Christmas adverts then and now – 2020 vs 2021

(Posted on 10/11/21)

Christmas adverts then and now – 2020 vs 2021

2020 was a year like no other in living memory, and that was certainly continued through to Christmas. With regional lockdowns and restrictions in place for the number of people allowed to gather indoors (six) and on the amount of family allowed to stay overnight (0), last Christmas saw many families separated by distance unable to spend the special quality time together that the season usually brings. 

However, although this year has continued to be challenging, this Christmas promises to be full of joy and optimism, and this is certainly being reflected in this year’s new Christmas adverts. We’ve made a comparison of our top five 2021 Christmas adverts alongside last year’s adverts, to see how advertising has adapted to fit the current tone of the nation.


Very - ‘Christmas is this Very moment’ (2020) vs ‘It’s the very best excuse’ (2021)

While last year’s advert was more about celebrating the little things in ‘Christmas is this Very moment’, such as finding the joy in buying a Christmas tree far too big for the room (who doesn’t do this?) and of course giving gifts, this year Very has gone bigger and better than ever, mimicking how many of us feel like approaching this Christmas.

By winning the first Christmas ad of 2021 slot, pipping all other brands, Very has been singing its way across TV screens since 1 October. Set to the tune of Holly Jolly Christmas, the advert details how it’s ok to be excessive, because its Christmas. Afterall, ‘It’s the very best excuse’, and after everything the world has been and is still going through, we all deserve a very Merry Christmas this year.


John Lewis – Give a Little Love (2020) vs Unexpected Guest (2021)

John Lewis’s 2020 Christmas advert ‘Give a Little Love’ is a clever circular story, following many examples where people give a little love in random acts of kindness to strangers, who then in return pass on the goodwill to others.

The entertainment industry was one of those hit hard by the pandemic, and John Lewis also gave a little love to this creative sector by supporting animators and filmmakers in the design of the different styles seen across the advert.

While a bit of a departure from John Lewis’ usual tear-inducing emotional or funny adverts, this year’s ‘Unexpected Guest’ brings home the idea that we can all see this Christmas as something new. For many of us, it feels like we are experiencing Christmas again for the first time, and discovering the wonder of seeing friends again and being able to travel to see long-missed family.


Boots – What the World Needs Now (2020) vs Bags of Joy (2021)

Nothing quite shows the difficulties and austerity of 2020 than Boots deciding not to create a traditional Christmas advert. With many brands having had to close stores across the UK, perhaps Boots didn’t see the benefit of throwing money at a happy and festive campaign when so many who worked in retail were made redundant last year.

Instead, it ran the ‘What the World Needs Now’ campaign, which saw the retailer donating hygiene essentials to people living in hygiene poverty in the UK, with a donation of £1m worth of products to The Hygiene Bank. From singing bars of soap to toothbrushes and wipes to bath bombs and combs, Boots also invited customers to donate hygiene items to support those most in need.

However, Boots has returned with a traditional Christmas advert this year in ‘Bags of Joy’, featuring Jenna Coleman in a very Mary Poppins-esque style short. Being gifted by a new handbag from her Gran, Jenna proceeds to discover it is bottomless and pulls out a multitude of gifts for herself and her family which couldn’t possibly have all fit inside of it. It really is the gift that keeps on giving. And who couldn’t feel emotional seeing Jenna hug her Gran at the end of the ad? While many of us weren’t able to see elderly relatives last year, especially at Christmas, this moment feels super special for this year, and we can’t wait to do the same.


Lidl - Big On a Christmas You Can Believe In (2020) vs Big on a Christmas you can ALWAYS believe in (2021)

Last year, Lidl’s ‘Big On a Christmas You Can Believe In’ showed a tongue-in-cheek take on the style of Christmas adverts we’ve grown used to seeing over the last few years, thanks to John Lewis. Full of whimsy and magic, Lidl brings their advert back to reality with a bump throughout, with the focus really being on the great food available from Lidl at a great price.

Lidl has taken this premise one step further, and several steps into the future with this year’s advert ‘Big on a Christmas you can ALWAYS believe in’. This follows a family as they span the years into a potential look of Christmases of the future (terrible jokes and ineptitude with technology included). Even if we are one day carving the Christmas turkey with what is essentially a lightsabre, the heart of Christmas will always stay the same.


Argos – An Evening with AbracaDaisy & The Incredible Lucy (2020) vs Baubles to last year! Christmas is ON (2021)

Who hasn’t paged through the book of dreams of an Argos catalogue as a kid and dreamt of what you could do with a Chemistry set, or a perfume maker set, or in the case of the stars of Argos’ 2020 Christmas advert Daisy and Lucy, a magician’s set? As their imagination runs wild and the tricks get grander, AbracaDaisy & The Incredible Lucy go from performing just for their family in the living room to gaining a standing ovation in a packed grand theatre. This advert goes to show that anything could be possible with Argos.

Flashing forward to this year, and Argos hits the nail on the head in the premise of let’s forget last year and really focus on having the best Christmas ever. ‘Baubles to last year! Christmas is ON’ contains funny references to high-octane Christmas films, circling everything available in the Argos catalogue, going OTT on a festive office outfit, but maybe blow-torching a Christmas pudding isn’t

such a good idea…


If you want to discuss how you can best appeal to your audience this Christmas, get in touch to see how we can help you to celebrate this year and look forward to the next.