20 Heartwarming, Cinematic Ads That Brighten Up the Holidays

Some of 2019's top seasonal spots, from Apple to Frito-Lay

Banana Republic, Walkers Crisps and Argos made their Yuletide marketing dazzle this year. Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Sources: Argos, TK Maxx, USPS, Hobby Lobby, Smirnoff, Walkers Crisps
Headshot of Mónica Marie Zorrilla

‘Tis the season for big-budget holiday commercials that string together twinkly lights and heartfelt narratives into striking blockbuster-worthy spots. Get ready to feel the dazzling splendor of Yuletide marketing with our pick of the holiday’s best ads so far—and don’t forget to have a box of tissues handy.

Aldi, “The Leafy Blinders”
Agency: McCann U.K.

Kevin the Carrot, the most recognizable three-inch explorer and fashion icon of the Aldi holiday advert world, is back for his fourth adventure, but a gang of Brummy Brussels, led by newcomer villain Russel Sprout, pose carotene peril. With the help of Tiny Tom, Kevin escapes just in time to put on an elaborate performance reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast’s “Be Our Guest” at his magical Big Top, encouraging cooks to embrace showmanship during his Christmas spectacular.

Apple, “The Surprise”
Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

Real-life freckled sisters star in this ad, in which a grandfather is still coping with the recent passing of his wife. Together, the siblings join forces in this poignant spot from Apple focusing on how the iPad can bring together families in ways that they don’t expect but can relate to, such as the stress of traveling with kids and grieving the recent loss of a loved one.

Argos “The Book of Dreams”
Agency: The&Partnership

With the blend of an expanding set (achieved without CGI), meticulous sound engineering, a 9-year-old drumming prodigy and a bad-ass kit, British catalog retailer Argos released an instant classic for the 2019 holiday season. The familiar, heartwarming daddy-and-daughter story trope is elevated by the concept of a Gen X dad figuratively and literally sharing his childlike wish list dream with his Gen Z daughter to the timeless 1985 tune “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.

Banana Republic, “Celebrate”

Well known contemporary dancers such as Jon Boogz, Nataliya Bulycheva, Nardia BooDoo, Yiannis Logothetis, Ron Myles, Marie Louwes, Gregg Aldana and Nico Mark Brown all wordlessly converge together to move in flow within this whimsical, wordless indoor wonderland sporting Banana Republic’s winter line. Len Peltier, vp and creative director of Banana Republic, hopes the ad’s playfulness will appeal to a younger demographic to convey that the brand is for adults of all ages—it just depends on how you wear the clothes.

Cost Plus World Market, “The Tradition”
Agency: BarrettSF

“The Tradition” weaves a subtle reminder to consumers that Cost Plus World Market sells more than specialty goods in this simple 95-second tearjerker, a profoundly human narrative centered around a dad’s desire to pass on his childhood Christmas customs to his kids. The ad, which was actually released prior to Halloween, will continue to run on the Hallmark Channel and stream across Hulu this season.

Frito-Lay, “Share Your Favorite Things”
Agency: Frito-Lay

Have you ever wondered what Pitch Perfect and A Simple Favor star Anna Kendrick’s favorite things are? Thanks to this delightfully excessive Frito-Lay commercial/micro-musical, now you can—and it’s all set to the iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein tune. Unlike Julie Andrews’ list in The Sound of Music (or Ariana Grande’s in 7 rings), Kendrick’s includes: “Bright yellow Lay’s bags and noses frostbitten,” “Eating Doritos on big comfy couches” and “This Smartfood Popcorn all tied up with strings.” Back in November, Kendrick spoke to us all about her experience on the gloriously campy set.

Gap “The Hoodie”
Agency: Johannes Leonardo

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@monicroqueta monica.zorrilla@adweek.com Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.