Illustration by Nick DeSantis / Getty / The Current

The holidays have never come sooner. Earlier this month, major brands—from Amazon to Chick-fil-A—began debuting their holiday ads, with several coming weeks ahead of traditional schedules. Thanks to this year’s supply chain constraints, the messages are appearing everywhere there’s a screen, billboard, or page, enticing people to purchase early in case goods run out. Indeed, the frequency of out-of-stock notices surged by 250 percent in October 2021, compared to January 2020, or pre-pandemic, according to Adobe Digital Economy Index ecommerce holiday data.

Lured by early deals, consumers are already pulling out their online wallets. Adobe says $72.4 billion has been spent online in October, representing 8 percent growth year-over-year with major upticks in categories like toys, groceries, video games and gift cards.

While some campaigns work to inject some more cheer into these unprecedented times, others do not shy away from the struggles many are experiencing. Here’s a look at some of this year’s most significant spots:

Amazon

This year, the ecommerce giant’s holiday spot tackles some sensitive topics around the pandemic’s lingering effects on mental health, rather than being too festive or overtly cheerful. In the two-and-a-half-minute spot from ad agency Lucky Generals, a young woman connects with her neighbor over a shared love of birds amid anxiety around the world returning to a kind of normal. “Kindness,” reads the spot is, “The greatest gift.” Aligned with the launch of Amazon’s Christmas gift shop, the ad debuts “Hold On” from Adele’s new album “30” and is tailored for the U.S., U.K., Canadian and Australian markets.

Coca-Cola

In the brand’s heart-warming global holiday spot, a young boy creates his own chimney for Santa to use after moving with his mother to an apartment without one. His new neighbors all partake in the task, combining their cardboard boxes to create a mega-contraption the whole building can rely on. Topped with a Coca-Cola box and decorated with Christmas lights, the chimney brings the new neighbors together for a holiday celebration. The two-and-a-half-minute ad, created by ad agency Dentsu McGarrybowen’s London office, falls under Coca-Cola’s “Real Magic” campaign and is running in over 90 countries, supported with digital, influencer partnerships, local community initiatives, in-store activations and a partnership with Cameo where people can request personalized videos straight from Santa in the North Pole.

Macy’s

Remember Sunny the Snowpal? The department store chain is once again introducing a new character to its holiday ad campaign. This time, viewers meet Tiptoe, a blue reindeer who has a fear of flying. With some help from his friends, he’s able to believe in himself and take Santa soaring above the North Pole. Once the animation ends, we see a father telling the story to his daughter to comfort her before a flight to Grandma’s. The 90-second spot comes from ad agency BBDO and is another piece of Macy’s now 13-year-long Believe campaign. Tiptoe will also appear in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this year as well as in the department store’s flagship popular holiday windows.

John Lewis

The U.K. high-end department store chain is famous for its touching Christmas commercials, and this year “Unexpected Guest,” a 2-minute spot from ad agency Adam&Eve/DDB, tells the sweet story of a boy meeting a space traveler and their adventures together with themes of inclusion and connection, set to ‘80s pop hit “Together in Electric Dreams,” performed by singer Lola Young.

Lego

The Danish toy brand is once again back with its “Rebuild the World” campaign for the holidays, showcasing how kids’ creativity can change the world. Set to a version of The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup,” the 1:50 holiday spot created internally shows kids mixing and building on Lego’s catalogue of products. Star Wars stormtroopers retreat from a swarm of bees, dragons putting out fires and colorful cacti hugging balloons and a rocket ship blasting off as the Earth sits on an ice cream cone. The campaign will appear across a mixture of channels including TV, digital, social, ecommerce and out-of-home.

Peloton

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is retold in the fitness brand’s humorous holiday campaign where instead of three ghosts, Scrooge is convinced to repair his dark past thanks to a Peloton bike. “The gift of the Peloton bike did touch his soul–riding fast, flowing proud, getting hella swole,” says the voiceover. A series of three spots from ad agency Adam&Eve marks the brand’s largest spend to-date, reports Ad Age.

Chick-Fil-A

The fast feeder is out with yet another warm and fuzzy holiday campaign centered around a young girl named Sam, who previously gave the gift of time to her family and brought hope and light to her town. In this year’s animated spot, from agency of record McCann, Sam learns that mistakes and mess-ups can lead to amazing things in her hometown of Evergreen Hills. Sam and her friend CeCe break a family egg ornament and end up at “The Whoopsery,” a fix-it shop where “every mix-up, blunder and blooper is turned into something extraordinary,” as one of the characters explains to the girls. The pair are able to transform their broken egg into a new decoration for the tree. The spot is being shown on a campaign site EvergreenHills.com and on TV, cinema and social.

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