Commutes are getting quieter. The air is getting colder. Offices are slowing down ready for the holiday break. Christmas is well and truly upon us once again; bringing with it a whole host of traditions. While matching pyjamas or a “top – secret” family recipe for Christmas cake might be your most treasured tradition, there’s one that I hold very close to my heart.
The humble Christmas advert.
Okay, maybe I’m overstating the fact, but it goes without saying that Christmas ads exist as a class of their own. Never am I, an advertising professional, more passionate about advertising than during the holiday season.
They’re not all Christmas Crackers though, and so it’s time to bring back everyone’s favourite blog series: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
The King of Christmas
Like last year, I’d like to consider the John Lewis Christmas advert as a festive elite. As one of the UK’s most revered Christmas traditions, we can’t review it on the same scale as any other Christmas ads. However, unlike last year when I chose to keep it separate because it was a fairly disappointing placement, John Lewis’ 2019 ad is perhaps my favourite of the crop.
Perhaps I relate to Excitable Edgar too much. Perhaps I have too broad of a definition of what counts as cute. I don’t care, I would die for that adorable little dragon. Every time I see the Twitter ads that stemmed from the original tv slot, my face lights up. It’s good to see TV placements forming the basis of bigger campaigns on other channels – not something I noticed as much in previous years.
Beyond the main character, I also really enjoy the message of the campaign. Edgar has a big heart and is just misunderstood. His friend loves him regardless of his actions, and finds him the perfect gift to let him use his skills for good. A wholesome, cute advert. Just what the doctor ordered.
As we’ve seen with John Lewis, you can’t go wrong with a memorable character. That’s why I have a soft spot for Joules’ Christmas campaign which features two of the features of my childhood: Wallace and Gromit. Christmas is a time for nostalgia, and there’s something incredibly warm and fuzzy about seeing those two getting ready for Christmas. If I’m honest, I will actively seek this advert out to help put me in the holiday spirit and bring a bit of joy to my day.
Another highlight is the McDonald’s ad, an animation which sees young Ellie playing with Archie the Reindeer after her older sister Jenny declines to join in the fun. When Ellie runs out of “Reindeer treats” for Archie, the family (including her older sister) go to McDonald’s for more – where we see the animation switch to real life and find that Archie… well I won’t spoil it. This story is all about finding the joy of Christmas, watching as Jenny finds that spark again after seeing Ellie playing and drawing. It’s incredibly sweet, and the art style is gorgeous. A definite winner.
Alongside our Christmas crackers must also come our Christmas turkeys and there really are a few this year. The Peloton ad has already become infamous and needs no additional comment, but there are plenty of others on my naughty list this year.
Usually, I like the Tesco’s Christmas ad. They’re alright, I recognise the background music, they’re a solid middle ground. This year, I really didn’t enjoy the story and found myself switching off within a couple of seconds. Time-traveling delivery drivers brought nothing exciting to the table. Part of me knows I shouldn’t really have expected much more, but I’m disappointed none-the-less.
The top spot on my naughty list, however, is reserved for IKEA’s Silence the Critics advert. Grime Rapper “D double E” voices tacky knick-knacks, in the hopes to outline how easy and quick it is to order new furniture just in time for guests to come over. While it does achieve its message, it misses the mark on what Christmas is about: enjoying what you have, whilst surrounded by loved ones.
I have explicitly told my mother not to tidy for my holiday visit. I don’t care if the house is a mess, I just want to see her, and I really don’t want her stressing about the “state of the living room” for the next week. If your family and friends care about your house’s decor, you don’t need them in your life. Bad messaging IKEA. Expect nothing but coal in your stocking this year.
I’ve decided that, as Christmas is a time for celebration, I won’t be doing the “ugly” this time. Instead, I’m going to highlight the ones that made me ugly-cry by highlighting the charitable work that brands are doing this holiday season.
First on this list is Heineken’s Brewing Good Cheer, an initiative now in its fourth year. The company hosts events in pubs up and down the country, with this clip focusing on the staff of a food bank, and the residents at a dementia centre coming together for Christmas dinner – and a few surprises. It’s a lovely reminder of the importance of local community as well as the services that can often for its backbone.
Then there’s the Age UK campaign “No One Should Have No One To Turn To”, which raises awareness of the loneliness that comes with old age following a bereavement, or should they have to care for a loved one. Christmas can be an incredibly alienating time for this generation, and the Age UK billboard campaign does an amazing job of shedding some light on these difficult circumstances.
Christmas is the most magical time of year not just because of the snow and the presents, but also because I think it can show how we all pull together and support one another in times of need. It gives us that little bit of light in a world that can too often seem dark. As you can see from my commentary – that’s what I like the most in my Christmas ads.
From our office to yours: Merry Christmas.