TV & Movies

A Definitive Ranking Of The 2021 Christmas Adverts

Vaccinated santas, alien visitors, & a fugitive Cuthbert the Caterpillar. It’s been a wild ride.

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Nothing says “Christmas is finally here!” quite like big-budget television adverts designed to leave you feeling teary-eyed, emotional, and in the mood to buy a whole bunch of stuff. Whether they include a solemn cartoon bear and a weepy Lily Allen soundtrack or doe-eyed children saying goodbye to imaginary friends, we eagerly await festive productions from the UK’s major supermarkets every year, in the hope to feel a semblance of the Christmas spirit (or at least feel hungry for Christmas dinner).

Christmas 2021 has been no different and the festive adverts this year are back and cheerier than ever. But, let’s be honest, some are definitely better than others...

It’s a tough call. This year, the likes of Tesco, Aldi, and Waitrose, and more are mixing things up, and the adverts range from the silly to the sentimental to help capture some festive magic in a post-lockdown world. And, the supermarkets have gone all out creatively (well some...), featuring everything from cartoon carrots to a vaccinated Santa to an alien with vehicle trouble. Getting into the spirit, I’ve put together a definitive list of this year’s supermarket Christmas adverts, starting with my favourite –

1

Aldi

Aldi understood the Christmas assignment this year. For its fruit and veg take on the classic novel A Christmas Carol, the advert features a snowman-smashing banana, “Ebanana Scrooge”, a visit from Kevin the ghostly carrot, before learning Christmas is a time for “peas and goodwill” with a little help from footballer Marcus Rashford aka Marcus Radish-ford. Not only does Aldi pledge to donate 1.8 million meals to families over the Christmas period, the ad includes so many festive vegetable puns to enjoy and – best of all – a nod to the Cuthbert versus Colin legal battle with M&S. Bravo, Aldi, bravo.

2

Tesco

In Tesco’s “Nothing Stopping Us” advert, Santa Claus is at risk of being quarantined but, hooray! he’s been double vaxxed and has a pass. It’s a sentence that would not have made sense a few years ago, but the cheery ad cleverly touches on current “unprecedented times” while being extremely optimistic. Plus it’s set to Queen’s ultimate bop “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

3

JD Sports

Few Christmas adverts are solely geared at the “youth of today” but JD Sports were more than clear about its target audience, with a London-city-based advert featuring UK’s coolest Nike-tracksuit wearing young celebrities. Maya Jama, Aitch, Little Simz, Jadon Sancho, KSI and more (oh, my!) star in the big-budget Christmas advert, which features less tinsel and snowy hills, and the more relatable last-minute shopping and slippery slushy ice on city streets. It’s very cool, in a way other ads fail to achieve. Plus, it serves as a reminder to all the teens tasked with picking up the turkey this year: try not to leave it until the shops close.

4

Waitrose

This Christmas, Waitrose is getting real: the best part of Christmas is the food. No arguments. In the ad, Extras actor Ashley Jensen represents the inner voice of those among us who would happily palm off Waitrose mince pies as their own creation and unashamedly eat ALL the stuffing with zero regrets (me, basically). Unlike other tinsel-topped ads, I appreciate that Waitrose skips right to the good bit: dinner time.

5

McDonald’s

Ask any parent, kids love McDonald’s. This year, the fast-food chain tugs at the heartstrings of any parent watching their child “grow up to fast” with its new advert. It sees a little girl and her best imaginary friend Iggy grow apart as she turns into a young adult (and in heartbreaking scenes tucks Iggy away in her wardrobe). Somehow, with the help of a McDonald’s Happy Meal, she remembers her former companion. And, well, not since Toy Story have we felt so overcome with nostalgia for our imaginary friends. *sniff*

6

M&S

Tom Holland is the voice of Percy Pig. Need I say more? For the first time, they’ve animated the ever-popular sweet and let him run amok around the store. Did I mention Dawn French is a fairy?

7

Lidl

Lidl has gone with a futuristic theme this year. To emphasise that it will always be affordable, it sets a familiar scene with a jolly family during Christmas dinner... then sees it all play out again in the future (where clothes get progressively more obnoxious, apparently). Look out for all the excellent Lidl clothing merch.

8

Morrisons

To compete with old St Nicholas, Morrisons’ debuted “Farmer Christmas” for its ad, complete with a stylish red raincoat and well-groomed beard. While Santa has reindeer, Farmer Christmas has some shiny Morrisons delivery trucks, and his little helpers work down in the local stores, not in the North Pole. Admittedly Morrisons ran wild with its theme, but it’s a nice acknowledgment to all the hard-working farmers this Christmas.

9

John Lewis

Ah, John Lewis. You once got it so right. However, this year, the reigning champion of Christmas adverts has (once again) divided customers with its latest film “An Unexpected Guest”. The ad sees a very sweet kid discover a wide-eyed alien in the forest, who he eventually falls in love with and teaches how to eat a mince pie. After fixing its UFO, the alien leaves the planet and the boy is on the verge of tears — because what’s Christmas without a heartbroken child? Cute but ever so slightly predictable.

10

Iceland (Kinda...)

Um. Iceland, are you OK? Instead of making its own TV ad this year, Iceland decided to spoof John Lewis’ ad instead. Using what looks like college-level photoshop skills, they hilariously replaced the John Lewis alien’s face with a large Space Invader Potato Face. The message? Well, you can find space invaders in the freezer aisle during your next shop...

11

Sainsbury’s

Set to the sultry tones of Etta James’ “At Last”, Sainsbury’s new ad urges us to savour this year’s festivities because it’s been a “long time coming.” Agreed. The ad is simple, upbeat, and a great reminder of the true reason for the season: family, of course.

12

Asda

Asda could be accused of skating by with its 2021 Christmas ad. It sees a family quite literally ice skating through the festive season, from the school play to Christmas parties. Is it a top contender this year? Sadly not. But it’s a cute idea nonetheless.