Rooster Reacts: 2021’s Big Christmas Ads

Rooster Reacts: 2021’s Big Christmas Ads
15th November 2021 James Brooke

Rooster Reacts: 2021’s Big Christmas Ads

After a year dominated by covid and the climate, the UK’s biggest retailers and brands have set out to spread festive joy like that of Christmases past. Here’s what Team Rooster had to say about this year’s Christmas ad collection.

With last year’s Christmas locked down, we’re keeping everything crossed that this year’s festivities will return to their pre-pandemic glory – complete with last minute Christmas Eve dash to the supermarket, dogs knocking over Christmas trees, and Grandma drinking one (five) too many Baileys.

So, without further ado, our review of the top Christmas ads and overall standout campaign (or not) at the bottom…

John Lewis

James, MD:

In standard JL fare, this tugs at the heart strings, thanks principally to the soundtrack. Not a standout year, but tasty all the same.

7/10.

Yaz, Head of PR:

Relief that it’s not another animated tear-jerker, and that there is no obvious big product push this year. Who doesn’t love an Iron Giant meets ET story? It’s not the most memorable but hits the right tone of light-hearted optimism.

6/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

Don’t love the music (has it been used on another advert recently?), don’t love the storyline – not their strongest Christmas offering.

4/10.

Natalie, Senior Account Manager:

Firstly, how’s it already time for Christmas adverts?! Whenever I think of John Lewis Christmas adverts, I still think of Lily Allen singing Somewhere Only We Know (turns out that was in 2013. Yes, EIGHT years ago). I like that John Lewis has taken to conveying important messages rather than pushing its products and trying to get us to buy expensive, glitzy gifts. Reminded me how sweet children are – of course if an alien turned up in the woods they would befriend them – and to treat everyone equally, even aliens. Still, not my favourite of theirs…

6/10

M&S – Food

James, MD:

Surely the winner in the annual battle of the Xmas ads this year! Percy highlights the store and products resulting in both creative and blatant product promotion all beautifully wrapped up together.

9/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

A solid effort from M&S with Dawn French as the sugarplum fairy and Tom Holland as Percy Pig – but a bit too salesy for my liking.

5/10.

Natalie, Senior Account Manager:

Now, I love a Percy Pig, but I’m surprised they turned him into a character and thought the advert felt a little young. Still drooled at all the food and sparkly gin though, so the advert clearly worked…

5/10.

M&S – Home & Fashion

James, MD:

Why is M&S food so good and their fashion so bad?! That is all this ad communicates when compared to Percy’s Xmas Fare. It’s cheesy and boring.

2/10.

Yaz, Head of PR:

Watched it twice because I thought I had missed something. There’s no narrative other than “here’s a selection of scenarios in which you can wear M&S clothes.” And the scenarios are not particularly extraordinary, so I’m confused by their slogan this year. A miss from me. But I like the fluffy coat.

3/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

Nothing original but festive fun all the same – great soundtrack, a Christmas tree and plenty of sparkle.

6/10.

Disney

James, MD:

Disney magic, but just not sure how much it’ll be viewed at almost 3.5 minutes long! Lovely story that beautifully tackles a difficult challenge at Xmas.

7/10.

Yaz, Head of PR:

Heart-warming and enjoyable to watch, but mostly a reminder of how much Disney owns now! The Disney+ channel is going to feature quite heavily in most households throughout the Christmas holidays as it’s relevant to every age group (my dad steals our login). I want to build a gingerbread house.

8/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

A little long and too try-hard but I appreciate the effort.

5/10.

TK Maxx:

James, MD:

So boring until the last 15 seconds, but even then, it doesn’t communicate anything. Magic blue shoes, really?!

4/10.

Yaz, Head of PR:

Had grand expectations for this one after last year’s goat advert. It wasn’t as clever or funny, but I do love a wicked pair of boots. I think it could have been executed better (they oversell it by the end) but fun all the same.

6/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

Quirky, colourful, and fun – everything that a Christmas advert should be. My favourite of the bunch.

8/10.

Natalie, Senior Account Manager:

Love it! TK Maxx is becoming the dark horse of Christmas adverts and I love how varied they are. Sometimes you just need fun rather than pulling at your heartstrings *Drives to TK Maxx immediately to get myself the boots*…

6/10.

Boots

James, MD: 

How to perfectly balance the star quality of a celeb and your product offering. Simple yet clever. Well played Boots.

9/10.

Yaz, Head of PR:

I KNEW she was going to pull out one of those light mirrors. Every year you’re climbing over them in the stores. Yes, it’s a Mary Poppins rip-off but it did make me want to go down to Boots and do my big end-of-year haul with all my Boots points – they really do have everything in there… Does the job, great actress, won me over.

7/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

The aesthetic is suitably Christmassy but I’m seriously questioning the thought process behind this one – is Christmas just about the sheer amount of presents we give and receive?

2/10.

Natalie, Senior Account Manager:

For a minute I thought she had pulled a Tik-Toker’s ring light out of her bag and was about to switch off before I realised it was a light-up mirror. There was a bit too much going on here and it felt chaotic…

4/10.

Selfridges

James, MD:

Sorry, just did not get it. Poor production and some sort of Zoom presenter in the top left-hand corner?! I will not be shopping in Selfridges this year.

1/10.

Yaz, Head of PR:

Different and quirky in its format but the ‘buy all your Xmas presents here’ hook is lazy.

2/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

I think I liked this one, but it all happened so quickly, I am not sure what I just watched…

5/10.

Natalie, Senior Account Manager:

Short, snappy, and simple, I liked it! Love the lockdown dog reference…

7/10.

Asda

James, MD:

Tries to blend all the aspects and scenarios of Christmas together, which just doesn’t work. Bland with zero emotion.

3/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

Enjoyed the opening with the kids in the school pantomime but it just didn’t really go anywhere.

4/10.

Natalie, Senior Account Manager:

A little underwhelming and easily forgettable; not have much else to say on it…

4/10.

Argos

James, MD:

Grabs your attention right from the start and holds it. ‘Baubles to last year’ is spot on playing on the pants Christmas last year.

8/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

I wanted to love this as much as I used to love marking up the Argos calendar with what I wanted for Christmas, but I just didn’t.

4/10.

Natalie, Senior Account Manager:

Loved this one! A chaotic mix of 90s Christmas nostalgia (bring back the days of circling things in the Argos catalogues and OTT decorations!) with modern culture and technology. It felt like Christmas is “Back On” this year after a turbulent 2020…

7/10.

Sports Direct

James, MD:

You can see what they’re trying to achieve with this new entrant for 2021, but the ad sadly does not gel as they’re trying to squeeze in every sport on the planet and in-store!

6/10.

Elsa, Senior Account Manager:

Not a brand I associate with Christmas, but I liked the straight-forward concept.

7/10.

Natalie, Senior Account Manager:

After initially questioning how much they must have spent to get all those celebrities involved, I did think Sports Direct got it spot on. A realistic representation of Christmas among “normal” families (no over the top amounts of food and forced fun), with the excitement of snow enough to get even the biggest of Scrooges outside…

8/10

And the winner is…?

All hopes of having a stand-out winner for 2021 has clearly gone south for the winter; with the Rooster team providing mixed reviews for all ads.

Whether you loved M&S and Percy Pig, TK Maxx’s blue sparkly boots or Sports Direct’s wild-card entry, if this year’s ads have taught us anything it’s that Christmas is really what you make of it!

Want creative help marketing your brand before Christmas and into 2022? Get in touch here.