The Christmas ad. One of the most eagerly anticipated moments in marketing calendars across the UK. It’s even been called “Britain’s Super Bowl moment” as things get bigger, bolder and more heartwarming than ever.  And in what has been a difficult year of uncertainty for the nation, it’s a breath of fresh air to watch the likes of #ExcitableEdgar by John Lewis & Partners and Kevin the Carrot by Aldi light up our screens (in spite of the sprouts!) with childlike optimism, energy and a good old dose of fun.

But as we enter the 2020s – dubbed the decade of delivery in terms of doing good – the standout performers for us have been those rooted in the charity sector. So grab a mulled wine and have a look at what’s being done in this difficult climate to encourage people to donate to a good cause this Christmas. After all, social responsibility and cause-related initiatives – whether that be brand-led, charity-led or a partnership between both – need to be incorporated into how business is carried out in 2020.

First up: #LibbyLeftBehind by Cats Protection. A real tear-jerker, this encouraging animation follows Libby the cat who is abandoned and lost before being reunited with her siblings at Cats Protection. The fact that this is based on a true story is a stark reminder that the world can be a dark place but we can all play a part in tackling this. Thankfully the emotional roller coaster does finish up in a happy place, with Libby winning what all brands want to win – hearts as well as minds.

#AdoptABetterFuture by WWF builds on one of our all-time favourite brand campaigns: #FightForYourWorld. As with all the very best in brand comms, this is built on one tangible insight: we think we have time, but we are in fact the last generation that can do anything about the world we live in. It plays to the idea of consumer choice. Businesses, brands, consumers – we all need to make changes for a more sustainable future, and we are seeing news of these changes daily.

In #AdoptABetterFuture, that theme continues in force. We see a dark future animation capturing a jaguar running through a habitat on fire before a child chooses to take action and adopt a better future. It’s terrifying but full of hope at the same time, presenting not one but THREE ways we can help this Christmas: adopt, donate or join. The idea of engaging the young on the journey to change is a fascinating one that will play a greater role than ever before in marketing strategies over the next decade.

Last but not least: #SantasLittlestHelper by the RSPCA. Here we see a true rags to riches story as ‘Tiny’ Tink, a West Country rescue pony, becomes the star of the show. This is the second narrative based on true stories, further demonstrating that stark realities can be a platform for change. From narrative to music choice, it’s beautifully done with a strong call to action to help ‘stock the sleigh’ for the RSPCA by donating now.

Food for thought when it comes to writing your Christmas list this December, and of course to looking ahead at the role of cause-related marketing in 2020. Afterall, in 2018 Iceland did ‘that ad’ which blended cause with retailer mission, and this year we have seen significantly less of this in the big players style. With a new decade bringing with it a challenge and expectation for businesses and brands to step up in the ways they do good, will Christmas 2020 see a new focus from brands following the emotional benefit/purpose-led route that the causes have done so well this year?