Heart-warmers & tear-jerkers: Our 5 favourite Christmas ads of 2021

Phil Kendall

Dec 2021 ⋅ 4 min read


With the British public spending roughly £80 billion each year in the run-up to Christmas, it’s no wonder big-name brands put so much time and effort into getting their festive ads just right.

While non-festive adverts usually try to dazzle with deals or seduce us with close-ups of shiny new products, Christmas ads lean more heavily on their narratives, weaving tales intended to elicit emotional responses from viewers and endear us to the brands they represent.

They’re also thoroughly entertaining and, for many, mark the real start of the festive season.

With this in mind, we’ve rounded up five of our absolute favourite Christmas ads of 2021 — some from brands right here in the UK, others from a little further afield — for your viewing pleasure.

From cheeky animations to live-action tear-jerkers, there’s something here for everyone. We hope you enjoy watching them as much as we did.

1. Celebrations: The Lonely Bounty

What it’s about

A Bounty — or rather a man dressed as one — searches for love and acceptance in a world where Bounty bars are routinely shunned in favour of pretty much any other chocolate found in a tub of Celebrations.

That is, until he receives an unexpected visitor...

Why we loved it

Set to the tune of "In the Bleak Midwinter", Celebrations’ festive ad is equal parts ridiculous, clever, and heartwarming.

Rather than shying away from the fact, the ad embraces Bounty’s reputation as everyone’s least-favourite chocolate, personifying the oft-shunned treat as a lonely heart searching for love online.

The play on Love Actually’s infamous doorstep scene featuring an equally lonely Brussels sprout is the icing on the Christmas cake.

2. Posten: When Harry Met Santa

What it’s about

This moving ad from the Norwegian postal service tells the story of a man named Harry and none other than Santa Claus himself, whose romance blossoms over the span of several years, a few stolen minutes at a time.

The story ends with the pair finally able to spend some quality time together thanks to the help of the postal service, who’ve taken care of a few deliveries on Santa’s behalf.

Why we loved it

Posten’s “When Harry Met Santa” celebrates the 50th anniversary of Norway’s decision to decriminalise homosexuality, proudly culminating with the on-screen message: “In 2022, Norway marks 50 years of being able to love whoever we want.”

Frankly, we couldn’t think of a more fitting message at Christmas, and, yes, this ad definitely brought tears to our eyes.

3. Shelter: The Drive

What it’s about

Homelessness charity Shelter’s Christmas ad depicts a mother attempting to drum up some Christmas spirit despite the desperate circumstances she and her daughter find themselves in: being forced to live in their car during the coldest months of the year.

Why we loved it

Shelter’s video won’t put anyone in a festive mood, but that’s precisely the point.

This quiet, understated ad subtly educates viewers that homelessness comes in many forms, and that the characters it depicts could easily be any one of us.

It’s absolutely heart-rending, and perfectly encapsulates the importance of giving rather than receiving at Christmas.

4. Coca Cola: Chimney

What it’s about

With Christmas fast approaching and his family home sorely lacking a chimney, a young boy decides to construct one out of cardboard boxes — bringing his local community together in the process.

Why we loved it

Coke might not be our first choice of drink to have with our Christmas dinner, but it’s hard to deny that its makers put together a cracking Christmas advert.

With its snow-topped roofs and “Chim-Chim-Cheree” soundtrack, Coca Cola’s ad is as festive as they come. It also does a great job of reminding viewers that, while presents are great fun, the real joy to be had at Christmas comes from spending it with others.

5. PENNY: Der Wunsch / The Wish

What it’s about

With neither party able to sleep one night, a mother and her teenage son sit at their kitchen table discussing what it is that she really wants for Christmas. Her answer? Pretty much every act of teenage rebellion imaginable — all of which her son has been missing out on during the pandemic.

Why we loved it

Sure, “The Wish” is a bit heavy at times, but this ad from German supermarket chain Penny is just the first part of a campaign designed to give back to Germany’s youth by offering young people the chance to win a variety of cultural and social experiences like backpacking trips and graduation parties.

It’s a great reminder that ads don’t have to exist in isolation — they can form part of wider campaigns that spark action and communicate a company's values to the world.

The ad itself is also beautifully put together, capturing the essence of those moments in every teen’s life — falling in love; dancing with friends; the first time you get your heart broken — in a powerful montage. It’s absolutely haunting.

Honourable mention: Aldi: A Christmas Carrot

We couldn’t really end this festive wrap-up without giving a nod to Aldi’s cracking Christmas ad.

Not only is “A Christmas Carrot” packed full of clever twists on Charles Dickens’ original novel (“Ebanana Scrooge”, anyone?) and modern cultural references including a cameo from “Marcus Radishford”, it also manages to be surprisingly poignant, reminding viewers at the very end that, in order to be happy, “you need to be kind”.

Nicely done, Kevin. See you next year!