Are the best Christmas commercials made outside the U.S.A.?

Sources: Myer - “Bigger than Christmas”; Woodie’s Christmas Advert 2020
Nov 25, 2020
George Anderson

It’s not that U.S. retail businesses don’t produce strong Christmas commercials, but year-after-year spots by chains in countries around the world do a great job sparking laughs and happy tears and generally putting consumers in the holiday mood to shop.

The year 2020 has been unlike any other, challenging retailers in unprecedented ways. Is it also changing how they approach their holiday ads? This week’s RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge features two spots. The first is from Myer, the Australian department store operator (thanks Georganne  Bender). The second is from Woodie’s, an Irish home improvement chain.

Myer’s “Bigger Than Christmas” commercial addresses the pandemic in a symphonically big and absurdist manner. The spot is lyrically over the top, so will it get consumers in Australia to open their wallets?

Woodie’s “We’re all homemakers” spot takes a quieter approach with storytelling that recognizes that, “If ever there was a Christmas to look out for one another, this is the one.” See if you can make a connection between that sentiment and a likelihood to spend.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which of the two commercials introduced in the article do you think is more effective? Would these spots play well with U.S. audiences, as well?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"The U.S. has its share of great ads but, in my opinion, the U.K. is one of the most creative advertising markets."
"But as good as the Woodie’s spot is I have to give it to Myer – there is no other word to describe that commercial other than brilliant."
"Myer’s Bigger Than Christmas spot symbolizes the outrageous wackiness of 2020. This Aussie ad grabbed my full attention."

Join the Discussion!

19 Comments on "Are the best Christmas commercials made outside the U.S.A.?"

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Dick Seesel

Woodie’s, hands down — and it would play well in the U.S. too. A warm holiday message with a not-too-subtle reminder that Woodie’s is a DIY retailer. Also one of the rare spots in this year’s contest that avoids an explicit reference to COVID-19 but still celebrates the virtue of helping others.

I found the Myer ad off-putting and missing relevance to Myers’s core business. The concept was over the top, and the cheeky treatment of the pandemic would definitely strike a sour note if shown in the U.S.

Richard Hernandez

I have always thought the U.K. has been the leader in Christmas commercials for years (The John Lewis 2012 spot The Journey and 2014’s Monty the Penguin are the best in my opinion) but, between these two, I like Woodie’s spot best – it is understated and shows that even the smallest gesture does the heart good.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.

Although the Myer ad was entertaining, I’m not certain of its real message and how it might connect with its core customers. Woodie’s on the other hand brings out the true meaning of Christmas, namely caring and sharing with one another. This ad could be easily replicated by one of our U.S. home improvement retailers or for most retailers with some contextual changes. Having lived and taught in Ireland, Woodie’s has always been a favored retailer.

Georganne Bender

I love a good story commercial and here in the U.S. Macy’s does it best, but we’re not talking about the U.S. here.

The Woodie’s commercial is heart-warming, and if it doesn’t cause you to want to reach out to someone who is alone this holiday then you don’t have a pulse.

But as good as the Woodie’s spot is I have to give it to Myer – there is no other word to describe that commercial other than brilliant. It’s fun, it’s funny and it gives us hope that this pandemic won’t last forever, but while it’s here let’s make the best of it, share a laugh and be thankful for what we do have. I love the lyrics to this commercial so much I want to paint them on a wall.

Neil Saunders

I like the Myer ad as it is upbeat and fun, and it also reflects – in a humorous way – the challenges we have all faced this year. However for me, Woodie’s wins this one. It is very touching and reflects the true meaning of the holiday season. I also like the way the story is linked to home improvement, which is Woodie’s business.

The U.S. has its share of great ads but, in my opinion, the U.K. is one of the most creative advertising markets.

Lisa Goller

Myer’s Bigger Than Christmas spot symbolizes the outrageous wackiness of 2020. This Aussie ad grabbed my full attention. I kept my eyes and ears on the screen so I wouldn’t miss any of the random, ridiculous details. It shows the pandemic may motivate us to cram the entire year’s holidays into this season to compensate for tarnished traditions.

The Irish spot for Woodie’s showed how lonely Mrs. Higgins is well-liked but she neglects home repairs. Her young neighbor’s random act of kindness shows that caring for people in our community is the most meaningful gift. This tender message resonates across generations.

The Irish can sell anything; I throw my credit cards at them. Yet the Australian ad won this round for the levity of its lunacy.

Georganne Bender

“You got married in the kitchen, you turned 50 in your bed, finished high school in the hallway and got christened in the shed” – Levity of its lunacy is perfect, Lisa!

I love a good tearjerker commercial too, but I feel like a version of Mrs. Higgins happens every year.

Shep Hyken

Go Woodies! Both would play well. And as far as U.S. versus the rest of the world in terms of creativity — we love the international commercials in the U.S., and may find the U.S. commercials to be creative, funny and heartwarming as well. Different stands out. It could be the style, the humor and even the accents.

Dr. Stephen Needel

Woodie’s – if that’s not the spirit of Christmas, I don’t know what is.

Kathleen Fischer

The Woodie’s spot definitely touched the heart more and would play well in the U.S. The Myer spot is probably a little too irreverent for many audiences in the U.S. and I think it lacks a connection to the brand so it will not likely drive shoppers to buy. But it was definitely over the top and amusing!

Brandon Rael

There’s no question about it, with Woodie’s taking the win. What a magical mix of sentimentality, emotions, community, and empathy, which is reflective of the types of Christmas commercials made outside the U.S. The European market, especially the John Lewis annual holiday advertisement, just capture magic in a bottle that resonates well beyond the products or shopping experiences.

Myer may have gone for the shock value with their ad, however if you are looking to tug at the heartstrings and represent what the holidays truly mean, then Woodie’s is going to be the one you remember.

Steve Montgomery

Woodie’s speaks to the spirit of Christmas. It very lightly mixes in the types of items it sells and presents them in a positive manner.

I’m not sure what the Myer commercial was trying to say other that those that were watching it survived the pandemic and people should go out and spend a lot of money for Christmas. Definitely not something that would resonate in the U.S. with the death toll and havoc it has created here and elsewhere in the world.

Rich Kizer

I can’t take exception on any comments here. However as I think back through the past couple of years, I recall the ongoing campaigns of Canadian Tire and the emotions generated. Emotion generates action. My vote so far for great Christmas ads this year is Hobby Lobby. The name of the ad is “Christmas is what you make it.” No hype, no prices, just pure emotion that makes you fall in love with what they are doing.

Harley Feldman

The Myers commercial will be remembered for its humor and craziness. It will work along as people know what Myers sells. Woodie’s tells a nice Christmas story reflecting on their tools business. Woodie’s will be remembered longer and better for what they sell.

The Woodie’s commercial will work for US audiences as the theme would be well understand here. Myers would not work as the US audience does not know what they sell.

David Naumann

Hands down, the Woodie’s commercial is the most effective at capturing the emotional spirit of Christmas. It was heart-warming and it made me think about doing something nice for others. It also had a good connection with products available at Woodie’s stores. While the Myer’s ad was lively and humorous, I didn’t feel an emotional connection or push to spend more on Christmas gifts and there was no connection to shopping at Myer’s.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

Meyer’s was so clever, real, entertaining and made me smile. Woolies was sweet and made me feel warm inside.

It’s fun to see what resonates with different markets.

Craig Sundstrom

IMHO, this was a non-contest: Woodies; sentimental without being sappy, and actually tying to the products offered. The Myer spot was humorous, but as is so often the case when we evaluate these ads, too wrapped up in itself to really say anything … too clever by half (well, let’s be metric: by .50)
And of course for those who are interested in recycling, the former can be played every year; the latter — hopefully! — will make little sense a couple years from now.

Rachelle King
You have to give points to Myer for satirical humor. This spot really is over the top and engaging! But, this spot did lose me a bit with all of the running narratives (maybe the :60 is just right). By the end of the spot, I really could not connect the message to the brand to the content. So, this one loses because of likely poor brand recall. Woodie’s takes a moment to get to the punch but does a good job of connecting to the brand purpose on home improvement. I’d deduct some points for lack of social relevance–where is the mask for this elderly woman; not to mention the group of kids outside her door? But, heartwarming sentiment usually wins in the end with holiday messages, so Woodies takes this win for a more effective brand message. While these are nice ads, they both feel more like brand reminders than a call to action; so I struggle with effectiveness at driving sales. Myer could work in the US because the themes are all… Read more »
William Passodelis

The first commercial was fun and entertaining, but I have to vote for Woodies.

I do not care if we see this over and over — the reminder that it is good to be caring cannot be said enough. In this time of the year, we have the ability to make that statement.

As for the U.S., check out any Meijer ad — they are ALWAYS smart, entertaining, fun, and sometimes also heart string pulls — Meijer always does a great job!

"The U.S. has its share of great ads but, in my opinion, the U.K. is one of the most creative advertising markets."
"But as good as the Woodie’s spot is I have to give it to Myer – there is no other word to describe that commercial other than brilliant."
"Myer’s Bigger Than Christmas spot symbolizes the outrageous wackiness of 2020. This Aussie ad grabbed my full attention."

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