The 18 best holiday commercials of 2020
It’s time for EW’s highly anticipated annual holiday commercial countdown!
This year was more difficult than anyone could have imagined, but the holidays are here nonetheless and with them, a sleigh full of Christmas commercials to make us merry. Luckily, most advertising execs have been smart enough to incorporate the pandemic into their ads in some way so as not to seem totally tone deaf and alienate the average shopper. British retailers and tech giants alike have come up with some merriment to encourage spending and (less cynically) entertain and uplift us.
And so, without further ado, EW presents the best holiday commercials of 2020, which left us heart-warmed, teary-eyed and, yes, more than a little hungry:
Adorable old people? Check. An unexpected good deed? Check. Heartwarming community cheer? Check. This ad for Irish-owned DIY store Woodies nails it.
Ah, 2020. The year of alternative communication. This Kohl's commercial sees a young girl writing notes to her across-the-street neighbor and displaying them at the window. Her elderly neighbor reciprocates until she disappears!! Why would you do this to us, Kohl's?! It's okay, it's okay. She's back by Christmas, but come on, Khol's! In this climate?!
16. Marks & Spencer
Olivia Colman! Her voice alone makes Christmas a little brighter in this Marks & Spencer's ad. Just listening to her saying "fancy pants" on repeat is enough to get you in the holiday spirit.
If there's one thing we've gotten plenty of this year, it's screen time. We're not sure if that work for or against Microsoft this holiday season, but nonetheless they've put together a fun ad that transports dogs into their owners' video games and Microsoft Teams calls. It's pawsatively adorable.
This year, let's deck the halls over video calls! Ah, Walmart, too real. The retailer is looking to the essential this year and reminding us to end the year with joy, meaning, and what matters: a vaccine. Okay, we added that last part, but we're not wrong!
Heineken, so hopeful! Their ad campaign centers around it being "holidays as usual" this year with all the normal family disputes and grievances. Hey, if you're lucky enough to be around your family this yuletide, grab a beer and really lean into the sweet sound of your grandmother's couch snoring.
Okay, but would it really be Christmas without some unwarranted weeping over a commercial? Disney does it this year with their decade-spanning tale of a young girl besotted with her vintage Mickey Mouse soft toy. As she grows older she passes on her love for the icon and crafting onto her granddaughter. There's emotional music and pretty star lanterns too, to really tug at those heartstrings.
In a year when we've all become far too close to the electronics in our lives, this O2 commercial, complete with an ice skating robot seems entirely festively fitting.
Hey, pre-teens! Be nice to your parents always, but especially during the holidays, okay? And listen to your inner child and have fun and eat Big Macs...in moderation.
Amazon probably had a better year than literally anyone else but nonetheless gets real in their holiday commercial. A young ballerina lands the lead in her school performance only for 2020 to rear its ugly corona-heavy head and cancel the show. But! Of course the show must go on in some capacity and thanks to some speedy deliveries from Amazon it can — in a socially distanced fashion, natch.
During this socially-distanced holiday season, we're missing the arts more than ever. Apparently British retailer Argos and their book of dreams can help with that. All it takes is a little magic to transform a living rooms into a theater. *Adds magic (and cast of Hamilton) to Christmas list.*
Chick-fil-A is here to spark joy this Christmas. When the holiday lights in little Sam's town aren't igniting, she discovers a magical place called the Switch Works where they have a switch to fix everything —including one that fixes bed-head!! With the help of a little hope, Sam's town is soon lit, but let's talk more about that bed-head fixer...
Poor USPS has had quite a year and they're still determined to get our Christmas gifts to us on time — come sleet or snow. The United States Postal Service workers are among the true heroes this year, so get out there and buy stamps! (Or order them online for maximum safety.)
To be fair, Tesco had us at Britney Spears' opening "Oops!...I Did it Again" vocals, but the ad, which makes fun of all the (minor) COVID-related slip ups we've seen over the past 10 months —terrible haircuts, buying too much toilet paper, forgetting to sing "Happy Birthday" when washing hands— is also as endearing as it is relatable.
4. Waitrose and John Lewis
Kids, snowpeople, and old people doing random acts of kindness? Alright, Waitrose and John Lewis, we've seen this kind of emotional manipulation before...Wait, are those pigeons waiting for a bus?
Kevin the Carrot is back!! Is it even the holidays without our favorite root vegetable? This year, he's on a quest to return to his family in time for Christmas. Will he make it? With some help from the big guy in a red coat —and a flying E.T.-style bicycle??— he just might!
Lidl decides to get meta and parodies the traditional Christmas ad formula with this year's entry. Rather than get overly sentimental about, well, everything holiday related, the commercial jokes about not needing "cutesy characters when carrots taste this good," (looking at you, Kevin!) and "emotional gravy," (which, yum) before pretending to cut to the "moment where we want you to feel sad," then adding, "but we don't have time, look sparkling wine!" Delish.
Many festive thanks to Xfinity for giving us Steve Carell in the role he was born to play: Santa Claus. In this holiday commercial, Santa tasks his elves with coming up with some truly special gift ideas to make up for the year we've all had. After a lot of duds, the elves — with not a lot of help from a naysaying Saint Nicholas — come up with the idea of gifting togetherness in the form of all the things that remind us of our loved ones. Ever wanted your auntie's cheek squeezing packaged in a box? Now's your chance. Personally, if we're writing to Xfinity, I'd rather my bills were paid for a year, but hey, a family snowball fight sounds fine too.