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Christmas 2016 ad campaigns: the Drapers verdict

The Tale of Thomas Burberry  Campaign  on embargo until 1 November 2016 8AM UK time

From John Lewis’s Buster the Boxer, to H&M’s snow train and M&S’s Mrs Claus – the Drapers team gives their verdict on the best Christmas ads of 2016, as well as those that left us feeling a little cold …

H&M Christmas 2016 ad

H&M Christmas 2016 ad

H&M Christmas 2016 ad

Joel Barrick, deputy production editor

My favourite of the current crop of Christmas ads is H&M’s. I’m a sucker for Wes Anderson, and this is very “him”, both visually and in storytelling.

It’s a simple tale, sweetly told, and it’s the complete opposite of hard sell. I assume everyone in the ad is wearing H&M clothes, but that’s about it – it’s nice that the message is “come together” and not “buy things now!”

Harvey Nichols Christmas 2016

Harvey Nichols Christmas 2016

Harvey Nichols Christmas 2016

Harriet Brown, staff writer

I’m usually head-over-heels for the John Lewis ad, but this year didn’t quite have the same magic – Buster the Boxer was cute, but no Monty the penguin.

The ad that won me over this time around was Harvey Nichols’ tongue-in-cheek “Britalia” ad. Not overtly festive and pleasingly quirky: cue cravings for panettone, limoncello and Valentino.

mrs claus

mrs claus


Jill Geoghegan, deputy news editor

M&S won the battle for best Christmas ad for me this year, hands down. The red coat (and helicopter), the sentimental sibling love and a hearty dose of girl power – what more could you need?

Sinead Ham, designer

H&M is my favourite bringing everybody together in a bad situation. Kind of fitting as most trains are terrible over Christmas time. Burberry’s is a beautiful video and very well shot … of course, it’s Burberry. I think Christmas is just dropped in at the end for good measure – there are only a brief few seconds at the end that they show anything remotely Christmassy. Doesn’t scream buy gifts at all to me. The focus is certainly more on the history. M&S’s is very Christmassy, and brings the story of Santa more up to date as she flies in on a helicopter instead of a sleigh.

On the other hand, House of Fraser is just a load of people dancing. Not much story to it. I’ve heard it too many times and want to change the channel already. I’m normally a big fan of the John Lewis Christmas ad but feel like it’s run its course now – too much hype around it and this year it wasn’t my favourite at all.

house of fraser christmas 2016

house of fraser christmas 2016

House of Fraser

Kirsty McGregor, head of content – news and features

M&S nailed it this year – Mrs Claus’s adventures manage to stay on the right side of being wholesome, without being sickly sweet. This is thanks largely to its casting (Janet McTeer is beautiful as Mrs Claus, but the boy who plays Jake really steals the show). It is well targeted at the M&S shopper and the product is prominent but not too in-your-face.

Buster the Boxer dog was lovely, but perhaps not as powerful as previous John Lewis efforts. Having said that, it wins the gong for best spoof – the version featuring the US presidential candidates had everyone in the Drapers office rolling about with laughter. Harvey Nichols also stands out this year, as it did in 2015. Its quirky Britalia campaign cuts through some of the more saccarhine Christmas ads.

Possibly the worst Christmas ad this year was House of Fraser’s. Its “Christmas is coming for you” strapline is sinister and the song choice is jarring.

Graeme Moran, head of content – fashion and features

While M&S’s Mrs Claus and John Lewis’s joyful dog on a trampoline certainly made me smile, it is H&M’s alternative Christmas that gets my vote. Film director extraordinaire Wes Anderson creates just enough Christmas cheer and tongue in cheek humour to stay on the right side of festive cheesiness for me.

farfetch christmas 2016

farfetch christmas 2016


Christina Simone, deputy editor

I am determined to learn the Farfetch Sugar Plum Fairy dance while I’m off. Look out.

Samantha Warrington, head of content production

Beautifully shot, artfully edited and suitably cast, Burberry’s “The Story of Thomas Burberry” is the worst ad this Christmas for its deceit. The brand-building narrative is competent – this is a good story well told. But why make it as a movie trailer? A vehicle designed to stoke the viewer’s desire and leave them wanting more. This cynical simulacrum is like a sumptuously wrapped Christmas gift that is empty inside.

Farfetch’s “Holiday Remix”, however, is a feast for the senses. The backstage warm-up scenes set against the tinkly Christmassy “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” soundtrack create a sense of hushed anticipation. This soon erupts into a pumping hip-hop dance sequence in which the dancers and their designer partywear take centre stage. Skilful dancers and energetic choreography shows off the product at its best. This ad certainly gets the party started.

  • Click here to see all the 2016 Christmas ads.

Readers' comments (1)

  • What about the rather charming and heart-warming Heathrow ad.....?? I guess it doesn't get a mention by Drapers because it doesn't advertise any clothes, but for me this had the spirit of Christmas down to a tee....

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