5 Iconic Christmas Commercials to Fuel Your Holiday Spirit

Almost like a holiday tradition in its own right, watching these ads feels nostalgic. #MichaelsWilder #holidaymarketing Click To Tweet

Certain holiday commercials have the power to reach across time and bring you right back to your childhood. Often, brands run their most popular commercials year after year. Almost like a holiday tradition in its own right, watching these ads feels nostalgic. You may even remember the first time you saw one of your favorite ads and all the holiday excitement and joy that came with it.

The joyful content of holiday ads and the nostalgic feeling they bring makes them stand out from the commercials that play out on our screens through the rest of the year. However, the core elements of effective advertising remain the same. Great ads usually do most, if not all, the following things:

  • Elicit an Emotional Response
  • Tell a Story
  • Represent Brand Identity
  • Clearly Communicate Value
  • Call Viewers to Action

These 5 commercials are some of the best because they apply the principles of effective marketing while embracing the spirit of the season. That’s what makes them classics. So, curl up next to the Christmas tree with a cup of hot cocoa, and relive your Christmas memories with these timeless holiday commercials.

1. Hershey Kiss: Christmas Bells

In this Christmas classic, Hershey Kisses are arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree, ringing out like bells to the tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Inspired by the kiss’s handbell-shaped design, the commercial perfectly showcases the product while also embracing the holiday spirit.

Last year, Hershey’s updated the campaign for the social generation by allowing people to play their own version of the Hershey’s bells using handbells, church bells, DJ horns, and more, which they could then share to Instagram Stories.

While the social integration expertly capitalized on current trends, the core commercial itself is timeless. At over 30 years old, seeing the ad return to our screens each year is like being transported back to your childhood.

2. Campbell’s Soup: Snowman

While not explicitly about Christmas, the Campbell’s “Snowman” commercial is such a classic that it just had to be on this list.

Campbell’s demonstrated that “Nothing melts away the cold like a delicious hot bowl of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup,” by showing a snowman literally melting away to reveal a young boy warming up with a bowl of soup. It’s a cute twist that you probably won’t see coming if you’re watching it for the first time. Playful, warm, and unexpected, it’s the element of surprise that makes this commercial so good.

3. Budweiser: Christmas Clydesdales

Although there’s not a beer in sight in this holiday ad, the unmistakable imagery of Clydesdales trotting through the snow with a bright red carriage in tow make it instantly recognizable as a Budweiser commercial.

Simply wishing viewers “the very best,” its subtlety is what makes this ad a classic and a Christmas favorite. The fact that it doesn’t force its message or slap you in the face with product placement displays a great deal of confidence in the Budweiser brand. By using its ad to simply wish viewers a happy holiday, Budweiser puts the focus on the spirit of the season.

4. Coca-Cola: Northern Lights

Dating back to 1922, the polar bear has long been associated with Coca Cola. However, it wasn’t until 1993 that the popularity of the symbol really took off. “Northern Lights” was the Coca Cola polar bears’ first commercial debut and featured a group of polar bears watching the Aurora Borealis and drinking from the iconic glass soda bottles. Inspired by his flurry Golden Retriever puppy, adman Ken Stewart collaborated with an animation studio to bring the arctic animals to life using state-of-the-art (for the time) computer graphics.

The polar bears were an instant hit, and Coca Cola quickly commissioned several more ads, one of which would air during the 1994 Olympics. It just goes to show that you can never underestimate the appeal of a cute mascot.

5. M&Ms: Faint

When they stumble upon one another in the middle of the night, it comes as a surprise to both the spokes-candies and Santa Claus that one another really “do exist.”

A good joke is sometimes all you need to get the point across. Certain commercials stick in our heads for months, even years, just because they make us smile every time we see them. That’s certainly the case for this ad, which has been airing for over 20 years and just recently got a sequel. Doubling down on what worked 20 years ago, the ad drew in viewers curious to see what happened after the events of the first commercial.


If you have a favorite holiday commercial, drop a link in the comments, and we’ll make it a watch party!

Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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Mike Speer Administrator
Chief Marketing Officer Michaels WIlder

Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Chief Marketing Officer at Michaels Wilder and an entrepreneur since before the average person knew what that even meant, Mike has helped countless businesses build effective sales and marketing strategies. His philosophy is, “If you’re not thinking 10 years ahead, you’re already behind.” Mike’s content has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Inc. and Apple News. He has also been featured numerous times as a “Top 10 Writer” worldwide on the Q&A content site, Quora.

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