Christmas brings out the best and worst in the creative industries as we produce ads, videos and other projects that can be inspired or ill-advised, mawkish or actually touching, hilarious or cringeworthy.
Here at Digital Arts, we've sat through a lot of Christmas videos and read a lot of press releases to bring together this list of the ones you want to watch. As you'd expect, most that we were sent were deeply average – and overall the quality wasn't as high as previous years – but there were some real gems.
We'll kick off with the in-house promo projects (which are often more inspiring and funnier than the official ads).
Best Christmas agency videos 2015
The most anarchic and belly laugh-inducing in-house film is this animated short by Blue Zoo, best known for creating kids TV show Q Pootle 5.
The studio has also released a making of film for More Stuff.
Superstar VFX house Framestore has made some of the best in-house Christmas videos, including last year’s rather wonderful Project X that even roped in its Gravity's Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Tim Webber and CEO Sir Willian Sargent. This year’s animated film above love and penguins isn’t in the same league, but will still give you a giggle.
The CEO of Publicis Groupe makes a holiday message video for employees of the advertising network every year, but this time he’s forced his way into some spoof commercials so that people pay attention to what he has to say. We can't embed it, but you can watch it here.
Seed Animation’s Christmas message is well constructed though we get the feeling we’re not quite getting it.
Best Christmas ads 2015
For the past few years, John Lewis has created the Christmas ads that everyone talks about – but this year they've been trumped by this rather dark ad for German supermarket Edeka, in which... well, just watch it and find out.
JL's own ad is everywhere – just like their retargeted ads that chase you round the web if you ever visit their website. Though made it collaboration with Age UK (with VFX by The Mill), it's touching story was a little negated by something even Edeka's ad understands – that Christmas is about family being together not buying stuff. Also, Aldi did a very funny parody.
Touching in a different way is this online ad for Pornhub.
Sainsbury’s Christmas ad is also obviously inspired by the emotional pull of last year’s penguin-starring John Lewis ad – and the way the associated merchandise can pull customers into stores. But it’s a bit hard to get annoyed with a story based around Judith Kerr's beloved Mog.
CGMeetup has posted an official – ie marketing-heavy – making-of clip that includes interviews with VFX house Framestore (them again) about creating its VFX.
For a more authentic feel, check out this ad for Albert Heijn, a supermarket in the Netherlands.
We’ve all been there, caught between childhood and adulthood – though the nostalgic feel is perhaps telling, as older kids this year would probably just go online to play Minecraft with their friends.
Zulu Alpha Kilo created this rather sweet animated short for Cineplex, to be shown before movies over Christmas by the US-based cinema chain.
Back in the UK, this isn’t an official Christmas ad – it’s probably not even a viral, as we doubt Coca-Cola would sign off on the rather excited swearing at the end – but this demo of the lovely plastic-wrap-craft built into diabetes-sized bottles of Coke is genuinely delightful.
Beakus' Nativity-themed ident for CBeebies is rather sweet.
Finally, this spot for Scrabble is clever enough to push past the over-sentimentality.