‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ad team
Not a pointer was cropping, not even a mouse;
The PSDs were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
Designers were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of client approvals danced in their heads.”
Nothing like Christmas advertising to get you in a festive mood, right?
Look, we know the winter holidays aren’t quite as magical for people who create and run Christmas ads as they are for everyone else. All that pre-holiday rush can easily double down on the stress and pressure — especially when you have three campaigns to be delivered before Santa hits the chimneys.
We thought of making it all easier for you this year, so we’ve put together a quick guide on creating Christmas ads that sell, plus some of the jolliest Christmas advertising campaign examples to bring back the cheer and inspire you ahead of the season.
Curious to see them?
Read on and get your creativity going.
What Good Christmas Campaigns All Have in Common
Mistletoe and chubby Santas aside, we went down the rabbit hole and found what the best Christmas campaigns have in common (and what makes customers tick when it comes to Christmas ads.)
It all came down to the following:
Joy. Grace. Gratitude. The alleviation of loneliness. Cheerfulness. Charity.
Christmas can bring out the best emotions in us, and good advertising campaigns tap into that. They make you think of time well spent, cozy evenings, the excitement of giving and receiving gifts, the warm feeling of sharing joy with others – and sharing a bit of your luck with those unfortunate too.
Family and Community
Although it isn’t necessarily common to all Christmas campaigns, the idea of families and communities coming together to celebrate is quite prevalent among winter holiday campaigns. You can almost picture the table and the Coca-Cola bottle in the middle of it – or the social impact center bringing smiles to other people’s faces.
The “togetherness” trope built around Christmas campaigns is so common it can touch even those who have grown insensitive to advertising.
Good Timing & Good Offers
Good Christmas campaigns are well-timed to target all categories of shoppers. Some go out well ahead of Christmas for those who want to prep in advance. And others tap into the last-minute Fear of Missing Out (or, better put, Fear You Won’t Have the Gifts for Your Loved Ones before Christmas.)
Either way, these campaigns are usually backed by offers and discounts promoted so well you almost can’t refuse. “Get it before Christmas” and “Order now to get it before the 24th” have become standard – yet effective – messages for these campaigns.
Playing with Christmas Tropes, Rhymes, and Puns
There’s a seemingly endless source of Christmas puns out there. From playing with popular Christmas carol lyrics to playing with imagery connected to Christmas, you’ve got it all. Reindeer, snowy night, Santa Claus, the fireplace, the mistletoe – there’s a long list of Christmas motifs you can incorporate into your Christmas ad designs and copy to instantly make them festive.
By the way, we have many Christmas ad templates in Creatopy, too: get them, adjust them with the right messaging and offer, and you’re ready to go!
Oh, just in case you’re running out of Christmas poems and songs ideas, here’s a list of the top 60 most famous Christmas songs of all time to inspire you.
Charitable goals are ubiquitous among good Christmas ad campaigns. Sure, not all winter holiday campaigns revolve around charitable purposes – but those that do and combine creativity with their message almost always end up as everyone’s favorites.
We’ve got some of these Christmas campaign examples lined up below if you want to bag some inspiration and get ahead of the elves prepping for the festive season.
10 Christmas Ads Ideas to Inspire Your Programmatic Campaigns
1. Citroen, Merry Christmas, Slovakia
Sometimes, it can be as straightforward as playing a bit with the logo and bringing it home for Christmas, like what Istropolitana Ogilvy in Bratislava did with this ad.
Why we liked it: The simplicity. No bells and whistles. The fine layer of snow. The heartfelt “merry Christmas” (no capitalization.) The way the creatives played with the Citroen logo for this Christmas ad campaign.
Flawless execution. Nothing over the top, just elegance delivering a clean message.
2. The Unreal Xmas Shop
In 2021, Save the Children worked with B-Reel in Stockholm to launch an entire AR-driven website with a powerful message: Christmas is all about giving, but giving isn’t all about excessive consumption.
Why we liked it: It’s a clever, modern, techy campaign with a genuinely heartfelt message and a big goal: to help children in need. There’s nothing more perfect for Christmas than this.
3. Don’t Have a Stock Standard Christmas
Nobody likes boring stock images they’ve seen a thousand times before – but what happens when Ogilvy’s behind them and they have a charitable goal?
Ogilvy NY’s 2015 Christmas campaign revolved around stock images, but don’t go on deciding the world ended seven years ago, and Ogilvy gave in to the mainstream. The entire campaign had a bigger purpose: all the stock images were put up on Getty Images to help fellow creatives, and all the proceedings were donated to the World Childhood Foundation.
Why we liked it: All of it. The idea. The charitable goal. The nod to all the creatives out there.
4. You’ll Miss It When It’s Gone
Green Peace released this Christmas ad in collaboration with TBWAHUNTLASCARIS (South Africa) as a reminder that we’re all skating on thin ice (literally.) Although it’s not a Christmas ad per se, it’s an excellent example of how advertising can play with imagery everyone recognizes to send a powerful message.
Why we like it: That. The powerful message, the clean copy, the way it sends your brain exactly where it should be regarding global warming: urgency, desolation, sadness.
5. Wishing You a White Christmas
This Tide poster is wishing you a white Christmas, playing with the meaning of the word “white” and the idea of a stain shaped like a Christmas tree. Simple, to the point, and meaningful at the same time!
Why we liked it: Leaving aside the little Christmas tree (which looks cute for a stain on a white shirt), the play on the word “white” is quite intelligent too. The ad delivers a double-message everyone can get behind, so it gets a clap reaction from us.
6. Oh, What Fun It Is to Ride
At launch, this Budweiser campaign against drinking and driving was the biggest of the kind the company organized in the UK. Fun, witty, and to the point, the copy and the design take the message home very well.
Why we like it: It’s funny, catchy, and does the trick very well, reminding you not to drink and drive, no matter how festive the occasion may be.
7. Poverty Isn’t Fair
This Danish ad strikes straight to your soul, reminding you of what is really important about Christmas: charity. Created for LINDA.foundation, the ad features European banknotes with gates and doors that remain closed to children from impoverished backgrounds.
Why we like it: With scenery reminiscent of The Little Match Girl and Oliver Twist, this ad does exactly what it’s supposed to be doing: tapping into emotion.
8. ‘Tis the Season
We doubt anyone would want to keep their Christmas tree up until Easter or Cinco de Mayo, but this ad makes a brilliant suggestion: what if you could do that? What if there’s a product to prevent needle drop? (Spoiler alert, there is one, and it’s precisely what they’re advertising here.)
Why we like it: It’s smart and funny, and the imagery is spot-on. Plus, it plays with Christmas tropes in the context of other holidays, so it’s a win from a copywriting point of view too.
9. Smaller than a Horse
How to have fun with a Christmas ad in the automotive industry: take an electric car and play with Christmas imagery to create advertising that 1) stands out, and 2) puts a smile on your audience’s face.
Why we like it: This ad feels both magical and very intelligent at the same time: it gets technical specs slipped into the copy but wraps everything into a very Christmassy vibe.
10. What’s the Color of Christmas?
This Tiffany ad gets as close to pure genius as anything ever does. The beautiful simplicity, the nod to the power of the brand Tiffany has built, and the copy – they all do a fantastic job together. We all know Tiffany’s blue has nothing to do with Christmas, but Tiffany gifts do – so the ad works wonderfully.
Why we like it: This is minimalism at its finest.
4 Email Campaigns to Help Your Creativity Click
1. Happy Holidays from G2
Whoever said the world of B2B/ SaaS is boring? Just look at this little Christmas poem from G2; it’s festive, it’s fun, and it has a cool CTA. It doesn’t get better than this.
Why we like it: We can’t help it: we love a good play on Christmas poems.
2. 12 Days of Email Geek
OK, this one’s very meta, but we liked this email from EmailGeeks. It’s perfect evidence that you can deliver a Christmas campaign that fits your brand and tone of voice without going over the top.
Why we liked it: There’s a nod to the 12 Days of Christmas song, there’s Christmas motives in the design, and the brand personality is perfectly embedded in the entire thing. What’s not to like?
3. Make Everyone Very Merry
You have to admit, B2C e-commerce has it very good around Christmas. It’s not just that sales are usually surging — it’s also that if you’re an advertiser in this niche, the world is your oyster. Proof? This elegantly delivered email campaign brings together the cheekiness, the subtle, and the enticing CTA.
Why we liked it: The chic design, the “A certain Mr. Claus gets his ideas from us” subject line, and the “Oh! oH! oH!” copy all do a very good job of making this email feel as festive and luxurious as the products it’s promoting.
4. A Wine Christmas
When you sell wine advent calendars, you know you must deliver an elegant message with your Christmas campaign. This email from Good Pair Days brings the “fancy,” the puns, and the uniqueness of a luxury product together in a perfect cocktail.
Why we like it: They’re dreaming of a wine Christmas, which, you have to admit, brings about pretty nice imagery: snowy and cold outside, warm and fuzzy inside, all paired with good wine. One simple line, delivering perfection every time you sip on it.
BONUS: A Christmas Without Fixes
OK, this one’s for you: a creative card for clients and partners, made by Grandes Kochonos Digital, entitled (very suggestively) “A Christmas Without Fixes.” – which is precisely what Creatopy wishes you this year!
…And to all a good night!