20 Nostalgic Festive TV Ads That Will Take You Back To Christmases Past

·6 min read
(Photo: Tesco/Boots/Andrex/Woolworths)
(Photo: Tesco/Boots/Andrex/Woolworths)

Like it or lump it, it’s officially Christmas season – as far as advertisers are concerned, anyway – with a host of new festive ads currently flooding our TVs.

This year, Disney got things off to a tear-jerking start, and then came the much-anticipated arrival of the John Lewis ad, which has become an event in itself over the last decade.

But if thinking about this festive season still feels a bit too much right now, we’re talking a trip down (a snowy) memory lane with a round-up of ads that will take you right back to Christmases past...

Tesco – 2007

Yes, that really is Vicky Beckham pushing a trolley up and down the aisles of Tesco.

Posh teamed up with her fellow Spices for a series of festive ads for Tesco in 2007 ahead of their reunion world tour the following year.

Watching this back now, we can’t help but feel we were robbed of a Christmas sequel to their film Spiceworld.

Andrex – 1990s

A cute puppy frolicking in the snow chasing loo roll with a duck – what’s not to love?

Actually, maybe the Slade soundtrack, but let’s not get into that one.

Yellow Pages – 1992

Younger readers may have no idea what a Yellow Pages even is, but before the days of Google, people had to look up phone numbers in a big phone directory that would get dropped off at your house a couple of times a year.

It also came in handy for a number of other things too, as their 1992 Christmas ad proved.

Marks & Spencer – 2002

The early 2000s M&S Christmas adverts regularly featured a roll-call of celebrities, but they really scored in 2002 when they signed up David Beckham to appear alongside the likes of Graham Norton, Denise Van Outen, Hermione Norris, Ronnie Barker, Cat Deeley and Sean Bean – and that’s without even mentioning a half-naked Joan Collins wrapped up in faux fur.

Bringing a whole new meaning to “camp as Christmas”.

Boots – 1991

Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas is one of the most beloved festive characters of all time, and to tie in with the 1991 animation, Boots themed their festive offering around him.

Although we have to say, it was kind of cheating for him to be picking up presents from the High Street.

Lunn Poly – 1994

Also inspired by the works of Raymond Briggs was the now defunct travel agent Lunn Poly, who took off The Snowman for a comedy ad in 1994.

John Lewis – 2013

Let’s be honest – as hard as they’ve tried, John Lewis have never managed to top their 2013 Christmas advert.

Soundtracked by Lily Allen singing a dreamy cover of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know, The Bare And The Hare was peak John Lewis, and we’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.

Polaroid – 1981

You might think the Muppets’ long association with the festive season started with their take on A Christmas Carol in 1992, but it predates that.

A decade earlier, Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang starred in a 1981 advert for Polaroid camera.

Tesco – 2003

Prunella Scales and Jane Horrocks headed up the Tesco adverts for many years, and the supermarket would have their comedy characters getting up to all sorts in their festive offerings.

Our favourite, though, was a James Bond-inspired commercial that saw Prunella’s character dreaming that she was being wooed by Roger Moore in a ski cabin as she took a Christmas Day nap.

Woolworths – 2001

Oh goodness, how we miss Woolies.

The much-loved High Street emporium enlisted the help of Ant and Dec to help get the tills ringing in 2001 – although they were not the only famous pairing staring in their festive ads that year.

For reasons we can’t quite fathom in the cold light of 2021, EastEnders’ Frank and Ricky Butcher (aka Mike Reid and Sid Owen) also appeared in another similar commercial.

Oxo – 1984

Perhaps the most famous series of commercials ever to grace UK screens were the Oxo adverts, which were headed up by the late Lynda Bellingham as the matriarch of the Oxo family.

There were a few festive specials over the years that the adverts ran, but it’s this one that always sticks in our heads.

Toys R Us – 1970s to 2000s

OK, so this isn’t strictly a festive advert, but for many of us, the Toys R Us commercial was synonymous with Christmas, probably due to how the toy store would ramp up their advertising around the holidays.

Now that’s what you call an effective marketing campaign.

Asda – 1990s

Admittedly, Asda has traditionally trailed behind the other big supermarkets with their Christmas ads. However, there is something about the ASDA Price Promise being carved into a snowy stone that we can remember some 30 years on.

Sainsburys – 1998

Sainsburys have gone down the route of a mini festive films for their Christmas adverts in recent years, but back in the late 90s, they employed a different tack and cast Fawlty Towers’ John Cleese to star in a series of comedy, family-themed ads.

WHSmith – 1996

Fellow comedy legend Nicholas Lyndhurst took charge of the WHSmith advertising campaign in 1996, playing all the members of a a family gearing up for Christmas

Quality Street – 1980s

Why Quality Street ever did away with their Magic Moments song is, quite frankly, beyond us, as the familiar tune is still ingrained in our brains.

This Xmas ad from the 1980s sees a group of carol singers serenading their neighbours with the song, before they are interrupted by Neil Innes with his Bing Crosby-style crooning.

Hellmann’s – 1990s

It really wasn’t Christmas until you’d heard Hellmanns’ take on the 12 Days Of Christmas each year.

Marks & Spencer – 2007

Another entry from M&S on this list comes from their 2007 campaign, which cast a host of famous models, including bona fide British icon Twiggy, in a White Christmas-inspired ad.

The campaign also helped Andy Williams’ yuletide classic It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year to reach a new peak in the Official UK Chart, hitting the top 30 for the first time.

Walkers – 2019

A newer addition to the festive advert hall of fame came in 2019, when Walkers managed to secure the services of the official Queen Of Christmas Mariah Carey to help flog bags of cheese and onion.

Mimi not letting more than a bite of crisp pass her lips throughout the entire ad remains iconic.

Coca Cola – 1995 to present

Holidays are coming! Holidays are coming!

With its catchy jingle and iconic branding, the Christmas Coke ads officially signal the start of the festive period when they start airing on TV.

The advert debuted in 1995 and was remade in 1998 and again in 1999, with an edited version of the 1998 ad remaining on screens to this day.

But if we’re picking favourites, it’s the original that’s the best, which you can watch above.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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