Top 10 U.K. Christmas ads of the decade
1. John Lewis, "The Long Wait" (2011). The original John Lewis blockbuster, and still the best, is the story of a child who can't wait for Christmas—but not for the reason you'd expect. It was the first outing for the holiday dream team of Adam & Eve DDB and director Dougal Wilson, which set the tone for a decade of heartwarming fare set to inspired music choices. In this case, it's the Smiths' "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want."
2. Harvey Nichols, Sorry I Spent it on Myself (2013). The upscale department store created a collection of cheap holiday gifts, with the message that your hard-earned cash is far better spent on No. 1. The effort by Adam&Eve DDB won multiple prizes at Cannes.
3. Curry's PC World, "Spare the Act." (2015.) Jeff Goldblum gives acting lessons in how to react to awful holiday gifts with dignity. Black comedy from O Positive director David Shane and agency AMV BBDO.
4. John Lewis, "Monty's Christmas" (2015). Adam&Eve DDB and Dougal Wilson reunited for this delightful spot about a boy and his pet penguin. Not only did it warm our hearts, it boosted sales at the retailer and earned a Cannes Lions Effectiveness Grand Prix in 2016.
5. Sainsbury, "Official Christmas ad" (2014). The controversial recreation of the Christmas 1914 truce in World War I trenches divided critics (the Guardian called it a a "dangerous and disrespectful masterpiece.") But the ambitious film by AMV BBDO and director Ringan Ledwidge demonstrated top quality filmmaking and craft.
6. TK Maxx, "Sing Song" (2016). The retailer brought a surreal edge to holiday ads with this spot in which a family gathers, ostensibly to sing Christmas carols, but instead breaks into an a capella chorus of "Misirlou"—perhaps best known as theme music from QuentinTarantino's "Pulp Fiction." Andreas Nilsson directed the spot for Wieden & Kennedy London, which has subsequently produced a series of eccentric Christmas ads for the brand.
7. Heathrow, "Teddy Bears" (2017). A campaign for the London airport, in which two cuddly bears are eventually revealed to be grandparents, kicked off in 2016. The following year its spot was truly epic, with the story of the 50-year love story between the bears. Directors Dom & Nic worked with agency Havas London on the spots.
8. Marks & Spencer, Mrs Claus (2016). Actress Janet McTeer stars as Mrs. Claus, who's apparently content with being the perfect stay-at-home wife to Santa—but there's a feminist twist in this spot from agency RCKR/Y&R and "Les Miserables" director Tom Hooper.
9. Sainsbury, "Big Night" (2018). A super-cute effort by Wieden & Kennedy London and "Greatest Showman" director Michael Gracey, featuring an incredible school performance starring a cast of adorable elementary-age children. The child dressed as a plug who jumps straight into an outlet to light up the Christmas tree captured the public imagination, and was even invited to switch on one town's Christmas lights.
10. TalkTalk, "Christmas" (2017). Telecom brand TalkTalk stood out by doing something a little different for Christmas, with a fly-on-the-wall documentary about one family's December 25 experience, from the mom downing wine in the kitchen to everyone dozing in front of the TV. Tom Tagholm directed the film for CHI & Partners.