High Five in association withThe Immortal Awards

High Five: Christmas Special

Advertising Agency
London, UK
Associate creative directors at VMLY&R, Christopher Joyce and Perle Arteta, round up 2021's best festive ads in celebration of the holiday season

Writing a Christmas ad is no mean feat. You’ve got the complex business needs of the brief to fulfil, the challenge of making people fall in love with a story they aren’t immediately familiar with, all whilst retaining all the usual Christmas tropes that many would never forgive you for leaving out. Not to mention making our Mums at home cry-smile. But we think our selection below does just the trick. Whilst there’s sadly no dinosaurs dissing our kitchen tables, they’re all charming, bringing Christmas joy in their own special ways, and have some lovely executional treatments that earned them a coveted spot beneath our tree...

Amazon Prime - 'An Unlikely Friendship'

Agency: CYW
Production: Blur x Outsider
Director: Chris Balmond
Post: The Mill

If we’d been asked to predict the storylines we’d see this winter, we don’t think we’d have guessed this one in a million years. An unlikely friendship between a zoo keeper and a hyena, bonding over their favourite show (you don’t have to be ashamed of putting the product at the heart of your story when you do it this well, folks). And that’s why this is just so brilliant.

Barbour - 'Paddington, Please Look After This Bear'

Agency: Thinking Juice
Production & Post: Passion Pictures
Director: againstallodds
Sound: Pitch & Sync

In a world of completely nonsense collaborations, we’d like to congratulate the team behind this. Two iconic British brands that truly deserve each other, reminding us what Christmas is all about. It’s achingly charming, timeless and classy, and says all the right things about the product and brand. Borrowed interest? Maybe. But when it’s done this well, who can complain?

Coca-Cola - 'Real Magic at Christmas'

Agency: DentsuMB UK
Production: Rogue Films
Director: Sam Brown
Post: Selected Works
Editorial: Trim Editing
Music: SIREN
Sound: Factory Studios

Coca-Cola and pressure. This is the customary story about togetherness and sharing, but told in an incredibly fresh and imaginative way. We loved the idea of building a chimney throughout the community to connect each other - it’s a simple device but beautifully done and 'Christmas' through and through. It’s got strong ‘batteries not included’ vibes for some reason, which also helped pull on the ol’ nostalgic heartstrings.

Boots - 'Bags of Joy'

Agency: VMLY&R x The Pharm
Production: SMUGGLER
Director: Tom Hooper
Post: Rascal Post
Editorial: Whitehouse Post
Grade: Framestore
Sound: Gramercy Park Studios

We’d be remiss not to include this one, because we know the brief inside-out. If we’d missed out on Christmas these recent years, the salve would be there to remind us exactly what Christmas is supposed to look and feel like, and frankly, you won’t find a better example this year than this magical film. If you’re feeling like the Grinch, sit down with some of the mulled stuff and pop this on.

Vodafone - 'Give the Gift of Connection'

Agency: Ogilvy
Production: Academy Films
Director: Jack Driscoll
Post: The Mill
Music: Soho Music

This one is kind of a wildcard. It shouldn’t be - there should be more brands taking this kind of action at this time of year...but here we are. It’s not the most charming or joyful film on our list, though the subtle creative treatment of Santa reflections is just *chef’s kiss*. But it is Vodafone putting their money where their Christmassy mouth is. If your brand is all about connecting people, you’d be forgiven for showing off a cheesy film of people coming together at Christmas. But they go beyond that with a real strategic solution to help those most lonely at this time of year feel better connected. It’s a lovely cause and the spot does a perfectly good job of communicating it. Could it have been a little more emotional? Sure, see what they did in Hungary. But for us, it’s a demonstration of action, not just a story. More of this next year, please. Well done Vodafone.