Ranking all of the 2020 Christmas adverts on how likely they are to make you cry
Only two moved me to actual tears… but which were they?
I’m a sucker for a Christmas ad. Things which I would normally turn my nose up at (piano covers of pop songs, animated children doing good deeds) can make me cry like a baby, purely by virtue of it being in a Christmas ad. Maybe it’s because they crop up when you least expect it – like mid way through an episode of Bake Off, or on your TL after a bunch of memes. Maybe there’s something specific about the festive season that just makes me a bit more weepy than usual (it’s the alcohol). There’s lots of possible explanations. But without fail, every year, there is at least one that makes me cry.
And it’s not just crying once. Hoooo no, every time this ad comes on the TV I will well up like I’m paid to do it. Like my tear ducts are oil reserves and that Christmas advert is British fucking Petroleum. “It’s a gusher!” they’d say as the John Lewis Christmas ad plays softly in the background and I silently blub away, hoping my family don’t notice for fear of me being called a melt. Again.
But this year…this year I have thoughts. Only two of the big 2020 Christmas adverts made me cry. People have let me down this year. I won’t say who yet, but the normal tear jerkers have not provided. So which 2020 Christmas adverts are actually the most likely to give you a good bawl (I am quickly running out of crying synonyms), you ask? Let’s take a look.
Right so the McDonald’s 2020 Christmas Advert is all about embracing your “inner child”. The core of the ad is that a teenage boy is too focused on being moody and obsessed with his phone/AirPods/game console/various electronics to love or respect his mother even when she does weird reindeer impressions at Christmas market. To be fair I’d ignore my mum if she pulled that shit.
Overall the whole concept screams “what if phones but too much” well… too much, and it forfeits a lot of its emotional pull because of that. Maybe the mums that put child lock on their WiFi are absolutely loving this ad, but not me. The only bit that made me slightly emosh was when the young boy became slightly less bratty once he was fed a McDonald’s. This I can relate to. Pure joy… but not bonafide, Christmas, cry-inducing joy.
Also Christmas ads are all about the pay off. That final moment where you clutch your heart and just sob. The pay off for this ad? Feeding a McDonald’s carrot snack bag to Santa’s reindeers. Aka what is universally recognised as the WORST item on the McDonald’s menu. Nah mate, even Santa’s reindeers would turn them down.
Tear jerker level: 2/10 only crying cos I want Maccies fries so bad right now.
This ad legitimately looks like an A24 film which is really great for like… aesthetics… but Christmas ads don’t need to be vibey, they’re not something you share on your Insta story, they’re something you look up from your phone for, mid-chew of a Quality Street, every time they’re on TV. They need to be saccharine, stupidly festive and make you feel equally distraught and hopeful.
Amazon managed to get a sneaky few Covid-19 references in there to tug on the heartstrings but as we all know, Covid sucks. I don’t need to be told again that Covid sucks. Really this ad was more of an Opera than a Christmas advert and I wasn’t sold, nor was I weeping. However, catch me four glasses of mulled wine deep and I’ll definitely shed a tear when “the show must go on” tagline floats amongst the snowflakes. Beautiful x
Tear jerker level: 4/10, all style no substance.
Not gonna lie, I didn’t even know Coke did Christmas adverts aside from the iconic THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING one which signals that decking the halls is now socially acceptable and Mariah can be released from her cage. But in terms of 2020 Christmas adverts, they really pulled out all the stops.
The ad opens with a dad leaving his family to work on a wind farm – which was a nice eco friendly touch – though my interest was mainly captured by the fact that he drives the same car as Bella Swan in Twilight. Then I felt oddly self conscious because it turns out the dad is quite fit, and I was apprehensive about crying in front of him. But then… the Coke advert took a turn. It became a MOVIE. A goddamn ODYSSEY. Coke went full The Revenant with this Christmas ad and made Mr Dad cross the seven seas and get chased by wolves just so he could deliver his daughter’s letter to Santa.
This is where I became briefly dubious of the Coke advert because the lengths this dad is going to are so great – and yet, ask yourself this: Does your dad wrap any of the Christmas presents? Ever? No. Dads can’t even manage wrapping Christmas presents, so I don’t think travelling the world in 80 days to deliver a letter is very realistic! (If your dad does wrap the Christmas presents please send your complaints, with proof of your father wrapping presents, to [email protected]).
But then I was brought back in. This man is at his wit’s end, he’s missed Santa’s window, the letter arrived too late! Hopes are dashed. Completely in bits. Headlights. A big red truck. Then… Santa! In the Coke truck! The holidays are coming! And to top it all off, the only thing on his daughter’s Christmas list was Dad coming home for Christmas. These final 3o seconds were too much for me and sent me fully over the edge. The floodgates opened, I started yowling like a cat and oh the tears, they did flow.
Tear jerker level: 10/10, evidence pictured below
Normally the whimper and wail extravaganza, the John Lewis advert this year was sublimely average. Maybe I’m biased because literally nothing can beat the Coke advert in my eyes now, but it just… didn’t do it for me? The multiple animation styles were cute, but I spent the first 30 seconds thinking about the pigeon on the branch and if his nose was deformed or if that’s what all pigeons look like, so that was pretty distracting.
Honestly, the best part of the advert was the song and that’s just not enough to pry my tear ducts open. Thanks Celeste for the beauty that is “A Little Love” but John Lewis… do better.
Tear jerker level: 5/10 – that wasn’t very Christmassy of you, John Lewis.
Much like Coke, I literally didn’t even know that Disney did Christmas adverts. I was very dubious of this one, probably just because I’m not a massive fan of Disney and I’m getting sick of all the animated children in 2020 Christmas adverts at this point. And yet… it pulled through.
We open with a child receiving a Mickey Mouse toy, which feels like a little bit too much like a symbol of capitalism to actually be sentimental, but the child passes it down to her granddaughter. A dog pulls one of the ears off, dickhead move, and the grandma is distraught. She’s also constantly making these weird star contraptions in sad silence and I just kinda ignored it… but then the pay off came.
The daughter fixed the toy, made a bunch of the star lanterns and made her animated gram-gram cry. It had everything you could want: a surprise element, elderly loneliness, selfish child turned caring, lots of bright colours. Classic Christmas advert. It may not be a British supermarket, but it had me BAWLING.
Tear jerker level: 8/10 not quite the Coke ad but good if you want to exorcise some salty water out of your eyes.