Although it only seems like a matter of minutes since we were having BBQs and walking around without a coat (which it sort of was, as autumn 2014 was incredibly warm) Christmas is just around the corner. And if you needed any proof of this then just turn on the TV. The annual swathe of Christmas adverts is already upon us, with the usual tear jerking moments, warm feelings and even a little bit of controversy. But have the commercial giants behind the ads achieved their 2014 aims?
Sainsbury’s – World War One Christmas Truce.
Hit or Miss? Miss.
This has to be the most controversial of all the Christmas adverts this year, something that perhaps wasn’t intentional when the ad was put together. The short film focuses on the First World War and the moment when, during Christmas 1914, along the Western Front the two sides not only stopped fighting but also shared gifts and even played football together. It was of course a beautiful moment that painfully highlights the stupidity of war. However, the advert – although endorsed by the Royal British Legion – has not gone down well with the public. Why? It’s not the moment in history itself that is the problem, this is the centenary year of the war and there have been many attempts to mark it, but the context in which this piece of history is being used. 40 million men were killed lost or mutilated during the First World War and the Sainsbury’s advert has been accused of sugar coating this by making it all about that one moment and depicting none of the reality. However, perhaps the real issue here – which probably goes to the heart of nearly every advert ever made – is that it is using this painfully beautiful piece of history to flog us turkey, spuds and sprouts. Whether that’s appropriate or just a bit crass seems to be where the real argument lies.
John Lewis – Monty the Lovelorn Penguin.
Hit or Miss? Hit
Retailer John Lewis inevitably seems to come out on top with its Christmas ads, kicking most of the others to the kerb when it comes to pulling on the heartstrings. This year is no different with a little boy who imagines his stuffed penguin ‘Monty’ to life. All Monty wants is another penguin to love and at the end of the ad in a double whammy of teary moments, he gets a girlfriend as a Christmas present from the boy and then is revealed to be part of the boy’s sweet imagination – just a cuddly toy. With the incredibly lifelike penguins and the themes of love, giving and togetherness it’s very hard not to feel yourself welling up when you watch this. Whether or not it makes you want to shop at John Lewis though, that’s another question entirely.
And the best of the rest
Marks & Spencer’s ‘Follow the Fairies’ advert depicts two rather clumsy fairies busy at work making sure people get the gifts they actually want this year (i.e. those from M&S), rather than the alarm clock one unwitting man is wrapping for his girlfriend. A strong ad in that it manages to display plenty of M&S products, while still feeling a bit classy and not ‘in your face.’
Waitrose’s Gingerbread Stall Christmas ad focuses on its employee owned ethos and the quest for one girl to make the perfect Christmas gingerbread (using Waitrose ingredients of course). A bit more palatable than the average pile of schmaltz and a good lesson in determination for kids.
Aldi’s Everyone’s Coming To Us This Year offering pans along one long Christmas table that switches locations, from spaceships to fire stations to beaches, showing just how every Christmas can be catered by Aldi. The attempt to show the brand can provide for the luxury side of Christmas too is definitely supported by the presence of Jools Holland smiling cheesily at the end.