Thought Leadership

Advertisers to spend £9.5bn in festive ad bonanza

The UK advertising market’s annual Super Bowl moment is budget busting according to the Advertising Association and WARC

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


Marketing’s festive advertising spending spree is set to hit a record £9.5bn this Christmas, according to new data from the Advertising Association (AA) and WARC.

This is a 4.8% increase from last year’s record spend of £9bn and demonstrates the continued importance of advertising to the economy during the festive period. It underlines the central role of advertising to the UK’s vibrant Christmas culture.

This year’s festive spots have included Saatchi & Saatchi’s first work for John Lewis featuring a Christmas character no one could have predicted. While Boots and VMLY&R delivered a heartwarming festive tale, Asda turned to the big festive bubbles of Michael Bublé

The economic firepower of commercial creativity 

Further research conducted by the Advertising Association for this year’s Christmas advertising season revealed nearly half (48%) of all adults credit Christmas ads with helping to spark gift ideas.

Notably, it’s not just people who work in advertising who get excited by Christmas ads. According to the research, 70% of young adults (25-34) find Christmas ads to be the ultimate festive mood booster.

Notable trends in advertising spend for the Christmas season include year-on-year growth in broadcast Video on Demand (BVOD) which leads the way with a 20.2% increase in spend.

The festive period has also boosted the out-of-home advertising sector with a 10.3% increase in advertising investment. Followed by online display ads which grew 9.1% growth year on year. The data means that four out of five pounds of marketing spend is now spent on online advertising.

Television advertising remains significant, with a predicted spend of £1.5 billion on TV during the quarter.

Many of the UK’s biggest brands will release blockbuster Christmas ads this year including companies such as John Lewis, Boots, and Tesco. Sainsbury’s has 80s legend Rick Astley in its Christmas ad, while Aldi has brought back Kevin the Carrot for the 8th year. The festive ads appear across a series of days and weeks during November and into early December, following a well-established pattern between advertisers, agencies, and media owners.

Sharon Lloyd Barnes, Commercial Director, Advertising Association, explained:  “Christmas advertising is an integral part of the festive season. From offering gift ideas to inspiring holiday cheer, the annual display of brand creativity consistently entertains and warms hearts.”

She continues: “One of advertising’s major roles is to help people choose between products and services. Whether it’s an outdoor ad for a local Christmas fair, or a big budget campaign for a high street brand, advertising is there to help people know about the options available to them.”

Matt Bourn, Communications Director or the Advertising Association, added:  “Whether you’re a big high street store or a small local business, Christmas advertising is essential to attracting customers, helping to inspire ways people can enjoy the festive season and supporting jobs across the UK.”

He continued: “The ads we will see this year will be among top contenders for some of the best ads worldwide, going onto win awards and reinforcing the UK’s position as a global hub for advertising, creativity, and storytelling.”