Christmas: not just a religious event

I’m going to keep posting about Christmas until you tell me to stop (disclaimer: I’ll then keep going).  It’s a never-ending topic at the moment: my days are filled with Christmas (music and stock) at work; my evenings are filled with the discussion of it (where we’ll be spending it, what we would like to receive, which ornaments will jostle for position on the tree).  This evening, adverts have taken pole position in the discussion stakes.

I’ve decided that Christmas adverts, on the whole, are like reality TV: they generally had their peak during an age of innocence, a time before brands realised the power of festive advertising, and how much milk (or is it eggnog?) the seasonal cash cow could produce.

Let’s start with the obvious.  Many of my friends term the Coca Cola advert as “iconic”, and have bought into the brand’s rhetoric that they alone symbolise the beginning of the holiday season.  In case you don’t own a television (for that must be the only reason you have missed this particular advertisement), you can see it here.  The Coca Cola juggernaut has amassed such a following that it has print and billboard versions, and you are now also able to, literally, buy the t-shirt.  I’m over it.

The other brand I’m comprehensively over in terms of (year-round) advertising is Marks and Spencer.  M&S, arguably, began the Christmas advert abuse by British brands.  They produced some of my favourite ever Christmas TV adverts, and when you revisit them for yourselves, I’m sure you’ll agree.  Take a seat, and enjoy the originally fantastic TV advert here (sadly, I can only find one – I remember another in the same style, but it is eluding me).  In 2013, the brand did what they are now famous for, aligning themselves with brands such as Chanel in terms of “event TV” – we now get adverts for adverts, warnings that “landmark” campaigns will be starting.  M&S ran an interactive element to their showpiece Christmas advert this year, asking fans to choose the name for the dog in the advert (the twee choice – Magic – went up against the childish option – Sparkle – cunningly the words the brand uses on their Christmas carrier bags).  The dog’s name was revealed when the advert ran during the season finale of Downton Abbey.  How contrived.  How crass and overdone.  Not only have M&S slain the golden goose, but they’ve also gone and burnt it to a crisp.

I am not among the ranks of people fawning over the offering from John Lewis this year.  Again, this is a case of the winning formula being replicated too many times.  I’ll admit, I adored the brand’s 2010 campaign when they first introduced their concept of telling the story of someone’s life through their products.  The idea, message and storytelling were on point, and it was followed up with a few watered down versions.  The advert lost it’s power and sense of cool slightly.  But John Lewis truly lost the plot for me with their 2013 Christmas advert, which seems to be more about Watership Down than anything else.  It would appear that Christmas 2013 is schmaltzy, rather than sparkly…

But then, from far on the horizon, came the distant but building sound of drumming hoofbeats.  The agencies had heard my tears of disappointment, and one was charging to the rescue.  A few years ago, I would not have believed you if you’d told me that Aldi would be our saviour.  But the brand which brought us this fabulously simple advert about fish fingers, followed by this brilliant piece about gin and this miracle of baby wipe promotions has triumphed again.  Congratulations, Aldi: Christmas 2013 is all yours.  Your golden goose is intact, please continue to follow appropriate care instructions (repeat the tested formula, but handle with extreme caution, and know when to stop) and for the love of sacred innocence, know when enough is enough.

Are you Team John Lewis?  Are you Team Aldi?  Did you vote for Magic rather than Sparkle and switch Downton off in disgust?  (You didn’t miss much, by the way).  Let me know which adverts you love and hate.

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One thought on “Christmas: not just a religious event

  1. Pingback: The X Factor | Kicking On

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