We’ve previously looked at some of the most iconic Christmas ads in recent history, but what makes these so memorable? We’re exploring some common themes from top retailer adverts at Christmas time to uncover the winning formula.

A memorable song

As the Christmas adverts roll in, so do the unusual cover songs. This year, John Lewis has used a version of REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’, performed by Bastille.

Twisting this 80s classic into a Christmas hit, John Lewis is not the only retailer to give a well-known song a festive makeover. Last year, Sainsbury’s used New Radical’s ‘Get What You Give’ sung beautifully and so sweetly by a little girl as part of her school Christmas play.


Christmas is fundamentally about family time, and so retailers will often put families centre stage in their Christmas ads. This year, Dunelm has followed its usual theme of using real families, this time to showcase its Christmas décor range. Using real families talking about their own experiences of Christmas provides a relatable element, especially when they talk about the chaos of Christmas with little ones!


Many adverts call upon emotive nostalgia within their festive advertising. An example of this would be Tesco’s 2019 Christmas advert, which continues the supermarket’s celebration of 100 years in business. We see a delivery driver sucked into the past, delivering party food to an office gathering in the 70s, finishing the ad with the driver at a 90s rave.

Using nostalgia in adverts feeds consumer passion for the past – many of us think back fondly to Christmases gone by, and more generally to simpler times. With this Christmas set to be the most politically charged in our generation, it’s no wonder nostalgia is playing a big part in the Christmas advert offering of 2019.

A lovable character

Kevin the Carrot from Aldi, Excitable Edgar from John Lewis, Paddington used by Marks and Spencer, Mog used by Sainsbury’s – what do they all have in common? They are all totally adorable and have all been created (or borrowed) for retailers’ Christmas campaigns.

We want to feel all warm and fuzzy as we get ready for Christmas, and nothing does that better than a cute character, often in need of a little help.

From a catchy song that becomes the soundtrack of the season to a walk down memory lane, we’ve taken you through the formula for a winning Christmas ad. What’s your favourite so far this year? Tell us in the comments below.