Christmas is the time of year when even supermarkets get sentimental. Whether it’s a fairy in training granting Christmas wishes, a determined child baking gingerbread men, a boy and his penguin or the Allies and Germans playing football on Christmas eve, this year’s Christmas adverts have brought many a smile and even a tear or two to the great British public.

And it’s not just telly this year, the competition for the biggest share of the Christmas market has taken to social media and in-store offers, as well. It seems to me to be the first (or certainly the most effective) crop of multi-channel Christmas ad campaigns I’ve ever seen. Take John Lewis, for example, the advert was launched on Facebook and Twitter before its widespread airing on TV, getting everyone talking about it and its now famous superstars, Monty and Mable the Penguins.

Only days after the advert first aired, ‘Monty’ was the most searched term on the John Lewis website and the penguin stuffed toys quickly sold out. At the time of writing, both the Monty and Mable medium plush toys (retailing at £12.00) were still out of stock. By mid-November, the advert had already surpassed the number of social media views from last year’s campaign with more than seven million views.

John Lewis is not alone in its multi-channel campaign success. Sainsbury’s poignant advert depicting the ‘Christmas Truce’ during WWI between the Allied and German soldiers has not only brought tears to our eyes, but has led to the sale of millions of commemorative chocolate bars with donations to the Royal British Legion. In the first few weeks following the airing of the advert in November, sales of the chocolate bars were averaging ‘about 5,000 an hour’ according to Sainsbury’s. By the end of November, the advert had racked up more than 12 million views on YouTube.

Combining television, online, social media and in-store offers is nothing new, but there are relatively few examples of big brands succeeding in this joined up approach. The combination of quality content across multiple channels, the spirit of the Christmas season and simple product tie-ins (penguin toys and chocolate bars) have all played a key role in capturing the hearts and minds of consumers. The total numbers of profits and charitable donations from both ad campaigns have yet to be determined, but I think it’s safe to say based on the success so far, these are the first truly multi-channel Christmas campaigns.