Sometimes when a commercial is done just right, it becomes as memorable and loved as any other piece of entertainment. When brands find the sweet spot and can incorporate the right amount of humor, sentimentality, and wit into a spot for a product, the public eats it right up. (No pun intended.)
We went through the archives and found several Christmas commercials from the past few decades. Some of these continue to grace our small screens today, as the companies behind them have come to recognize that we associate these particular commercials with the holidays. Others you might not have seen in a while, but are absolute classics in one way or another. Chances are that you have formed memories not just around old Christmas cartoons and shows, but also around the advertisements that made them possible.
This spot from 1977 shows how much this retail giant’s advertising strategy has changed over the years. And, oh, is it dated. (The wallpaper! The dressing gown! The contrived poses!) But one thing hasn’t changed: Kmart prices.
Remember when 7-Up was a thing? Or at least enough at the forefront of people’s minds that they might actually want a refrigerator full of it for Christmas, as this 1980s ad suggests? Sure, it’s still around, but it’s probably not considered “the feeling of Christmas” anymore.
This beautifully animated commercial invokes the classic image of Santa jerking his head back so that he can get a good swig of that delicious Coca-Cola from a glass bottle. He, of course, follows it up with a wink and then a hug from the adoring children. Now that I have graduated into Santa, I actually wouldn’t mind it if the kids left a nice, cold, glass bottle of the beverage either.
This commercial is beloved to anyone who grew up owning an Atari, and also knowing who E.T. was — it is doubtful that there are many kids out there today who are in the loop on either of those. Nonetheless, we have little E.T. waddle into the house, fresh off his space craft, wearing a Santa outfit, and sitting down to play the “new” E.T. game on Atari. It doesn’t get any more ’80s than that.
Here is a brand that has stood the test of time. While most mailmen might appreciate a Starbucks gift card these days, chances are they wouldn’t balk at an M&Ms gift awaiting them in the mailbox. And come to think of it, M&Ms make an excellent stocking stuffer as well.
5. Hershey’s Kisses
This simple, beautiful commercial has aired often over the years. (I haven’t seen it yet this season, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.) We have those delicious little Kisses transformed into a bell choir. And who can forget that adorable little part at the end when the very hard-working Kiss wipes his (her?) brow with the little paper tag? Cutest spot ever.
4. Campbell’s Soup
This is another ad that tends to air every year when the mercury begins to drop. It was clearly shot in video and shows up pretty grainy on all of our high-definition televisions, but we forgive it because it reminds us of so many things: watching this ad as kids, the feeling of coming in from playing in the snow and being frozen to the core, and being comforted by a nice, hot bowl of soup.
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
This show plays every year (and it certainly does so quite often in my own house), so it can be easy to forget that it has been around since the ’60s. This commercial reminds us that at one point, the general public didn’t necessarily know what it was. It’s crazy to imagine a world where A Charlie Brown Christmas isn’t a tradition.
Ronald McDonald hardly ever makes it into McDonald’s commercials these days, so this ad is certainly a blast from the past. I distinctly remember watching this as a kid and wishing I could ice skate with the iconic mascot.
This spot often played during A Charlie Brown Christmas when I was young. All I ever wanted was this Draw and Do Desk because of it. I will forever associate Christmas cartoons with this product, and it totally pulls at my heart strings.