Most Watched Christmas 2022 Ads to Inspire Your Creative Content Marketing for Christmas 2023
The festive period begins right after Halloween ends, but for creative marketers, it begins even earlier than that. As we head towards another holiday season, sometimes referred to as the Golden Quarter, we’re reflecting on last year’s most popular ads to provide some creative inspiration ahead of this year’s festivities.
Top 10 Christmas Ads on YouTube in the UK in 2022
Disney – The Gift
YouTube Ranking: 6m views and 10k likes.
Disney has shared a series of stories which began with From Our Family to Yours in 2020, followed by The Stepdad in 2021, and The Gift in 2022 as the final chapter. Each story shares the perspective of a young daughter living in a blended family.
This ad forms part of Disney's “ongoing commitment to inspire a better world through the power of storytelling.” The ‘From Our Family To Yours’ 3-year campaign has seen Disney commit support worth over $4m to its long-standing charity partner, Make-A-Wish® International and its global network of Affiliates. $100,000 of that amount was funded by Disney’s $1 donation for every social media post shared by fans showcasing their festive memories with #LoveFromDisney.
John Lewis – The Beginner
YouTube Ranking: 4.3m views and 22k likes.
This famous John Lewis Christmas ad is noted as the year’s most watched Christmas ad in the UK on televisions. The brand is known for producing tear-jerker advertisements with unexpected endings. The Beginner ad cuts through the marketing noise by telling a unique and powerful story in collaboration with Action for Children, Home-Start, and Who Cares? Scotland. It highlights children in the care system and the lengths that prospective carers/adopters go to build rapport for the first Christmas holidays spent together.
This ad campaign is linked to the company’s Building Happier Futures fund which is dedicated to making a difference to youth in the care system. The program has raised over £1.1m, sold 125,000 charity-related products, and donated 1,500 food parcels.
Aldi – Kevin the Carrot
YouTube Ranking: 4.3m views and 4.1k likes.
Aldi’s ad is a light-hearted parody of the Christmas classic Home Alone. The story skilfully weaves in their charity partnership in their animated ad. The narrator’s voice is akin to Father Christmas himself, ending off the ad by saying “Let’s make Christmas amazing for everyone.” It also stars Kevin the Carrot who has featured in these ads for 6 years and counting. Each year, the story continues, with YouTubers eager to see what unfolds next.
Asda – Have Your Elf a Merry Christmas
YouTube Ranking: 2.4m views and 12k likes.
Asda has also borrowed from a Christmas classic, but they've taken it one step further by rotoscoping Will Ferrell’s character from one of the season's most popular films, Elf. In the ad, Elf is on probation at Asda, causing havoc with the staff and customers and then redeeming himself by decorating the store overnight.
It is also the first time that Elf has appeared in an ad. Considering the flick is 20 years old, the rotoscoping and cinematography, along with iconic lines from the original were sure to bring a bit of festive cheer to a multitude of Elf fans. While this is a TV ad, Asda asks YouTube viewers to share their favourite bit of the ad in the comments.
The ad campaign was supported with in-store merchandising and products. Asda also introduced charitable campaigns to assist those in need, which included toy collections, Asda cafés £1 meal-deal for kids and senior citizens, and supporting local choirs and bands in their stores.
Sainsbury’s – Once Upon a Pud
YouTube Ranking: 408k views and 2.5k likes.
Sainsbury’s takes a more traditional approach in their Once Upon a Pud Christmas ad which features a couple of UK national treasures Steven Fry (voice) and Alison Hammond. The ad, coded with purple and gold in the costumes as an ode to the brand, implies that when you “taste the difference” of Sainsbury’s Christmas pudding, you’ll declare your love for it.
Morrisons - Farmer Christmas
YouTube Ranking: 231k views and 1.3k likes.
Morrisons produce a playful take on a festive story to show what’s at the heart of Christmas traditions and at-home heroes. A farmer takes on the magical role of “Farmer Christmas” as he rises around on his sleigh-turned-tractor to produce food for the festive feast while associating the brand with local farmers.
The YouTube description simply says that it is “the only supermarket to be officially approved by Farmer Christmas.” The Christmas ad forms part of the company’s support for British farmers who only sell 100% fresh British meat and use British flour in their bakeries. They’ve also offered farmers discounts for shopping with them, and reduced prices of seasonal pork to alleviate pressures.
Morrisons also gave 250,000 Christmas cards to children to colour in and write messages to share with their loved ones to combat loneliness within communities.
Boots – Joy For All
YouTube Ranking: 230k views and 723 likes.
This ad is inspired by the film “They Live,” where the character wears glasses that reveal the true messages in ads. In the Boots ad, this special pair of glasses reveals the festive spirit all about as the main character bestows gifts upon her friends. There are quite a few ‘easter eggs’ (clues) in this ad as well which link back to the original inspiration for the ad. Customers could also experience the ‘Joy for All’ film for themselves by purchasing magic 3D Christmas in-store for £2, with 50p going to The Prince’s Trust.
The ad showcases a range of gifts that bring “Joy For All,” all of which can be shopped under one roof at Boots at affordable prices. The integrated campaign starred BAFTA-nominated British actress Lydia West and was featured widely across radio, print, and in-store mediums to name a few.
Boots also became the first UK brand to use the TikTok Story Selection format, allowing users to select which ad they see based on who they’re shopping for more personalised targeting. They also produced an AR-filter with Meta to help people find the perfect gifts.
The company had its most sustainable Christmas yet with a reduction in plastic usage and offering more eco-friendly products to customers.
Tesco - The Christmas Party
YouTube Ranking: 114k views and 575 views.
In this ad, Tesco restores joy by broadcasting a manifesto from a made-up political organisation called The Christmas Party that pledges “more pigs-in-blankets, more hats on dogs, and, most importantly, more for your money.” This ad places emphasis on value and family by solving “the things that really matter” and standing for joy over the Christmas holidays.
Their previous Christmas ad resulted in 1,500 complaints for depicting Father Christmas with a covid passport. There were calls to boycott the company and questions raised about its agenda, which inspired the concept for their 2022 ad. “We respect everyone's views and we know that Christmas is a hugely important time for many of our customers and, after last year's events, that is truer now than ever” said Tesco.
Lidl – The Story of the Lidl Bear
YouTube Ranking: 100k views, 465 likes.
Lidl promotes the Lidl Bear's Toy Bank in this ad, saying “In the face of unrealistic Christmas expectations and pressure, we know what really matters is being with the people we care about.” The ad features a story about the bear’s rise to fame and making it back home and not allowing the fame to get to its head.
Rather than selling a product, the ad encourages viewers to drop off new toys at their stores to join their campaign. The toys were gifted to local charities, food banks and community groups in the Neighbourly network. Lidl also provided £125,000 in funding to the Lidl Bear Toy Bank.
M&S – Gifts that Give
YouTube Ranking: 91.8k views and 904 likes.
The Gifts that Give ad by M&S is based on gift-giving and how families can contribute towards supporting others. The storytelling includes an element of mystery as it shows a community coming together after a tough couple of years.
“When you give – it means we can, too,” says M&S as they donated £1 million in its Clothing & Home Christmas campaign with The Neighbourly Foundation. M&S became a founding partner of Neighbourly in 2015. The Foundation administers grant programmes and responds to emergency needs within local communities in the UK. The Gifts that Give campaign reached 1,000 local community groups, with some of the beneficiaries being featured in the ad as well in a celebration of togetherness.
There you have it, a recollection of last year’s most popular TV ads, ranked by their performance on YouTube. Which one was your favourite? And if your team is working on a Christmas ad, will it make it to YouTube? The team at Imperial Leisure will be keeping an eye on this year’s top performers, with YouTube expected to be a popular medium for Christmas ads.
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