But before we take a break to start the celebrating, let’s recap those brands that best embodied the holiday spirit this season. The top 10 campaigns of the 2014 holiday season, as of Dec. 16, are:
1. John Lewis’ “Monty the Penguin”: 31,140,574 views
2. Samsung’s “Home for the Holidays”: 21,013,232 views
3. Sainsbury’s “Christmas 2014”: 16,420,630 views
4. Band Aid 30’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”: 15,063,530 views
5. Poo~Pourri’s “Even Santa Poops”: 10,344,783 views
6. Target’s “Holiday 2014”: 6,264,542 views
7. Microsoft’s “Winter Wonderland”: 5,724,855 views
8. Stella Artois’ “Give Beautifully”: 4,981,509 views
9. Honda’s “Happy Honda Days 2014”: 4,930,540 views
10. Kmart’s “Not a Christmas Commercial”: 4,650,742 views
John Lewis takes the top spot with “Monty the Penguin,”a two-minute video that tells the tale of a boy and his penguin, Monty, who are the best of friends. When the boy notices that Monty may be lonely for a penguin companion of his own, he surprises Monty with a new friend on Christmas morning. But as the penguins greet each other, they turn from real penguins into two stuffed animal penguins.
The 150-year old British retailer is known for its sweet and sentimental holiday advertising, but what makes this ad so shareable is the powerful nostalgia for childhood, and the joy of the holidays.
We have become used to seeing British brands like John Lewis overshadow the rest of the pack when it comes to holiday advertising, since the Christmas season is like the Super Bowl for U.K. advertisers: a time for the country’s most beloved brands to launch their most magical and creative work.
Other British brands within the top 10 include Sainsbury with its “Christmas 2014,” which tells the true story of a Christmas ceasefire on the Western Front during WWI, and Band Aid 30’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” -- a nonprofit British super group singing to raise money for Ebola research.
These British brands produce cinematic, dramatic, and emotional videos and, as a result, tend to drive more media coverage during the holiday season. U.S. brands tend to rely on humor and/or celebrity in their holiday campaigns. While these campaigns may not drive as much buzz as their British counterparts, they do drive a whole lot of viewership.
Take for instance Samsung’s “Home for the Holidays,” which has driven more than 21 million views in just a little over two weeks. The campaign features celebrity couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd as they prepare their house for the holiday season.
So how can other brands find their holiday video spirit?
Find a holiday story that fits your brand: The holidays are all about family, home, and traditions. Find a way to express your brand message in a story that focuses on those elements, whether through heartwarming drama, like Sainsbury’s ad, or absurd comedy, like Poo~Pourri’s “Even Santa Poops.”
Find the magic: The biggest hits in holiday video make viewers feel the magic of the holidays. Take John Lewis’ “Monty the Penguin,” which makes us remember what it feels like to be a kid around the holidays.
Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb: Not all holiday ads have to be safe, or fit a traditional holiday narrative. Some of the most popular ads of the last years have been unconventional. Take the campaigns from the NBA in which basketball players play Christmas carols by dribbling basketballs, or this year’s Gap ads directed by Sofia Coppola, which show the awkwardness and chaos of coming home for the holidays.