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Adland's Christmas showdown: Campaign readers' top 10 festive ads revealed

Which of the Christmas campaigns is the most popular? In a bid to find out, Campaign set up a poll asking people to vote for their favourite from a shortlist of ten. After 1,500 votes were received, James Swift took a look at the results.

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To see all of these ads and more festive creative, visit the Christmas ads 2013 page by clicking here

1 Sainsbury's Christmas in a day

Agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Creatives Phil Martin, Mike Hannett, Colin Jones

Director Kevin Macdonald

Production companies RSA Films, Scott Free Television
In the end, it wasn’t even close. Kevin Macdonald’s crowdsourced snapshot of Christmas across Britain stormed Campaign’s poll, taking 31.70 per cent of the vote. Not even the revelation that the ad featured products from another supermarket – The Co-operative – did any harm. Indeed, some argue that it just reinforces the spot’s authenticity. Of course, authenticity is not enough on its own, but the three-minute teaser film (the full 45-minute version was released on YouTube on 29 November) packs an emotional punch too. We won’t find out until January whether the ad did its job and boosted sales, but few would predict a New Year hangover.
Twitter reaction
@CJ_Riley_ just made me cry.! Best christmas advert
@NataliePoly The Sainsburys Christmas advert literally melts my heart
@elissakat3 Take note @johnlewisretail and @Tesco because @sainsburys have just shown you how to do a Christmas TV advert!

2 John Lewis the bear and the hare

Agency Adam & Eve/DDB
Creatives Aidan McClure, Laurent Simon
Directors Elliot Dear, Yves Geleyn
Production companies Blinkink, Hornet
John Lewis’ Christmas spot was the most anticipated ad in the UK. No-one can argue with that. Newspapers ran stories leaking the ad’s plot and soundtrack weeks before its release – no other brand gets that kind of treatment from the national press. Expectations are high and it’s hard to imagine the pressure on Adam & Eve/DDB’s creatives to maintain standards, but this year’s £1 million effort (and a £6 million media spend) was a fine one. Perhaps not quite as emotive as 2011’s "the long wait", but the new campaign is grander in scale, comprising an e-book, a window display, merchandise and even Twitter accounts for the characters. The spot appears to have done its job hustling in consumers too – John Lewis took £100.4 million for the week to 16 November, a 10.7 per cent rise on the same period in 2012. "The bear and the hare" is a worthy second place with 20.69 per cent of the vote.

3 Debenhams wishes made fabulous

Agency JWT London
Creative Ronnie Vlcek
Director Stuart Douglas
Production company Nice Shirt Films
John Lewis and Sainsbury’s always looked likely to fight it out for the top spots, but Debenhams has proved itself to be the best of the rest with 12.25 per cent of the vote. The ad eschews the sentimentality that John Lewis and Sainsbury’s have in spades and, instead, is a glitzy affair featuring models running around a snowy European city. More than anything else, people seem to approve of Debenhams’ choice of soundtrack – Youth by Foxes.

4 Aldi chocolate reindeer

Agency McCann Manchester
Creatives Dave Price, Neil Lancaster
Director MJ Delaney
Production company Moxie Pictures
Aldi’s Christmas campaign punches well above its weight when you compare its production spend with that of others on the list. The cheap and cheerful series of TV spots is a continuation of the supermarket’s existing campaign in which people compare branded products with Aldi’s own range. It doesn’t sound like much, but the ads have enough charm to earn fourth place on the list with 10.59 per cent of the vote.

5 Marks & Spencer believe

Agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Creatives Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss
Director Johan Renck
Production company Black Label
Ads don’t come any more glamorous than Marks & Spencer’s Christmas spot. The campaign – which took 7.96 per cent of the vote – features the actress Helena Bonham Carter and the models David Gandy and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, ensuring plenty of borrowed interest. It has all the ingredients to be a hit, but it didn’t work out that way in Campaign’s poll. Still, M&S must be used to underperforming by now.

6 Boots Christmas

Agency Mother
Creatives Mother
Director Jeff Labbe
Production company Sonny
Boots came in for a bit of criticism for the choice of soundtrack in its Christmas ad. Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy is about a boy who is rejected by his family for being gay, and many felt that using the song in a Christmas ad trivialised its message. Nonetheless, the spot, which shows a hooded youth stealthily delivering presents to people at night, proved moderately popular and earned a mid-table ranking with 4.91 per cent of the vote.

7 Tesco a family Christmas

Agency Wieden & Kennedy London
Creatives Sophie Bodoh, Dagmar Hoogland
Director John Crowley
Production company Tomboy Films
Tesco’s Yuletide spot was the favourite for 4.64 per cent of voters who took part in Campaign’s poll. The ad shows a family during the Christmas period throughout the decades. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, of course – except that Kevin Macdonald’s film for Sainsbury’s, which features footage of real families enjoying Christmas, made the Tesco one seem like the lesser cousin.

8 Asda you're better off at Asda

Agency VCCP Blue
Creatives Jonathan Thake, Mark Orbine
Director Alan Friel
Production company Park Village
There’s not a thrill or celebrity in sight in Asda’s Christmas ads, and that’s how the brand’s chief marketing officer, Steve Smith, likes it. When the campaign first aired, Smith said Asda preferred to invest in savings for the consumer – a deliberate salvo at rivals. The ads are just as belligerent, making claims about how Asda can beat its rivals’ prices. Bearing that in mind, 3.94 per cent of the vote is not bad going.

9 Morrisons go on... it's Christmas

Agency DLKW Lowe
Creatives David Adamson, Richard Prentice
Directors Marie Hyon, Marco Spier
Production company Smuggler
Morrisons’ position as the second-least-favourite Christmas ad on Campaign readers’ list may come as a surprise to those who expected it to be the sure-fire turkey of the bunch. But 2.35 per cent of voters picked the Ant & Dec-fronted festive tribute to Be Our Guest from Beauty And The Beast as their number one.

10 Waitrose the story of giving back

Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creatives Tom Evans, Oliver Courtney
Director Stuart Douglas
Production company Nice Shirt Films
Waitrose’s ad received the fewest votes at 0.97 per cent. As in previous years, the supermarket uses a Christmas spot to describe how shoppers can influence the good causes it works with. The ad, though lacking creative power, is nonetheless well-made. Perhaps people just don’t like to be reminded of those less fortunate than themselves during the festive season.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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