At the end of one of the busiest periods in retail, we take a look at eight of the most impactful marketing campaigns of November, shedding some light on the production, reception and why these ads ticked our boxes.

November includes two of the biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Early results have shown that online sales took a bit of a hit this year, making it the first time that spending has been lower than the previous year. Adobe, who created the report, suggested that the downward trend could have been caused by early spending in October (as we reported in our previous article.) Another interesting piece of information from the report is that 44.4% of sales were made from a smartphone, a 10.6% increase from last year.

In terms of marketing campaigns, John Lewis kicked off the holiday season early, Tesco caused some controversy and Cuthbert the Cake got arrested. Let’s kick things off with an “Unexpected Guest.”

John Lewis

After the retailer found themselves in hot water over their ‘Let Life Happen’ campaign, John Lewis quickly moved on by releasing their hotly anticipated Christmas spot on 4th December. Created once again by adam&eveDDB, the ad is titled “Unexpected guest” and depicts a young boy befriending a crash-landed alien.

The two-minute spot celebrates the magic of Christmas moments experienced for the first time (decorating a tree, eating mince pies, playing in the snow) and ends with the boy gifting his alien-friend a Christmas jumper before they leave. The ad was a return to live action for John Lewis, who’s animated 2020 ad ‘Give a Little Love,’ reflected a need to represent a Christmas period like no other.

20-year-old Lola Young lends her sensational vocals to a cover of ‘Together in Electric Dreams,’ originally performed by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder. But of course, controversy is never far off for John Lewis, and it was quickly accused of copying an arrangement of the song released by alt-folk ‘the Portraits,’ who had previously reached out to the company asking if their version would work for the company’s ad. John Lewis denied the accusation and donated an undisclosed sum to the Portrait’s chosen charities in response.


This advert caught the attention of our Head of Marketing on LinkedIn. In response to COP26, WWF tasked NOMINT with producing a short video highlighting the very-real perils of climate change. The idea was to use the melting properties of ice to create a stop motion film that melts away and highlights the urgency of the Arctic problem.

Yannis Konstantinidis, Founder and CEO of NOMINT, wrote “fittingly, once ice starts melting you have no control over it, making it almost impossible to create a stop-motion film of this scale (which of course requires time between each shot.) It was especially hard emotionally, as with every melted sculpture and ruined shot, we were being reminded of the devastating issue at hand and how easy it is to underestimate it.”

The result is a haunting 45 seconds of an ice polar bear making its way through a quickly melting landscape, ending on a melting piece of sea-ice floating in the darkness.


“Nothing’s Stopping Us,” is the title of Tesco’s Christmas offering, a message that we can all get behind after last year. Set to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” the campaign embraces people’s determination to celebrate after being unable to do so last year.

The ad has been created by BBH and was driven by the insight that 86% of UK adults vow that nothing will stop them from going big this Christmas (although Omicron might have other ideas.) But one particular scene in the one-and-a-half minute slot has got a particular group of people’s blood boiling. At one point, some “breaking news” tells viewers that “Santa could be quarantined.” The man in question is then shown presenting his Covid pass at border control, proving he can enter without restrictions. 

The short segment prompted more than 1,500 people to kick up a fuss to the Advertising Standards Authority, making it the most complained-about advert of the year (even surpassing John Lewis’s “Let Life Happen.” The ASA has said that most complaints state the scene is ‘coercive and encourages medical discrimination.’ 


Can you read this ok? If not, you could have presbyopia, a condition that Specsavers is highlighting in their latest campaign. The ad features Dom Joly of Trigger Happy TV. You may remember Dom Joly as the guy with the massive phone, making loud calls in inappropriate places. In the ad, it turns out that Dom still has a massive mobile, but only because he can’t read the text on normal-sized phones. 

The ad is by Tangerine Communications and The Agency and is featured because a) it’s not a Christmas ad, b) Dom Joly is funny and c) it was shot in and around Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury, five minutes down the road from me.

Gay Times 

Sticking up a big middle finger to certain organisations (you know who you are) and to increased transphobia and hate around the globe, Media brand Gay Times have partnered with Grey London to create a thought-provoking campaign to show their support for the transgender community.

Through a mixture of video and posters, sentences are read/displayed that are all missing the ‘t,’ making them incoherent and highlighting that erasing the ‘t’ in any language removes comprehension and sense from the words.

The campaign was launched during Transgender Awareness week to a live audience including Ellie Goulding, Jade Thirwall, Will Young and Rina Sawayama.  


Another non-Christmas spot, Nike has launched a series called ‘Nike Mind Sets,’ focussing on the topic of mental health. The campaign is designed to move the focus away from what you achieve to how you are feeling.

The sports brand has teamed up with AnalogFolk to develop a platform to utilise the healing power of movement, with focus shifting from ‘doing’ to ‘feeling’ instead. Nike are also promoting the Nike Training Club, offering ‘training for every body and mind’ and aiming to make fitness habits stick with ‘quicker options, goal-setting tools and new content daily.’ 


Back to the Christmas adverts now. Man of the hour, Marcus Rashford, stars alongside Kevin the Carrot in Aldi’s take on A Christmas Carol. The ad, created by McCann UK, tells the story of Kevin the Carrot in the role of ‘Spirit of Christmas,’ showing a the grumpy Ebanana Scrooge how magical Christmas can be (mostly in the form of good food.) 

I particularly enjoyed Cuthbert the Caterpillar being arrested at the beginning of the ad, in reference to the legal battle with M&S that argues Cuthbert infringes M&S’s Colin the Caterpillar’s trademark.

Aldi are donating 1.8 million meals to families that need help across the UK over the festive period.

Posten (the Norwegian postal service) 

We finish our roundup with an ad that pulls on the heartstrings and warms us like a log fire on Christmas Eve (or a nice cup of mulled wine.) To get there, we have to head across the seas to a snowy Norway. Their postal service, Posten, is promoting the message of inclusivity and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Norway.

The story tells of Harry’s once-yearly encounter with Santa, and a blossoming romance between the two. Harry waits for Santa every Christmas, sharing some brief time together before being cruelly split apart for another 365 days. One year, however, Santa enlists the help of Posten in delivering presents so that he can spend more time with Harry, and finally share a kiss. 

The campaign was developed by creative agency POL and produced by B-Reel films

With only another twenty-four days until the big day, and all of the Christmas campaigns well under way, we’ll see if December has any surprises up its sleeve to see off what has been a very interesting year. 

If you’re looking ahead to your marketing strategy in the new year, GO! can connect you to the right agency. Tell us the requirements, and we’ll start the search. Get in touch to get started…

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