AdTurds Bad Adverts – Badverts

16Nov/1411

Best And Worst Christmas Adverts 2014

John-Lewis-monty the penguin

So, here we are again. It's still six weeks before Christmas Day, but the phony war starts earlier and earlier every year now. Christmas provides a unique and irresistible opportunity for brands to give themselves a boost going into the next year - a little bit like striking the first metaphorical blow at the press conference that precedes a bout of boxing, or invading Belgium.

In light of the collapse of Western civilisation that the Big Four supermarkets losing market share apparently constitutes, brand equity and brand power is ever-more important as our beloved high-street (not to mention out-of-town industrial estate) goes through a fundamental structural correction. Communicating what makes you different, better or cheaper than your rivals - and getting people to buy into that idea - is where it's at these days and television adverts are the primary weapon.

The money that buys prime advertising space - charged at up to £250,000 per advert for the best slots in the week or so before the big day - could probably fund a medium-sized African dictator for a year, so high are the stakes.

We live in the age of the multi-platform campaign so the power of the hashtag - not to mention multi-million quid cinematic featurettes - have been deployed this year amid a massive social media push to engage the yoof with ahh! and LOL! and WTF! moments: a penguin in love; fairies delivering bribes to Twitter users; a global war in which 20 million people died...

2014's Christmas adverts are the opening salvos in a new campaign - the campaign to see who lays the most convincing claim for the ground they want to inhabit for the next few years. Fittingly - but also tastelessly - many newspapers and blogs describe this as a battle of the Christmas adverts. Fittingly because it undoubtedly it is a battle, possibly for survival for some players; tastelessly because this year Sainsbury's has decided that it will use trench warfare as its setting for its Christmas advert.

It's a little bit like bringing a live grenade to a custard pie fight - poor old Monty the Penguin looks a bit stupid when you line him up next to the hot young cast of the Sainsbury's advert, whose real-life counterparts - unlike Monty, Jools Holland or Ant & Dec - were largely mown down by machine-gun fire once the cameras stopped rolling.

Similarly, everyone else is rather left in the wake of the Sainsbury's advert, like rubber ducks in a bath bombed by the Enola Gay. As a result of Sainsbury's fearless approach to adopting mass killing as a backdrop to a Christmas advert, I look forward to the supermarkets employing the Cambodian genocide, Balkan conflict, Al Qaeda terrorist atrocities and the Aberfan disaster in their adverts over the next year.

No doubt the likes of Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK, would say call this strategy 'risky' - but on the whole I can only assume he'd approve. In these days, when the only arbiter as to what is considered an appropriate advert is how well it plays on social media, when acceptance on Twitter is the only validation required, it's the logical - the only - conclusion.

I saw the Sainsbury's advert breathlessly referred to as The Advert To End All Adverts, which would be quite witty, if not for its fundamental cuntishness. And it makes me wonder - if they think this is OK, what else is around the corner?

So, Merry Christmas. In the event that you aren't blown apart by a stray advert or simply shell-shocked at the horror of it all, do let me know which is your favourite below.

Christmas Adverts 2014

Aldi

Aldi's first real misstep when it comes to advertising. The German brand has made a success of its brand proposition and physical offering by explicitly not doing what the Big Four have done since the year dot. Until now, where they sign up to the 'me too' brand of supermarket Christmas advert with a battleship's weight worth of food and a crap celeb (Jools Sodding Holland). There's the Gin Granny from a very early ad, when Aldi ads were still excellent, but fundamentally this is as forgettable as every other Xmas ad out there. Truly, Aldi has arrived.

Rating: 2/5

Argos

Who associates hip-hop with Christmas? This chilly, charmless and actively aggravating spot for Argos does at least have the distinction of ditching the unloved Bill Nighy and Caroline Quentin-voiced sperms. A fundamentally horrible advert all told, though.

Rating: 1/5

Asda

There's always something a bit no-nonsense about Asda's advertising, which rather suits the brand. Here's an advert that basically says 'if we're shelling out a million quid then we're damn well going to actually advertise stuff'. A little like an Asda shop then: a necessity that you're glad is over the second it is.

Rating: 2/5

Boots

Can't argue with this one and as members of my close family frequently find themselves working on Christmas Day - meaning that the extended fam has often celebrated on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day to facilitate the best possible experience for them - I can relate. A nice ad, well intentioned and well made.

Rating: 4/5

Debenhams

Frankly Debenhams only enters my consciousness once a year when I'm compiling these lists, but it is the season of good cheer so they're making an appearance. Verdict: inoffensive.

Rating: 3/5

Iceland

Call it a concession, an admission of defeat or even a cry for help. Perhaps it's just recognition of what and where Iceland is. Profoundly not aspirational, not middle-class, not classy. Oh, what's that speeding away into the distance? It's Aldi and Lidl. Cheap, cheesy - Magaluf in supermarket form.

Rating: 1/5

John Lewis

As exciting, predictable and emotional as a Stephen Hendry tournament win in the mid-1990s. A triumph of efficiency - and that's all.

Rating: 2.5/5

Lidl

An extension of the Lidl Differences series of ads that have been running, where poshos are surprised to find the lovely nosh they've been hoying down their gobs is from that downmarket place near the estate. Minus points for the almost-subliminal smattering of words like 'value' throughout, which reminded me of this.

Rating: 2/5

Littlewoods

Myleene Klass and Christopher Biggins as brand ambassadors. Crikey - what statement is being made there?. At face value there's nothing particularly wrong with this; look closer and Myleene is busy turning beautiful, original, interesting wares at what looks like a Persian bazar into the sort of cheap and tacky shit with which you'd associate Littlewoods. Which isn't a great message, really.

Rating: 2/5

Marks and Spencer

An expensive checklist of Christmas advert staples rendered as efficiently and lovelessly as a wall in a Barratt Home is plastered.

Rating: 2/5

Morrisons

Utterly forgettable which, given that Morrisons is by far the least visible of the Big Four, is something of a problem. Just like their stores, I don't know what's supposed to set them apart. And if you employ the original cheeky chappies of television in Ant and Dec, why isn't your ad a little irreverent, like it was last year?

Rating: 2/5

Sainsbury's

A beautiful slice of exploitative, offensive supermarket propaganda.

Rating: N/A

Tesco

Tesco has never done Christmas ads well - coming as it does in the midst of the supermarket's biggest crisis in decades it just serves to enhance the suspicion that it's lost sight of what it is, what its strengths are and what the core message is.

Rating: 1/5

Waitrose

Waitrose generally bucks the trend and this sets it apart from the rest of the pack nicely. Giving, showing resolve, employee stakeholding - there's a message I can get behind at this time of year. Truly abysmal soundtrack, like, but you can't have everything.

Rating: 4/5


• Refresh your memories of the best and worst Christmas adverts – sob pitifully at advertising or enrage yourself to vein-throbbing standards – of previous years

Best and Worst Xmas Ads of 2013

Best and Worst Xmas Ads of 2012

Best and Worst Xmas Ads of 2011

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  • Molly

    Ha ha i wrote none on others

  • Molly

    Ha ha i wrote none on others

  • Onmebike

    Yes I was there, ruthlessly trampling on the weak and frail to get my paws on a cheap telly.

    Four weeks of sickening schmaltz from the advertisers, culminating in Sainsburys exploiting the suffering of millions in the horrors of The Great War just to sell me stuff, led to me putting a foot through the screen in outraged anger.

    Ironically, In a very real sense the ads worked.

    • Paul LJ Catlow

      could be we’re being conditioned here. The Russians spent a lot of 2014 giving the impression they intended to celebrate the centenary of 1914 by launching a full-scale re-enactment, beginning in Kiev. That’s still bubbling under – better late than never, Mr Putin? We’ve got the ISIS business in the MidEast – get the trigger-happy Israelis involved (and they spent much of 2014 smashing Gaza flat, a true case of swatting a fly with everything short of nukes) and then it pulls in the Yanks (fuelled by foaming-at-the-brains evangelists demanding a Holy War and Armageddon).

      What’s the betting that in the almost-worst scenario, next Christmas is going to see a lot of British soldiers sitting in a trench somewhere hoping the people opposite also recognise Christmas and might welcome a breather? (If it’s the Russians, their church holds over most of its celebrations into January…) My cynical pessimist mind wonders if this is prepping us up for it. Sainsburys would earn a lot by supplying the troops in an all-out war..(as its advert reminds us, they did in 1914)..

  • Onmebike

    Yes I was there, ruthlessly trampling on the weak and frail to get my paws on a cheap telly.

    Four weeks of sickening schmaltz from the advertisers, culminating in Sainsburys exploiting the suffering of millions in the horrors of The Great War just to sell me stuff, led to me putting a foot through the screen in outraged anger.

    Ironically, In a very real sense the ads worked.

    • Paul LJ Catlow

      could be we’re being conditioned here. The Russians spent a lot of 2014 giving the impression they intended to celebrate the centenary of 1914 by launching a full-scale re-enactment, beginning in Kiev. That’s still bubbling under – better late than never, Mr Putin? We’ve got the ISIS business in the MidEast – get the trigger-happy Israelis involved (and they spent much of 2014 smashing Gaza flat, a true case of swatting a fly with everything short of nukes) and then it pulls in the Yanks (fuelled by foaming-at-the-brains evangelists demanding a Holy War and Armageddon).

      What’s the betting that in the almost-worst scenario, next Christmas is going to see a lot of British soldiers sitting in a trench somewhere hoping the people opposite also recognise Christmas and might welcome a breather? (If it’s the Russians, their church holds over most of its celebrations into January…) My cynical pessimist mind wonders if this is prepping us up for it. Sainsburys would earn a lot by supplying the troops in an all-out war..(as its advert reminds us, they did in 1914)..

  • GeoNeil

    Am I the only one who thinks that Aldi’s advert looks too much like Iceland’s usual Christmas efforts? And to think Iceland is looked down on while Aldi is somehow viewed at some sort of cut-price Waitrose.

    I don’t know what Argos are doing with their adverts, trying to send themselves upmarket? I suppose it would have been cool in 1996 and the cool kids of 1996 are the middle-aged demo that Argos will be targeting I guess.

    Nothing special about Asda’s advert, perfunctory.

    Boots seem to be going for the human factor in their adverts, just like last year.

    The bloody Frog Chorus! What’s Christmassy about the bloody Frog Chorus?!

    And why do Iceland have Peter Andre shopping at there stores, is anybody going to believe that he actually goes there? Still, you can say one thing about Iceland knowing who their customers are, they’ll be going to Iceland should the economy ever pick up and the poshos remind themselves that Aldi and Lidl are still cheap.

    Lidl doing the sort of advert that Iceland should be doing, except that if it was iceland, those poshos would have been choking on their vol-au-vents instead of oohing at the value and the quality and the value and the taste and the value.

    Ah yes, Myleene Klass, the woman who is just too rich to pay tax on HER spare bedrooms, as the face of Littlewoods, the company that killed Santa (and blamed on the Labour party)

    Should’t that Marks & Sparks advert have ended with the woman shouting “GIZ ME HAT!!”? I’m pretty sure that’s how it would have ended in Deckham.

    Morrison’s, errrm… already forgotten it… and Ant and Dec, please don’t sing.

    Sainsbury’s – actually a lovely short film, as long as you forget that it’s a sodding advert. All of a sudden I have the sudden urge to watch Joyeux Noel… to be honest, considering what year this is, I’d have actually been more surprised if Christmas 1914 wasn’t the subject of at least one Christmas advert.

    Tesco’s advert – the theme LIGHTS, though what makes them think the population of anywhere actually big enough to be served by a large Tesco store (as opposed to a a disused former sub post office and a solitary bus stop served once a day by a minibus chartered by a taxi firm with no subsidy from the local council) would turn up to turning on the lights at the local Tesco?

    Waitrose making a wonderfully charming advert of the sort that the Co-Op would have been making if they didn’t have to sell themselves out after been ran by a coke snorting conman.

  • GeoNeil

    Am I the only one who thinks that Aldi’s advert looks too much like Iceland’s usual Christmas efforts? And to think Iceland is looked down on while Aldi is somehow viewed at some sort of cut-price Waitrose.

    I don’t know what Argos are doing with their adverts, trying to send themselves upmarket? I suppose it would have been cool in 1996 and the cool kids of 1996 are the middle-aged demo that Argos will be targeting I guess.

    Nothing special about Asda’s advert, perfunctory.

    Boots seem to be going for the human factor in their adverts, just like last year.

    The bloody Frog Chorus! What’s Christmassy about the bloody Frog Chorus?!

    And why do Iceland have Peter Andre shopping at there stores, is anybody going to believe that he actually goes there? Still, you can say one thing about Iceland knowing who their customers are, they’ll be going to Iceland should the economy ever pick up and the poshos remind themselves that Aldi and Lidl are still cheap.

    Lidl doing the sort of advert that Iceland should be doing, except that if it was iceland, those poshos would have been choking on their vol-au-vents instead of oohing at the value and the quality and the value and the taste and the value.

    Ah yes, Myleene Klass, the woman who is just too rich to pay tax on HER spare bedrooms, as the face of Littlewoods, the company that killed Santa (and blamed on the Labour party)

    Should’t that Marks & Sparks advert have ended with the woman shouting “GIZ ME HAT!!”? I’m pretty sure that’s how it would have ended in Deckham.

    Morrison’s, errrm… already forgotten it… and Ant and Dec, please don’t sing.

    Sainsbury’s – actually a lovely short film, as long as you forget that it’s a sodding advert. All of a sudden I have the sudden urge to watch Joyeux Noel… to be honest, considering what year this is, I’d have actually been more surprised if Christmas 1914 wasn’t the subject of at least one Christmas advert.

    Tesco’s advert – the theme LIGHTS, though what makes them think the population of anywhere actually big enough to be served by a large Tesco store (as opposed to a a disused former sub post office and a solitary bus stop served once a day by a minibus chartered by a taxi firm with no subsidy from the local council) would turn up to turning on the lights at the local Tesco?

    Waitrose making a wonderfully charming advert of the sort that the Co-Op would have been making if they didn’t have to sell themselves out after been ran by a coke snorting conman.

  • ‘Other’ answer thus far include the following – I can’t claim to understand all of them:

    very
    RON
    DFS
    None of the above
    Vodafone
    There all shite
    they’re all cunty bollocks
    All are effing crap
    They are all shite
    none
    GO COPERE
    Mulberry
    cunts
    victoria biscuits
    NONE
    The Sex

  • ‘Other’ answer thus far include the following – I can’t claim to understand all of them:

    Vodafone
    they’re all county bollocks
    There all shite
    RON
    None of the above
    All are offing crap
    DFS
    The Sex

  • Disgruntled of Dunstable

    I think that they are all awful and I wish to remove them from my memory, using force if necessary.

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