Christmas adverts, much like mince pies, cold weather and sugary-flavoured hot drinks, are an indisputable marker of the festive season. We know there’s nothing to get you into the spirit quite like re-visiting the best ones of 2022 so far, so today we’re taking a look at the Christmas campaigns leading the way for Gen Z and share what you, as youth marketers, can learn from them.
7 engaging Christmas 2022 campaigns
Perhaps the most long-awaited advert of 2022, John Lewis dialled down their messaging this year to tell a heartwarming story about the foster care system. Amidst the rising cost-of-living, this advert was a grounded contrast to the traditionally indulgent adverts that often populate screens at Christmas.
For Gen Z, the John Lewis advert is an iconic signifier for festive calendars – and despite the retailer’s target audience being slightly older, the advert garnered a massive amount of conversation and praise from young consumers. On TikTok, searches for ‘John Lewis’ soared into the millions, whilst many Gen Z influencers filmed themselves live-reacting to the advert (yes, there were tears involved).
@samcornforth *Re-considers gifts for entire family* 👨👧👦👩👧👦 #johnlewis #christmas #blindreact #relatable #fyp #viral ♬ original sound – Sam Cornforth
Coming in at a hot second place is this year’s Jack Wills Christmas campaign. A British brand formerly recognised for preppy clothing and name-adorned accessories, Jack Wills has had quite the character arc in the last couple of years. These days, it’s a brand best known for being worn by the UK’s hottest influencers – even taking a group to Ibiza this summer in partnership with TikTok. This year’s campaign depicts Gen Z Christmas opulence at its best, with a star-studded cast (including Olivia Neill and Jack Joseph) throwing the ultimate party complete with glitter, balloons and a thumping backing track from Charlie XCX.
@jackwills ‘TIS THE SZN 🎉✨ The party has arrived! Get ready to deck your winter wardrobe with our ultimate festive looks 👀 🤩 #JackWills #TisTheSZNFeaturing: @olivia neill @jackjos3ph @victor.kunda @edie liberty rose and @CuRLY 🙂 ♬ original sound – Jack Wills
Holidays are coming…
It wouldn’t be Christmas without the iconic Coca-Cola van. This campaign first graced our screens in 1995; and over 20 years later, it still gives us that warm fuzzy feeling. This year, the Coca-Cola van embarks on its ninth tour, spreading Christmas cheer to 33 cities across the US and Canada. Despite the longevity of this campaign, Coca-Cola has found ways to stay innovative. This year, it introduces the ‘Holiday Hub Digital Experience’, allowing consumers to have an AR experience with Santa himself (though Gen Zers might be a little sceptical on this one…). Coca-Cola joins many other brands that are shifting their focus to emerging technology such as AR and the Metaverse for a competitive advantage.
This year’s Disney advert followed a similar trajectory to John Lewis by reining in traditionally-consumerist Christmas messaging in favour of a purposeful, charitable feel. Disney partnered with the charity Make-A-Wish for the third-instalment of the ‘Lola and The Stepdad’ mini-series, which you can watch below.
Despite being a little older than Disney’s target audience, Gen Zers around the world loved the advert. Many flocked to Twitter to share their reactions, whilst others labelled it ‘the best Christmas advert of all time’. Moreover, as the world faces a global cost-of-living crisis and economic uncertainty, Disney’s advert focused on finding joy in the smaller things – and its wide appraisal and recognition (alongside John Lewis) shows it hit exactly the right notes.
For Gen Z, M&S often conjures thoughts of school uniforms, jumpers and pricy (but delicious) food. However, with the release of their 2022 Christmas advert, the tide might just be changing…
Directed by none other than the filmmaker behind ‘The Greatest Showman’, Marks and Spencer showed they were unlikely Harry Styles stans by featuring his song ‘Treat People With Kindness’ as their ad soundtrack. If M&S wasn’t on the map for Gen Z before, then it certainly is now.
@marksandspencer I love you for using Treat People With Kindness by Harry Styles in your Christmas Advert— ◟̽◞̽ (@KaylieBennett2) November 4, 2022
Many flocked to TikTok to express their delight, with others saying they were converted to the M&S brand as a result. This advert comes as part of M&S’ digital overhaul to reach younger consumers, with the brand adopting live-video shopping in 2020 and investing heavily into a renewed omnichannel strategy.
@ciaraiscooler THE FIRST TIME I SAW IT I WENT FERAL #harrystyles #christmas #marksandspencer ♬ tpwk sped up – autumn <3
JD Sports knows their target audience is Gen Z, and every year, they show us exactly how far they’re willing to go to get them engaged.
This year, their #KingOfTheGame Christmas campaign featured an unbelievable lineup in an action-packed advert soundtracked by grime legend Kano. With famous faces including KSI, Anthony Joshua, Amelia Dimoldenberg, Bugzy Malone and Harry Pinero making an appearance, this campaign drew on some of the most notable faces shaping UK youth culture today. And, the graft didn’t go unnoticed. In fact, the advert drew record-breaking levels of Gen Z engagement, with #KingOfTheGame trending on both TikTok and Twitter. This advert is another big win for JD, who are known for their influencer marketing and partnerships with some of the biggest names in the Gen Z world, including Youtuber Chunkz and Love Island’s Chloe Burrows.
7. Ann Summers
Regardless of whether it’s Halloween, Christmas or Easter, Ann Summers knows how to successfully execute a campaign. This Christmas, Tasha Ghouri joined fellow Love Island alumni Maura Higgins to become the new face of their festive marketing campaign. Tasha previously received praise from Gen Zers for her Y2K dress sense and renouncement of fast fashion following her partnership with eBay. Tasha shared that she was drawn to Ann Summers for their diversity and inclusion – something we know is important to Gen Zers from the insights collected in our Inclusivity in the Fashion and Retail Industry report. We’re excited to see how this partnership pans out, and are all for celebrating the empowerment of women and inclusivity of the brand, with Tasha representing the first deaf ambassador.
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[Cover image 📸: Coca-Cola]