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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best creativity magazine in the UK“, a new study has revealed the most successful Christmas adverts of the 21st Century – with John Lewis’ 2013 ad “The Bear and the Hare” crowned number one.

Most Successful Christmas Adverts

Ah, the festive season. A time for twinkling lights, roaring fires, and… tear-jerking Christmas adverts?

That’s right, folks. Over the past few decades, the humble Christmas advert has evolved into an art form, weaving tales of love, loss, and heartwarming moments that leave us sniffling into our mince pies. But beyond the emotional rollercoaster, these ads also serve a crucial purpose: selling, selling, selling!

In this blog, we’ll be diving headfirst into the world of the most successful Christmas adverts of the 21st century. We’ll explore the campaigns that captured our hearts, emptied our wallets, and set the bar for festive advertising. Prepare to be enchanted, amused, and maybe even a little bit manipulated (but hey, that’s the magic of Christmas, right?).

QR code generator and marketing experts at QRFY.com analyzed the total number of YouTube views and, where applicable, the total number of Spotify plays, before calculating an average number of hits across both platforms to measure their total impact.  

The Bear and the Hare

Taking the top spot was British department store John Lewis’ 2013 ad “The Bear and the Hare” which amassed an average of 192,000,000 hits across both platforms. 

“The Bear and the Hare,” is considered a masterpiece of Christmas advertising. It tells the heartwarming story of a lonely bear named Barnaby and his adventurous friend, a hare named Hazel.

As winter approaches, Barnaby prepares to hibernate, leaving Hazel to face the cold months alone. Hazel, however, is determined to keep his friend company. She embarks on a journey through the snowy forest to find Barnaby the perfect Christmas gift: an alarm clock to wake him up in time for Christmas.

The ad beautifully captures the spirit of friendship and the importance of togetherness during the holidays. It’s visually stunning, with hand-drawn animation that evokes a sense of nostalgia and warmth. The accompanying music, a cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” by Lily Allen, adds to the emotional impact of the story.

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A Tribute to Givers

In second place was John Lewis with the 2010 commercial “A Tribute to Givers” which generated an average of 111,000,000 hits

The ad showcases various scenes of people giving selflessly to others, big and small. We see a baker giving a free pastry to a homeless man, a young girl sharing her toys with a toddler in the park, and even a snowman offering his coal heart to a lonely snowman couple.

The ad masterfully captures the emotion of giving through its simple yet heartfelt storytelling. There’s no dialogue, just a gentle piano melody and Ellie Goulding’s beautiful cover of Elton John’s “Your Song.” The focus is entirely on the acts of kindness unfolding on the screen, each one touching our hearts in its own way. But what truly elevates “A Tribute to Givers” is its message. It encourages us to look beyond the commercialism of Christmas and remember the simple joy of making someone else happy. It reminds us that every act of kindness, no matter how small, can make a difference in someone’s life.

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Man On The Moon

John Lewis also ranked third, with the 2015 advertisement “Man on the Moon” reaching an average of 56,000,000 hits for Aurora’s cover of “Half the World Away.”  

The poignant ad revolves around an old man named Tom, who gazes longingly at the moon from his rooftop garden. Through flashbacks, we learn he was part of a team that built the rocket that sent the first man to the moon, but he never got to go along. He’s haunted by what could have been, feeling isolated and alone on Earth while his dream remains out of reach.

Everything changes when his granddaughter, Lily, brings him a telescope for Christmas. As they peer at the moon together, Tom finally shares his story with her. Lily, with her childlike wonder and infectious enthusiasm, reignites his passion for space. We see Tom tinkering with rockets, building models with Lily, and reconnecting with his past.

The ad beautifully portrays the power of dreams and the importance of passing them on to future generations. It’s a poignant reminder that it’s never too late to chase your dreams, even if they seem out of reach.

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Christmas Miracle

In fourth was Canadian airline WestJet, with the 2013 ad “Christmas Miracle” attracting an average of 50,000,000 hits.  

The heartwarming video is a true holiday gem, bursting with heartwarming surprises and festive cheer. Imagine stepping onto a plane on Christmas Eve, expecting a routine flight, and then experiencing a whirlwind of personalized gifts, joyful singing, and Santa himself! That’s what WestJet delivered to unsuspecting passengers on one magical flight from Calgary to Toronto. 

The magic didn’t stop there. The cabin crew burst into a heartwarming rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” complete with festive costumes and infectious smiles. Even the pilots got in on the act, leaving personalized messages for each passenger as they disembarked in Toronto.

WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” wasn’t just an ad; it was an act of genuine kindness and holiday spirit. It captured the true magic of Christmas: spreading joy, creating unexpected moments of happiness, and showing people they’re loved and remembered. This wasn’t about marketing; it was about creating a lasting memory for hundreds of passengers and reminding everyone that Christmas is about so much more than presents.

What Would Christmas Be Without Love?

Austrian bank Erste Group rounded out the top five with the 2018 ad “What Would Christmas Be Without Love?” averaging 45,000,000 hits.  

The animated ad revolves around Henry, a little hedgehog with big dreams. Unlike his peers, who are content hibernating through winter, Henry longs to experience the magic of Christmas. He sets out on a journey to the “Big Forest,” convinced that Santa Claus lives there and can make his Christmas wish come true.

Along the way, Henry faces numerous challenges. He gets lost in the snow, encounters a grumpy badger, and nearly gives up on his quest. But through it all, he’s guided by the kindness of others: a wise owl who provides directions, a playful squirrel who offers companionship, and a gentle deer who encourages him to keep going.

Finally, Henry reaches the “Big Forest,” but to his surprise, Santa isn’t there. Instead, he finds a group of animals preparing for Christmas together, sharing food, laughter, and warmth. He realizes that the true magic of Christmas isn’t about one person or one place, but about the love and connection we share with others.

Top Ten Christmas Adverts

      Rank     Advert name     Brand     Year of release     Average hits (YouTube views/Spotify plays) 
    1     The Bear and the Hare     John Lewis     2013     192,000,000 
    2     A Tribute to Givers     John Lewis     2010     111,000,000 
    3     Man on the Moon     John Lewis     2015     56,000,000 
    4     Christmas Miracle     WestJet     2013     50,000,000 
    5     What Would Christmas Be Without  Love?      Erste Group     2018     45,000,000 
    6     Homecoming     Edeka     2015     43,000,000 
    7     Mog’s Christmas Calamity     Sainsbury’s     2015     42,000,000 
    8     The Journey     John Lewis     2012     33,000,000 
    9     Monty the Penguin     John Lewis     2014     30,000,000 
    10     The Feeling     John Lewis     2009     28,000,000 

Christmas ads have become a big part of our culture, and these ads embody everything that makes Christmas so special. The emotive music, lovable characters. heartwarming narratives, and festive visuals have become iconic and often conjure feelings of joy and nostalgia. 

From a consumerist perspective, Christmas ads are important in driving sales and building brand loyalty as people seek gift ideas and do their Christmas shopping. Christmas ads are an incredibly effective marketing tool, and a successful Christmas ad is one that will resonate with viewers and leave a lasting impression. 

Ultimately, Christmas ads shape our holiday traditions, influence our gift choices, and create a sense of excitement and anticipation during the festive season. The online response to these ads signals how impactful they can be, and how ingrained they are in our cultural celebrations.

-spokesperson for marketing experts QRFY.com
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