Commercials of Christmas Past

Posted by Joe Hektor on Dec 18, 2019 8:00:00 AM
Joe Hektor
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Christmas is an enchanting time of year when we are all filled with fond holiday memories. We all remember the sights, smells, and feelings of this special time, especially from the magical time of our youth. It comes as no surprise that these memories also include the plethora of commercials and advertisements that are ever present during the holiday season.

Advertisers have a lot to work with during the holidays, when everyone is a bit more willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of kinship and warm memories. We here at Sharp Wilkinson would like to share some Christmas commercials from the past that we remember as being particularly impactful.

Take a look and see if these commercials resonate with your Christmas past.


A Christmas ad that stands out to me is Folger's 1986 spot in which the main character (Peter) comes home for Christmas, sneaks in the house and starts a pot of coffee as everyone sleeps. The rest of Peter's family wakes up as the aroma of coffee wafts throughout the house. An emotional crescendo comes as Peter's mom walks down the stairs and realizes her son is home for the holidays. Cut to everyone enjoying coffee and stockings full of Christmas cheer. You gotta give this ad props. It blends the experience of coffee in the morning (which any coffee-addict can appreciate) with the sentimentality of being with your family during the holidays. And the proof of the ad's efficacy is in its shelf life -- a version of this original spot ran all the way up to 2005. Unfortunately, a newly-acquired Folgers launched a cringe-worthy redux of the ad in 2009. 




 Remember the 1993 commercial about the neglected child left for dead in a winter storm in his own front yard? Of course you do, it's still on the air in 2019. Naturally, I'm talking about the beloved Christmastime horror.... The Campbell's Soup Snowman. 

 Let's go over the plot: a crazed demon possesses a snowman gifting it human-like abilities: walking, ascending porches, opening doors, and, most frightening of all, eating soup (somehow).  It turns out, though, that the Snowman has gained sentience, committing a slow suicide in hopes that he can drag the demon back to Hell. But his efforts are in vain: as the snowman perishes, we find that the demon lives on—you've seen the look he gives the camera, right?—and now has free reign to exact his revenge on the household. 

 Joking aside, this is such a weird ad to me. This child was left out in the cold, not wearing a coat, yet wearing a scarf (he takes it off when he goes in). The boy is kicked out of the house into a blizzard, viciously assaulted and covered in snow, out there for who knows how long until he breaks back in—all this shows how awful this kid's parents are—and because he gets some canned soup with resurrection powers, I'm supposed to not call CPS? 




Hershey’s Kisses “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” commercial 1989 

The beauty of this advertisement is its simplicity. All that is seen on the screen, against a pure white backdrop, is ten red and green foiled Hershey’s Kisses arranged in a triangle—reminiscent of a Christmas tree—and one silver foiled Hershey’s Kiss acting as the tree’s trunk. Someone clears their throat and the action starts. Through the magic of stop-motion animation, the silver foiled Hershey’s kiss “conducts” the other ten Hershey’s Kisses (who become animated like handbells) through a rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. At the conclusion of the song, someone (assumedly one of the handbell kisses relieved that the performance went well) says “whew”. It’s amazing how much character is imbued into the Hershey’s kisses with a few simple motions of their paper plumes and the action of their handbell shaped bodiesand all of this happens in a mere 15 seconds. A truly memorable classic. 




In 1996, the M&M characters, Red and Yellow, came face to face with Ol' Saint Nick. The shock of the meeting between these mythological creatures was enough to make Santa Claus and Red fall unconscious. This left Yellow alone and us wondering what happened next. Was there going to be a Christmas? 

Years passed with no resolution. Somehow Christmas kept coming and the M&M characters continued their cannibalistic ways. 

Then in 2017 came “Faint 2: A Very Yellow Sequel”. Finally, an answer to what happened and how Christmas happened despite Santa Clause being unconscious.  

The original 1996 commercial is a classic and everyone probably remembers it well, perhaps because they have watched the same commercial for the twenty years before the sequel was released. But it is a cute commercial that ticks off all the boxes of a Christmas classic.




Apple aired a commercial for the iPhone 5 leading up to Christmas 2013.  Called “Misunderstood”, this clever and sentimental commercial opens with a seemingly slacker teen disengaged from the goings-on of family life, with his eyeballs constantly glued to his iPhone, except for a few fleeting moments.  

Following a full day of family activities including decorating a tree and frolicking in the snow, the teenager reveals to stunned family members a touching video he'd made of their Christmas merriment, something he’d been creating all day and unbeknownst to his family.  You could say that the teenager delivered the best gift of the day. 



We hope you enjoyed these little nuggets from Christmas past and possibly have thought of some of your own. Christmas brings out the best in commercials, so pay attention and share in the disbelief.



For an honorable mention I would like to present the shareable 2014 web commercial for

This might not be the classic heartwarming Christmas commercial you are used to, but it did a great job of utilizing humor and the ability to be shared on social media to become a viral hit. 



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