We are counting down to a very different festive period this year, but despite uncertain times and strange circumstances the Christmas spirit is still in the air.

Brands have been coming out with innovative and adaptive marketing strategies to capture the mood of the nation and cut through the noise of the news.

Here’s our pick of the six top marketing campaigns that have stood out and got us all talking this season.

1. Tesco

Tesco has released its 2020 Christmas advert, encouraging shoppers to forget about all the “naughty” things they did in 2020. The tongue-in-cheek advert sees the supermarket tell customers that there’s no naughty list this year, and urges people to treat themselves – by buying their products, of course.

The film centers around Brits confessing to bad behavior, including giving dodgy haircuts and buying too much toilet roll during lockdown. We’re sure many of us can relate to some of these Covid confessions!

As an interactive addition to the campaign, Tesco has introduced a Snapchat augmented reality lens and a Facebook arcade game that allows customers to get behind the wheel of the delivery van.

Images from Tesco's 2020 Christmas Campaign

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Sainsbury’s has released three home video-style films showing conversations between family members in the present day. All instalments end with the tagline ‘Food is home. Home is Christmas.’ The ad is an ode to the power of festive fare in transporting us back to memories of our most treasured family Christmas moments. 

The home footage-style of the films contrast quite markedly with the expensive CGI approach to Christmas adverts that we’ve become used to, adding to the relatability and homeliness of this touching advert.

The campaign will run alongside the supermarket’s ramped-up ’Brighten a Million Christmases’ initiative, a £5m fund for more than 1,150 charity partners to help fight food poverty between 1 and 14 December. The campaign also encourages shoppers to donate food and other essential products or cash in-store and online. Sainsbury’s will match every donation and it hopes to raise around £8m for the cause in total. 

We absolutely love Sainsbury’s heartfelt Christmas campaign that revolves around the theme of family and nostalgia.

Image from Sainsbury's 2020 Christmas Ad

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KFC has introduced its first merchandise collection to help fans of their fried chicken share a bit of fun this Christmas. Available online, a portion of the sales of the ‘responsibly sourced’ beanies, jumpers and T-shirts will go to supporting young people across the UK via the KFC Foundation’s charity partner, Comic Relief. Of course, it does leave us with the question of who would choose to walk around with fried chicken legs emblazoned across their chests, but then again some people really do love fried chicken!

The fast-food chain has also unveiled a TV campaign to promote its new Christmas Gravy Burger box meal, including five 10-second adverts created in collaboration with Sky. These humorous ads parody three iconic films – Love Actually, Die Hard and Terminator. Because nothing says ‘Christmas’ like an indestructible killer robot.


Images from KFC's Christmas Marketing Campaign

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ASDA has chosen to focus on price this Christmas in a campaign that sees the return of its ASDA price positioning and pocket tap. At a time when many people are concerned about employment and their personal finances, this is likely to be an effective strategy. 

The TV ad sees the return of real-life ASDA shopper Sunny and his family, who previously featured in the retailer’s price re-launch and Halloween campaigns. It follows the family getting ready for Christmas, bringing to life key festive themes such as gifting and the big Christmas shop as well as the range available across meat joints, party food, BWS deals and decorations, in both the ASDA and George collections. 

In a poignant campaign, ASDA has also unveiled nationwide ‘Happy to Chat’ Delivery Driver’s badges to help combat loneliness, as well as offering free meals to children at their cafes throughout December. Another big brand choosing to give back this Christmas.

Image from ASDA's Christmas Campaign

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5.Virgin Media

Virgin Media has released the ‘Let’s do Christmas’ digital campaign. During an amusing campaign advert, a ‘wicked queen’ hides all the gifts leaving ‘Big Zuu’ and her Virgin Media engineer sidekick to go on a mission to rescue them.

The advert is a gift bonanza as the campaign includes rewarding customers with 25 days of prizes, including a £3,000 shopping spree at John Lewis, a year’s worth of Virgin Wines and weekend breaks away. On Christmas Day, one customer will also win a stay in a castle with their friends and family. 

Virgin Media has also partnered with The Big Issue to give a daily cash gift of £1,000 to a vendor of the magazine who will be local to the customer prize winner, and a partnership with Scope will offer disabled children access to Santa via a virtual grotto.

If that doesn’t warm your chestnuts this Christmas, nothing will.

Image of Virgin Medis Christmas Advert

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Celebrating its first ever major UK Christmas campaign, Deliveroo has released its ‘Christmas is On’ advert. The theme of the ad centres of the company’s promise to provide certainty through turbulent times, by providing a reliable fast food delivery service to its customers.

Throughout November and December, a new festive menu will be delivered exclusively by Deliveroo featuring a range of dishes from partnering eateries. The campaign also showcases the festive grocery favourites available for on-demand delivery from stores such as Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi and Morrisons.

Image form Deliveroo's 2020 Christmas Advert

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While some of these campaigns have tugged at our heartstrings others have used the power of laughter to persuade. Whether it be KFC or ASDA, the underlying theme of kindness and sharing in many of the campaigns capture important themes present throughout 2020. 

From chicken-themed jumpers to songs about gravy, this year’s Christmas campaigns show that despite a difficult year for many and the prospect of a Christmas like no other, there’s always something to celebrate at this time of year.

Pass the cranberry sauce!