As a marketing consultant I pay special attention to the ads running around the winter holiday season. Sometimes the ones I like also resonate with others, but I pay special attention to when they don’t because that’s where I learn. Below are my picks of the top ads I’ve seen this year.

  1. Salvation Army (Canadian site)

I loved this year’s ad because they really created a campaign that resonated with not just people, but with the media they were using. The concept was about the limited window we have into the lives of those who depend on the Salvation Army. It created a snapshot of a nice family, and just outside of the frame you can see a more ‘accurate’ look into their life of need. I especially loved how they used Facebook’s 360 degree picture technology to make this ad more interactive!

The video is here, which will give you a sense of the concept behind the ads.

The Facebook ad is here – try out the 360 capability!

Salvation Army FB

The Canadian website (linked to above) has a different video on their site: I didn’t like it as much because I’ve seen this type of ad done a bunch of times – but experiential marketing is a great way to really reach people using a bit of shock or awe.

2. Hotel Tonight

I liked these ads because they were simple and true. The little touches like the slow motion video with the classical Christmas music playing really brought a nostalgic feeling. They weren’t negative per say but had that sense of ‘readying yourself’ for a family event. It worked really well with their branding – clean, simple, in the moment.

3. Marks & Spenser

This one is my favourite. M&S have found a creative way to elevate the magic of a gift from Santa by using Mrs. Clause. However, in this ad she isn’t the stereotypical image of Mrs. Clause we had growing up. She’s smart, savvy and stunning! She is a modern Mrs. Clause that exudes class, supports her husband’s annual jaunt, and has her own life outside of his! Clever details like her red helicopter being called ‘R-Dolph’ or reading ’50 Shades of Red’ add the perfect touches.

An honorable mention goes to this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad – for me it was the song that held me. Yes, I enjoyed the fox and other animals, but the song really meshed with the tentative start when the fox first pokes his head into the trampoline. The stopping of the music from the street perspective – well done!

I tended to filter out the ads that run on too long like the Sainsbury stop animation ad which runs for 3.5 minutes! I just couldn’t sit through it.

Which ads resonated with you? Share in the comments below!

Carolyn Bergshoeff is the founder of WindWater Marketing, a small business marketing firm in Toronto, Canada. Visit for more information or email