Creative Industries


22 November 2019

Television may be the medium of choice for many brands to run their Christmas campaigns, but the most successful use social media platforms as well while some are eschewing 'The Box' altogether.

QUT associate lecturer in Social Media, Advertising and Communication Michael Klaehn said anticipation for the 2019 John Lewis ad out of the UK led to fever-pitch speculation, and bets taken, on who would be singing its tune.

“Last year John Lewis featured Sir Elton John; in 2019, we have Indie Pop group Bastille singing a REO Speedwagon hit from the 1980s - Can't Fight This Feeling – over animation of a cute dragon with a fiery problem. Within a week of its release on YouTube, the ad had more than eight million views,” said Mr Klaehn.



"It has competition this year from Selfridges Future Fantasy – A Christmas for Modern Times, a short movie with a Shakespearean/hip hop flavour. Directed by Nabil Elderkin, starring Noomi Rapace, Miguel, Daniel Arsham and others, it is definitely dividing opinion so therefore achieving its goal of being talked about and shared.

“Retail brands realise they don’t just need to have a 30 second commercial anymore and some aren’t even going to be on TV at all.

“The Christmas ads aren’t just ads anymore; they’re short films with a lot of product placement. Brands know the power of social media and the ability for people to share to their friends which equates to more potential Christmas shoppers.”

Mr Klaehn (right) said the big UK brands relied on that shareability of Christmas content and the fact that if there is something to talk about, such as who is in it or singing the track for it, an ad will perform better.

“That’s why the celebrity factor is as strong as ever in UK Christmas advertising. Mariah Carey has been engaged again for Walkers Crisps while M&S Food has a Christmas campaign featuring UK TV celebrities from Big Brother and Britain’s Got Talent plus a cute choir singing an arrangement of a Fleetwood Mac song. Meanwhile, Target features Sam Smith singing Donna Summer,” he said.



“The use of celebrities is not really a direction Australian brands go for. Our ads are more focussed on family values, cuteness, nostalgia and quirky humour. Our Aldi Christmas ads are always quite popular - this year’s effort – The Miracle Ham - is based on the insight Christmas hams tend to last forever; no matter how much is eaten there is still enough for days and days of sandwiches and salads. It does seem like magic and that’s what they have tapped into.”



Mr Klaehn said some ads can backfire when they try to be too clever or ‘out-of-the-box’.

Ikea has created its first ever Christmas ad with a soundtrack by East London grime artist MC D Double E. It doesn’t seem to be in the spirit at all - effectively shaming people into sprucing up their house with Ikea furniture probably isn’t the most effective sales technique,” Mr Klaehn said.



“What we have is a gang of trash talking toys and figurines. It doesn’t really feel like Ikea, which is a shame as they have a very strong history of great work.

“The British are the undeniable champions of the Christmas ad but this year it is an American ad that is my favourite: Frito-lay has totally rewritten “A few of my favourite things” – sung by the very likeable actor Anna Kendrick, and it’s sprinkled with all of their brands throughout the video. It’s cheesy sure, but it’s entertaining and if it helps these brands to sell a few more bags of chips per family then it’s worked.



“Another American ad that’s interesting is one for The Gap – it totally bypasses TV with a purely online campaign. I think we will see more of that as people shop less on the high street or in shopping centres and more via a digital device.”

Media contact:

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151,

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901,


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