To the untrained eye, Christmas commercials may look like the easiest thing in the world to make. But striking the right balance between glittery schmaltz and the kind of genuine sentiment that will pull at viewers' heartstrings is one of the most difficult tasks you can embark on in adland.
With the holiday season upon us and Christmas ads taking over our screens, we've canvassed some of the industry's leading creatives and asked them to identify the commercials from this year's festival season that they think work best. Their selections may surprise you. Be sure to also grab this free festive wallpaper.
01. Mulberry: #WinChristmas
- Chosen by: Mark Goodwin, creative director at M&C Saatchi
The Mulberry film features a unicorn, so obviously it's brilliant. Everyone loves horny horses, don't they? Taking the annual present arms race as inspiration, a rather spoilt young woman is given an increasingly amazing array of presents, including the aforesaid unicorn.
Finally, everyone is trumped by Grandma's gift of a Mulberry bag.
Now it's all a bit unbelievable. I mean, a unicorn? Obviously that's going to be loads better than a handbag. But I love the way it tramples the convention that luxury ads must have a po-faced pomposity. Fashion can have wit. Let's face it, Mulberry sell bags for £2500 so someone is definitely having a laugh there.
02. Sainsbury's: Christmas is for Sharing
- Chosen by: Will Barnett, executive creative director at Adjust Your Set
Nine million YouTube views in four days, 174k likes on Facebook and 68k shares. Cynicism: 2k who see it as exploitative and commercial. For me, it's a moving tale told with sensitivity.
The 1914 story of a Christmas truce where British and German soldiers came together to play football. A gift of chocolate. (Available in store, the proceeds going to the Royal British Legion). The idea 'Christmas is for sharing'.
Powerful, emotive, beautifully shot cast and crafted, by the talented Ringan Ledwidge. Ultimately benefitting a charity. I noticed a high number of 'shares' by serving squaddies. Enough said. Merry Christmas.
03. Sky Movies: Step into the Adventure
- Chosen by: Clare McDonald, Executive Creative Director, Rosetta Europe
No one brings you Movies like Sky Movies, and nobody gives you huge budget campaigns like Sky. Reaffirming their ultimate position as the place for movies at Christmas: 'Step into the Adventure' exploits their prized relationship with Hollywood, brilliantly.
Custom scenes from Frozen through to Spiderman sent my kids into a complete frenzy and cemented their reverence for Sky. "OMG. Sky knows Elsa mummy!!" (Parents will understand the power of Elsa, as did clever Sky).
While most marketers can only dream of budgets this big, at least Sky invests it well to enable a magical Xmas and a future army of smitten fans.
Next page: the next four best festive ads of 2014