Prepare to laugh, cry, and be full of festive wonderment

By Ruth Kinane
December 20, 2016 at 12:07 PM EST

‘Tis the season to rejoice when your favorite show breaks for commercials! It’s a short spell, but the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when all the big corporations roll out their holiday commercials, is a time to be cherished. Whether you’re laughing, sobbing (wait until you see No. 1 on our list) or rolling your eyes at all the nostalgia, it can’t be denied that — although they don’t always inspire consumers to go out and buy the product — holiday ads are one of the best parts of festive TV viewing.

Check out our compilation of this year’s best commercials from around the world. (If you’re short on time, skip to No. 1, but be sure to watch it all the way through — it’s that good.)


This entry comes from Germany and promotes the country’s largest supermarket corporation. It makes the list mostly for the moment the girl lops off her hair with some blunt scissors and the boy takes a dollop of mustard to the shoulder and, okay, fine, the general heart-warming message that Christmas is about being together, not having all the things commercials (ahem) say you must have.

15. Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany is here to make the world sparkle this holiday season. Their ad campaign features a black and white snowy New York City scene, beautiful women twirling in chiffon, and a whole lot of shimmering jewels. Then they throw in some really cute kids, just in case all the glittery diamonds aren’t aesthetically pleasing enough.  

14. REWE

It’s the battle of the German grocery stores. EDEKA’s was good, but REWE’s is better. Comically rewriting the lyrics of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” to fit the theme of a dreaded mother-in-law coming for Christmas dinner? Brilliant. “First I was afraid, I was petrified/ Thinking I could never make a festive meal with pride.” It’s a little odd that the song is in English and the dialogue in German, but the delicious-looking meal at the end makes me want to shop at REWE nonetheless.  

13. Cartier

There’s tribal music, huge watches floating above famous landmarks around the world, and the Cartier Panther prancing around with some red firework-like sparks… Um, yeah, maybe this one deserves a lower spot on the list. What can I say? The promise of oversized jewelry won me over.

12. Sainsbury’s

British supermarket Sainsbury’s always put in a good effort with its Christmas commercials and this year is no exception. It follows a cute, animated family man struggling to get ready for the big celebration and delivering these universal truths: “There’s a queue for the queue!” and “There’s a party at work and the manager’s twerking inappropriately.” Yes, it goes on a little long, but it’s hilarious and adorable and once more delivers that good old message, “If you feel like you’re spread too thin this time of year, develop a clone.” Wait, what? 

11. Macy’s

Macy’s is pretty much synonymous with the holiday season so it’s no surprise their commercial delivers like Santa on Christmas Eve. The ad takes us through decades of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades gone by, following a Santa balloon’s journey through time and then fields when it breaks loose of its ties. Not enough magic? There’s kids and elderly folks in there.  

10. Apple

Apple is all about iNclusion this holiday season. Their entry sees a frightening Frankenstein experience the acceptance and love generated by the holiday spirit when he visits his village’s Christmas tree. After initial gasps — perhaps more at his attempt at singing carols than his appearance — a little girl in the crowd steps up to sing with him and soon everyone else follows suit. Oh, and the characteristic bolts in his neck are replaced by Christmas lights. “Open your heart to everyone.”

9. Mercedes Benz

There’s no snowstorm harsh enough to stop a first date from happening… if you drive a Mercedes Benz. The young lovers are cute in this one, as is the parental dedication, but the best part might be the “professional driver on closed course” disclaimer at the bottom of the screen during the snowy driving scene that brings us back down to earth ever so slightly. 

8. Kia

Nothing like an attractive man in a sweater and lots of shiny new cars to make you feel festive! Ignore the creepy, oversized hamster salesman at the start, and instead focus on the real genius of this car commercial: the array of different tones in which the actor can say the word “nice.” Or maybe you’re more impressed by the “naughty”? *winking face emoji

7. Lidl

Okay, this one’s important. Hey ladies, feeling under appreciated during this festive time? Who is that fat man in the red suit and why is he taking all the credit for your work? The women of the Lidl commercial and Santa Clara are here to take back Christmas. Their anthem is super catchy and the lyrics hilarious (and accurate): “How come every year a mister gets the fame?/ When all the work is done by women in his name?” Preach. Just wait for the dance break. Yay for festive feminism! 

6. John Lewis

Here’s one for the animal lovers. The U.K. department store often brings along some furry friends to win over the Christmas crowd and this year the store introduced us to Buster the Boxer who just wants to jump on a trampoline — and he’s not the only one. British backyard regulars including the old urban fox, a badger, and a squirrel are there to get in on the bouncy fun. It’s pretty cute and reminds us that sharing is important this time of year. (Someone tell Buster — by the end of the commercial, his human still hasn’t had the chance to enjoy her Christmas gift.) 

5. Aldi

Kevin the carrot just wants to meet Santa. But it’s a scary trek past the potatoes and champagne when you’re just three inches tall. In the spirit of the holidays though, the little crunchy vegetable’s dreams come true and, by the end of the ad, he’s even flying (kind of). Dream big, kids (and shop at Aldi).

4. Heathrow

Ah, the holidays: the time of year where we all pay too much for flights and wait in ridiculously long security lines at the airport, but it’s all worth it in the end because we’re home with our loved ones. London’s biggest airport gets it, and instead of just pulling at our heartstrings with a tale of a couple of grandparents reunited with their grandkids at a busy airport, they animate said grandparents as teddy bears. Cuddly, adorable, slightly nervous but very much determined, teddy bears. I’m not crying, you are.

3. Marks & Spencer

Mrs. Claus, played by two-time Oscar nominee Janet McTeer, is the vision of class in this Marks & Spencer commercial directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). She also comes to the rescue of 6-year-old Jake, who unintentionally seems to torment his older sister and needs some help earning her forgiveness and affection this holiday season. Enter, Mrs Claus… in a freaking helicopter (she’s so much more with the times than her husband) — to save the day with a gift. With love, Mrs Claus.

2. Amazon Prime

Don’t you just love Amazon? They have everything, they’re reliable and efficient, and now they’re promoting goodwill and inclusion at a time when we need it most. In this moving commercial, two old friends, one an Anglican vicar and the other a Muslim imam, get together for a cup of tea and realize they have a problem in common. So deep is their bond that they both end up buying each other the same gift from Amazon. It’s touching and real and the music is beautiful. I challenge you not to watch it on repeat.

1. Allegro

There’s really very little to say about this Polish masterpiece of a commercial, other than watch it. Multiple times. It’s poignant; it’s beautiful; it’s hilarious; it’s the best commercial ever made. If you’re not crying by the end, you don’t have a heart.