Sainsbury's and John Lewis unveil 2014 Christmas adverts, but before Monty the penguin there was Ronald McDonald. A short history of the festive ad

Yellow Pages' 1992 ad has become a festive favourite (Source: Yellow Pages)


Christmas comes but once a year, but the advertising that goes around it lasts much, much longer, with some brands seeing fit to launch their festive offerings at the beginning of November.

This week saw the unveiling of Sainsbury's festive offering. The supermarket giant partnered with the Royal British Legion to tell the story of Christmas Day in the trenches of the First World War. The emotional advert comes a week after John Lewis introduced the nation to its new favourite cuddly character Monty the penguin.

The ad now has more than 14 million views on YouTube and the Monty and Mabel themed merchandise has been flying off the shelves in stores and online. Craig Inglis, the retailer’s marketing director, said he hopes the ad will “remind people of the magic of Christmas through a child’s eyes”.

John Lewis may have set the bar for Christmas nostalgia back in 2009 with its "Remember how Christmas used to feel?" ad, but Coca-Cola is widely credited with "inventing" the Christmas ad back in 1931, when it took Santa Claus, dressed him up in jolly Coca-Cola red and slapped him on billboards and in newspapers.

Since then, brands have been competing to make consumers feel as schmaltzy as possible. From Quality Streets' magic moments to Yellow Pages' vertically-challenged Romeo, here's our round-up of the classics.

Tap the videos to watch them on a mobile. If you're on a desktop, click the "watch on Youtube" button in the bottom right-hand corner to watch them full-screen.

From fake snow to animated penguins, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without advertisers peddling their version of festive magic. Here's a look at how the Christmas ad has progressed through the ages...

Back in the fifties, things were simple. All you needed to do to impress viewers was pour a glass of coke. Simples.

In the years before we worried about bothersome things like saturated fat, Ronald McDonald was leading children in a Pied Piper-style dance around a frozen lake. Not a burger in sight.

Replace the Walkman and ZX Spectrum with an iPhone and PS4 and Curry's advertising has barely changed in two decades.

Toys R Us managed to confuse children for years with this ad. Why would anyone go shopping for presents when Santa brings them?

Guaranteed to be whistled by every single family member at some point during the festive season, Nestle has stuck with its song through the years, even as the visuals changed.

It's a classic tale: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy has to stand on a Yellow Pages in order to kiss girl.

This 22-year-old Christmas turkey is as traditional as, well, cold Christmas turkey on Boxing Day...

Only 1995? It seems like a classic seventies throwback, but was actually created in the nineties by Coca-Cola's ad agency.

Was Nestle ahead of its time? Cartoon, check. Cute animated character, check. Heartwarming nostalgia, check. It's practically John Lewis...

Before they were a thing, John Lewis Christmas ads were like this. Weird.

The supermarket's latest ad diverges from the norm with a wartime theme. So far, it's proven even more of a tearjerker than John Lewis' 2014 offering, Monty the Penguin.


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