December is officially here and the holiday cheer is in full effect! It also means that we need to be continually reminded of this by every retail store in the country. In my anticipation for the big day (Christmas, of course), I used Synthesio’s Social Listening platform to create a dashboard around my favorite holiday to see how well some of the top Christmas ads performed.

John Lewis

christmas ads

As you can see from the Share of Voice widget, our trusty friend John Lewis was there to steal the show once again. The onus this year was on Buster the Boxer to melt the hearts of the nation, and that he did. Sure as all great showmen do, he split opinion, but that didn’t stop the love pouring in on mainstream, social media and over the garden fence. See the 2016 ad, #BusterTheBoxer:

This is hardly surprising, after all they do have “gifts that everyone will love.” You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve walked up and down House of Fraser seeking gifts for my fox, badger and hedgehog!

christmas ads

However John Lewis faced a backlash of untimely criticism from those backing the #stopfundinghate campaign. This aims to have brands discontinue advertising with newspapers such as The Sun, The Daily Mail and Daily Express, who protesters believe to be publishing “divisive hate campaigns.”

christmas ads

Lego already ended its association with the Daily Mail, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose are also being pressured to follow suit. John Lewis released a statement saying that it doesn’t make editorial judgements on newspapers, however the band Vaults, who are behind this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert soundtrack, released their own statement. This was to announce their support for the Stop Funding Hate campaign, and that they will be donating their income to a refugee charity. This was met with praise on social media.

christmas ads

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer followed hot on the heels of John Lewis in its effort to take the limelight.

christmas ads hashtags

Until now, Mrs Claus has been something of an enigma. A shadow in Mr Claus’ legendary status. But now, with the help of M&S’ Christmas ads, she rose to the forefront and stole her husband’s thunder by making a boy’s Christmas festive wishes come true in the “Nick” of time.

Christmas Ads Genders

This was received warmly by the female demographic, as it received praise for its feminist stance and depiction of a strong, tenacious woman.


Sainsbury’s is also up there as one of the nation’s favourite Christmas ads, with James Corden voicing the animated Father trying to find the “greatest gift” for his family. This is until he realises that the best gift he can give is to spend time with his loved ones. For some, it captured the imagination and was regarded as the best advert of the year. For others, it meant that there was a strange undertone that there is absolutely no need to buy Sainsbury’s products, as all you need is the people around you. The strapline of “Christmas is for sharing” was also met with confusion as the supermarket’s many employees work on both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

Holiday Ads Social Listening


Other department stores and supermarkets launched successful campaigns of their own as well, but without the enormous social effect that John Lewis, M&S and Sainsbury’s have every year. However, to answer my original question, John Lewis clearly created the biggest and best buzz of all of the christmas ads that we were reviewing.

Learn more about how Synthesio’s Social Listening platform is able to pull social data like what I pulled for Christmas ads, request a demo today: