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All I want for Christmas, said the endlessly youthful Mariah Carey, is you. That’s patently wrong, of course, because all I want for Christmas is a new MacBook, but I understand the sentiment.

Christmas is about the experience. It’s about chestnuts roasting, snuggling up to family (who you’ll probably argue with about optimum chestnut-roasting temperatures within minutes of being in the house with them). It’s about gifts, of course. But it’s mostly about that absolutely heart-melting moment when someone’s wish has come true. Because that’s what we all want really, isn’t it? To make someone happy. Better yet, if it’s someone we actually like.

What does Christmas mean to you?

It means different things to us all, of course. But the best marketing strategies acknowledge that at the core of the festive season is the simple need to connect. And boy, do they have amazing ways of getting that message across (whilst selling millions of tonnes of their product, natch).

Here are some of my all-time favourites.

Air Canada gives the gift of home.

The Maple Leaf pub in Covent Garden is a hub for Canadians away from home. They go there to be ridiculously nice to each other, presumably. They also go there to connect. When you’re far away from your nearest and dearest, it’s nice to go where people sound the same as you. Air Canada representatives spoke with drinkers in the pub in the run up to Christmas to find out their plans for the festive season. And when they heard there were people who couldn’t make it home for financial reasons, they did an amazing thing. I can’t even, right now. I’ve got dust….in my eye….


Ikea emotionally destroys parents.

Ikea Spain had this absolutely soul-destroying ad campaign a few years ago where they got kids to write two letters – one to the Three Kings (a Father Christmas equivalent) and one to their parents. Both letters asked for something for Christmas. The results were typically tear-jerking because, obviously, they didn’t necessarily want the newest game console or toy. See for yourself. And I defy anyone with a child (or anyone with a heart, basically) not to be utterly wrecked by the end of the video.


The boy and the Piano

This one is all about the power of the right gift, from arguably the masters of the emotional blackmail advert – John Lewis. The advert takes you back in time from Elton John‘s luxury home to his childhood, and touches on points in his life throughout that period – like a glam rock version of Scrooged. You ultimately end up with Tiny Elton whilst you sob, presumably with your face in a bag of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Miniatures, wishing you’d told your Nanna you loved her more often.



The Debenham‘s one from 2017 was a nice treat, if you want to celebrate the power of social media in our pursuit of love AND get to see Ewan McGregor dressed as an incongrous lamplighter/chimney sweep. It’s also a treat for you if you still believe in Fate, and True Love, as 21st century concepts. Which I’m far too urban and trendy to do, obvs. I do, however, firmly believe in the power of a hashtag.


Nick Offerman’s Yule Log

This is genuinely one of the most festive and most terrifying things I’ve ever seen. Lagavulin Distillery use the yule log concept to promote their whiskey by planting the comedian Nick Offerman in a leather chair in front of a roaring fire and leaving him there, sipping whiskey and staring into your very soul, for 45 genuinely excruciating minutes.

Offerman is clearly employed by Father Christmas to work out whether you’ve been naughty or nice and my God, this advert does make you think about your lifestyle choices and how you really need to change your ways. And people clearly love to be judged, as this video has now been viewed on YouTube over 3.5 million times.

We’ll be following this up with Kerry Ferguson’s Top 5 very shortly and then snippets from our very own Christmas campaign, so check those out over the next few weeks.