examples of consumers being confounded by their questions on the perfect gift. The campaign debuted with MyerOne loyalty program members and is now running across TV, broadcast video on-demand (BVOD), out-of-home, digital, social, online and in-store.

Creative agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

Media agency: AKQA

Production company: Good Oil

‘Tis the season of yes for Optus

Optimism and the positive things that came come from saying ‘yes’ are the creative emphasis for Optus in its Christmas campaign for 2021.

The new film centres on the tale of an animated Australian glider looking to provide an ambitious surprise for its mate for Christmas, leading to the unveiling of a pair of bassinets for its expectant partner. The creative also reverses back to the moment of ‘yes’ that inspired these ambitious events.

The telco’s campaign has a direct tie-in to the future of Sugar Gliders, Krefft’s Glider and Savanna Gliders, which are all declining as species as a result of bushfire. As part of the Christmas campaign, Optus has partnered with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and is looking to raise $50,000 to help support and safeguard the animal’s future.

The Optus Christmas campaign encompasses TV spots, social content and out-of-home.

Agency: Special Group NZ

Production Company: Finch

Animation Company: Flux

Sound: Franklin Rd

Music: Level

Oxfam's naughty or nice fashion brand list

Oxfam has published a naughty versus nice list as part of its Christmas campaign this year, highlighting the fashion brands providing overseas workers providing a living wage versus those that aren’t.

On the naughty list were Jay Jays, Just Jeans, Lorna Jane, Myer and Peter Alexander, who lacked transparency around how and where they manufacture their clothes. By contrast, brands on the nice list are Best & Less, Big W, Bonds, City Chic, Cotton On, Country Road, Dangerfield, David Jones, Forever New, Gorman, H&M, Kmart, Mosaic brands (including Rivers and Katies) and Target.

The aim of the list is to help lift the women who make fashion clothing out of poverty. A living wage means enough money is earned to cover basic essentials for a family including food, housing, healthcare, clothing, transport, education and some money for unexpected events.

Oxfam Australia chief executive, Lyn Morgain, said it was particularly unfortunate some brands had failed to make commitments to ensure the payment of a living wage during the pandemic - a time when the industry has grown yet many garment workers have lost their jobs.

“Three major clothing companies in Australia – Lorna Jane, Myer and The Just Group – have failed to take the basic step of publishing key information about where they manufacture their clothes,” she said. “It’s particularly disappointing to see brands that promote the wellbeing of women, such as Lorna Jane, failing to be transparent about the factories in which their clothes are made. This supports a culture of secrecy that is harmful to the wellbeing of all women, including those who make our clothes, and entrenches the massive power disparity between brands and garment workers.”

Other brands, such as Jeans West and Zara, were seen to have made some progress, but still have work to do to catch up to the nice brands on their living wage journey.

Credit: Oxfam


Cashrewards celebrates Happy Dayz

Cashrewards is honouring the festive shopping season with its biggest season marketing campaign efforts to date.

The company has launched its biggest season marketing campaign along with a new ‘Happy Dayz’ campaign including creative featuring video content queens, SketchShe. The Happy Dayz umbrella campaign launched with the aim of winning over Australians who started shopping earlier than usual ahead of the key festive period to avoid stock shortages and shipping delays.

Happy Dayz is designed as a reflection both of summer, as well as the sense of excitement as the nation enters the first key shopping season since the shift towards living with Covid-19 and removal of lockdowns. It’s also designed as a flexible creative platform, allowing Cashrewards to address not just Christmas, but also Black Friday, Cyber weekend, Boxing Day and new Year Sales. It’s running across BVOD, YouTube, social, advertorial, digital display and outdoor channels.

Brands active on the Cashrewards platform include Myer, Big W, Catch, Liquorland,, Expedia, Bonds and First Choice Liquor. 

Australia Post spreads the merry cheer

An animated letter box choir signing the tune You make my dreams come true are the creative lead in Australia Post’s ‘Spread the merry’ Christmas advertising campaign.

Alongside the many warnings of posting parcels early this festive season, Australia Post has produced a 45-second advertising campaign aimed at recognising the celebratory spirit that comes with Christmas and the merry cheer of reconnecting with loved ones during the festive season.

Directed by Lachlan Dickie, the campaign film brings to life the many diverse voices and personalities of Australians through the use of classic and quirky Australian letterboxes. The integrated campaign launched on television with 45-second and 15-second spots and will run through November and December across TV, out-of-home, BVOD, radio, social, digital, press and in-store.

Creative agency: The Monkeys

Production company: Rabbit Content

Media agency: WaveMaker

Sound: Electric Dreams Studios

Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal returns

A well-entrenched Christmas campaign tradition for Kmart is the annual Wishing Tree Appeal. It’s the 34th year of the appeal, which is run in collaboration with The Salvation Army, making it Australia’s largest and longest-running gift collection.

Credit: Kmart

From 8 November to 24 December, shoppers can buy and drop unwrapped presents in any Kmart stores nationally for the appeal, as well as donate financially in-store or online. The departure store has also introduced new elements this year to encourage involvement, such as sustainability measures like a tree made of 100 per cent recyclable, renewable paper. There are also community-based initiatives for schools and workplaces.

To date, the Appeal has raised more than 8 million gifts for vulnerable people, with close to 400,000 gifts being collected and nearly $300,000 in funds every year.

Coles campaign aims to make Beautiful Noise

At the heart of the integrated Coles Christmas campaign this year is the Neil Diamond song, Beautiful Noise, reimagined by Australian artist, Emily Soon.

The creative message is all about coming together, from reconnecting with mates to ensuring families can still connect even while experiencing potential last-minute changes to restrictions across the country. Coles said the emphasis is on Aussie spirit, making the most of Christmas and finding joy and laughter whatever this festive season’s catchups might looks like. A second element of the creative is on Australians supporting communities, with workers from healthcare, food rescue organisations and home delivery drivers all featured in the campaign.

For DDB Australia MD of strategy and growth, Leif Stromnes, the campaign is about encapsulating the emotional release Aussie consumers have been waiting for this year. It also takes into account a survey done by Coles around consumer sentiment, which found the majority of people feeling more grateful for their family and friends this year. The survey also showed the majority looking forward to the togetherness of Christmas.

Creative agency: DDB Group

Production company: Revolver

Sound: Sonar Music

Music: Universal Music Publishing group

ALDI aims to prove you can’t overcook Christmas

In a approach that hams up Christmas more than ever before, ALDI’s festive season campaign for 2021 is all about celebrating Aussies getting what they want and deserve: A completely overcooked Christmas.

Aimed at encouraging consumers to push the gravy boat out and get radically creative with their Christmas preparations this year, ALDI’s ‘You can’t overcook Christmas’ campaign highlights birds inside birds, low-priced French champagne and dressed hams as it strives to encourage users to go all out this year. With an initially slow beginning to the motif of carol, Oh Christmas Tree, the campaign’s quickly evolving visual farce is accompanied by the tune, Sandstorm.

“We’ve created an emotive and upbeat Christmas campaign that is centred on the joy of letting loose,” ALDI director of marketing, Mark Richardson, said. “We hope that the ‘You Can’t Overcook Christmas’ call to arms, together with ALDI’s prices and phenomenal range, will energise shoppers to create the best possible Christmas for family and friends this year.”

Creative agency: BMF

Media agency: Zenith

Production company: Finch (film); Bantam Studios (retail, content and social); The Kitchen Creative Group (brand out-of-home and point-of-sale)

Sound: Rumble Studios

Woolworths puts spotlight on community

Woolworths also debuted a Christmas iteration of its ‘Fresh Food People’ campaign putting community care at the centre of its narrative.

The Christmas campaign is anchored around a 30-second commercial aimed at capturing the excitement of customers preparing for festive entertainment. The focus of creative is on sharing Australian produced food as well as showing care for customers, team and community.

The work, developed in partnership with the M&C Saatchi team at Greenhouse, also highlights the ways Woolworths will help customers shop their way, as well as the supermarket’s commitment to caring for all Australians (including the furry ones) through food rescue and wildlife rehabilitation partners.

The integrated multi-channel campaign launched on free-to-air TV on 7 November and is also rolling across radio, press, digital, content, social and OOH. The Fresh Ideas magazine and bespoke landing page on the Woolworths website also offer tips and Christmas recipes.

Creative agency: M&C Saatchi

Production company: Flint

Music and sound design: Song Zu

Prezzee looks to take the ‘what if’ out of gifting

Egift card provider, Prezzee, is also looking to solve an array of common gifting issues, such as whether people may already have an item, or don’t like it, by positioning its cards as the most certain solution.

The new campaign, called ‘Take the “what if” our of gifting’, is a first for the Australian business, and is running on billboards, impulse screen, radio, YouTube, Spotify, scooters, retail and across social media channels. The focus of the creative is aimed to be both simple and playful, reinforcing the benefits of a Prezzee Gift Card. The company works with more than 200 retailers including David Jones, The iconic, Apple, Spotify and eBay.

The key elements of removing doubt, uncertainty, offering flexibility, choice and guaranteed delivery are all tackled through the campaign.

Creative agency: Houston Group

David Jones makes it a Christmas of dreams

It’s a Christmas of dreams for David Jones this year. The departure store’s 30-second Christmas creative, produced in partnership with The Monkeys, focuses on a collection of different people coming together to exchange gifts, hug and share drinks and a feast over Christmas. There’s also a fashion hue to the campaign, and it’s shot throughout with a golden hue.

The campaign is running on TV, BVOD and YouTube. David Jones also has decked out the windows of its flagship Elizabeth Street Sydney store location with the 183th edition of its Christmas displays. The theme is from the book, My Pet Star, about the importance of kindness and friendship, by Corrine Averiss and Rosalind Bearshaw.

Creative agency: The Monkeys

Media agency: UM

Officeworks becomes Santa’s first stop

An animated Santa is the central character of Officeworks’ Christmas campaign for 2021. As the ad progresses, he distributes his range of gifts picked up from the stationery and office products supplier to Mrs Claus, Rudolph the reindeer, an elf and young girl in a honour of Christmas.

The 30-second ‘Santa’s first stop’ TV spot is complemented by Officeworks’ sponsorship of Nine’s Lego Masters Christmas special, which aired last week, as well as a program of media including radio, print, digital and social media, out-of-home, catalogue and in-store. There’s also the return of the AR Santa experience first debuted last year, as well as Snapchat Santa Game and lens, an online gift finder and ‘Guess the gift’ competition on social.

Officeworks general manager marketing, data and insights, Jessica Richmond, said the campaign was designed to inspire customers to find the perfect thoughtful gift from the wide range of art supplies and craft, technology and gaming products or from its print and create services.

Creative agency: AJF GrowthOps

Media agency: Initiative

Social and digital agency: Reprise

IGA and the specialness of locals

Highlighting IGA’s local community role and ownership is the emphasis of the supermarket group’s Christmas campaign this year, ‘IGA, where Christmas is made special for locals’.

Led by 30-second and 15-second TVCs, the campaign is all about celebrating the growing role IGA has played in local community and especially during the pandemic by celebrating the special nature of a local connection. It’s also about acknowledging the desire for Aussies to reconnect with friends and family during the festive season.

The creative shows a day in the life of an IGA storeowner and how they always go the extra mile for customers to give them everything they need for a wonderful Christmas. The campaign is running across TV, radio, social, digital, in catalogue and in-store.

“IGA retailers across the country are passionate about meeting the needs of the local communities that they serve. They always go to great lengths to support the locals, from stocking specialty products, supporting local charities, providing the personalised service that the locals love, and making Christmas preparation easy by having everything they need and at great value,” Metcash GM marketing, Tracy Wilson, said.

Creative agency: The Core Agency

Production company: Friske

Media: Starcom

Sound: Rumble

Dymocks returns to TVCs in time for Christmas

Bookseller, Dymocks, has returned to TV advertising after an eight-year hiatus with a new campaign just in time for Christmas.

The 30-second ad spot creative also highlights the personal touch of the local store owner – in this case, bookseller, Janelle Fyson, from Toowoomba - and includes the tagline, ‘Shop your locally owned store this Christmas’. The ad features the song, All I need, by Wilde lakes.

In the campaign, Janelle begins in-store supporting a customer, then gets on her motorbike in order to hand deliver an item to another customer who has been waiting on a book to arrive. Fyson was personally delivering books, games, puzzles and activities on her motorbike to her local customers during lockdown and was the inspiration for the latest advertising campaign.   

Dymocks marketing and loyalty manager, Gail McWhinnie, pointed to Dymocks as Australia’s oldest bookstore with stores all over Australia. “During lockdown we saw some wonderful community spirit which highlighted how important books, puzzles and activities were to people. Our tv ad is a celebration of this community spirit that encompasses the Dymocks culture,” she said.  

The ad is being screened nationally via free-to-air plus BVOD, YouTube and other digital video channels from 21 November 2021.   

Production company: Walrus Films

Media: Growe Media

3 of the global bigwigs

John Lewis takes in an unexpected guest

A tale of friendship between a boy and an unexpected guest from another world takes centre stage in this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad.

The two-minute advertisement, entitled ‘Unexpected Guest’, shares a story of friendship while celebrating the magic of Christmas moments experienced for the first time by space traveller, Skye. In the creative, young boy, Nathan, discovers and makes friends with Skye, who has landed in the woods beside his family home. As the creative unfolds, the pair engage in festive traditions such as decorating a tree with fairy lights, mince pies, eating together and the gift of a Christmas jumper.

As Skye leaves, she leaves a twinkling star on a Christmas tree in the distance. The visual is accompanied by a version of the 1980s hit, Electric Dreams, performed by British 20-year-old singer-songwriter, Lola Young.

The ad launched first to members via email access before debuting on John Lewis’ online and social media channels 90 minutes later, then on ITV. It’s supported by an experiential activation in the store’s 10 Christmas Emporiums, allowing consumers to view Skye’s ship and create sharable animated gifs and selfies. There are also two Snapchat lenses connected to the campaign and spaceship, plus shoppable scenes on the John Lewis website.

Another first this year is a member-only virtual experience where consumers can take on the character of Nathan and explore the world of the advert, discovering AR characters and downloadable prizes such as printable toys and activities. Hidden characters from previous John Lewis adverts are also waiting to be found, and new and exclusive content is scheduled to drop on a weekly basis up until Christmas.

Alongside the campaign, John Lewis is selling a version of the Christmas jumper featured and will donate 10 per cent of profits of its sale to charities, FareShare and Home-Start UK.

Coca Cola’s celebration of humanity

While it’s not running in Australia, Coca-Cola’s Christmas campaign this year is running across 90 countries and also taking in the themes of community and togetherness.

The ‘Real Magic at Christmas’ is based on the message of festive joy and inclusion and features a short film supported by a series of digital activations. The uplifting two-and-a-half-minute film shows a boy whose imagination and holiday spirit summon a community’s goodwill and create a shared moment of magic over a festive meal and a Coke.

It’s the first Christmas campaign by the FMCG brand under its new ‘Real magic’ brand platform and was created by dentsuMB UK and directed by Sam Brown of Rogue Films.

“Coca-Cola has always believed in the magic of Christmas and this year, our campaign celebrates the real magic of human connections,” The Coca-Cola Company global CMO, Manolo Arroyo, said. “With a simple and uplifting message of unity, inclusion and positivity at its heart, it aims to remind us that all we need for a magical Christmas is shared moments with community and the ones we love.”

In North America, ‘Real Magic at Christmas’ includes a partnership with online fan connection platform, Cameo, which sees consumers able to request a personalised video from Santa in English, Spanish or French. These will be sent to consumers at random. A virtual event is also being held, and the Coca-Cola holiday caravan will be out on the streets across the US and Canada for pictures with Santa as well as drinks sampling.

Amazon shares gift of kindness

Amazon’s 2021 global Christmas campaign has a similar theme around the kindness of strangers at its creative core.

The advert aims to demonstrate the power of connecting with people around us this Christmas, and how kindness is the greatest gift of all. It features a young woman as well as her neighbour and follows the story of the young women resuming activities resembling her normal life after the changes of the past pandemic year. As she does so and struggles through normality, a neighbour reaches out and a new friendship forms. Their interactions culminate in the gift of a bird feeder from Amazon from the neighbour for the young woman’s balcony.

The visuals are done to the tune of Adele’s new song, Hold On.

“This holiday season will be shaped by what we've experienced during the pandemic,” said Amazon EU GM of integrated marketing, Ed Smith. “The past 18 months have been challenging for people across the globe, including many young adults. Our time together cannot be taken for granted. So, this year, while the world will not be totally back to normal, opportunities for kindness and connection will take on a newfound importance.”

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