AdTurds Bad Averts – Badverts –

21Nov/152

Show People You Care This Xmas – Don’t Buy Anything

wwe christmas advert

I'm not a fruitcake. I don't live in a hovel and only come out to shake a fist at the rest of the world. I have never actually killed anyone involved in advertising, nor do I intend to. In most respects I'm a normal human being, despite this blog being apparently written by someone with only a passing familiarity with sanity.

I shop at Tesco and I love driving fast cars and I eat meat and I'm probably a hypocrite in the things I rail against. It's basically modern life. You can't realistically escape sanctioning - even in a tiny way - egregious things through your wallet. Forget voting - in this day and age the money in your pocket and what you choose to do with it is realistically the most power you have. But there's little doubt I probably buy clothes made in sweat shops, eat food grown on the other side of the world and burn petrol more eagerly than most. That's life, frankly.

But it doesn't mean that I shrug my shoulders at this stuff. It doesn't mean that I don't try to mitigate my impact on the world: to support local business, put out the recycling and turn the lights out when I leave the room. I don't eat foie gras, I buy The Big Issue, I try to avoid the companies I find most distasteful and I sign petitions. I'm probably rather quaint in that I try to boycott companies I know do bad stuff: News International, Shell, Amazon, Russell Howard... In my own way I do my best to be good person.

These are tiny acts of protest against a world increasingly geared up to turn its own natural resources into cheap, tacky shit and then burn it. To turn leopards and rainforest and puffins into DVD boxsets and burgers and Beats By Dre headphones. And there's not a huge amount more than any one of us can do. But I've hit upon a realisation in years past that makes me a lot happier with the insanity of globalised capitalism.

I don't need anything else. I don't need any more DVDs, I don't need another car, I certainly don't need more clothes and I'm not going to but that Dolce Gusto coffee maker. Why? Because I've got everything I could possibly need. And getting more things doesn't make me happier. It doesn't make you happier either. It just doesn't - and this is perhaps the most important realisation you will ever make. Because this realisation, inversely, will make you feel happier.

I don't ask for anything at Christmas. When people ask what I want, I tell them I don't want anything. Let's put the money towards a nice meal or a day out instead. Or save it for a weekend break or next year's Summer holiday. But I don't need a thing to prove to me that other people care about me. Apart from Adidas trainers, but we'll gloss over that.

I'm not stupid though. I'm not blind to the idea that other people might not feel the same way - that we're used to seeing the giving of gifts as an expression of love. That's fine by me, because I rather like giving people presents. But the idea that I will give someone an electrical device, a box-set of Game Of Sodding Thrones or an item of clothing they almost certainly don't want or need seems, to me, totally bonkers.

I like giving people books, food and booze. Second-hand books particularly that I know - I know - someone will love. I like giving people ornaments or curios from little craft shops - I bet you know one in your town struggling to keep its head above water. Gift memberships. Stuff that has been handmade, just for them. Art, music - or just a memento. I make sloe gin and I make jars of chutney. I know an independent wine merchant and buy amazing plonk from him. I know independent brewers and bakers and will be paying them a visit. I especially like giving to charity in their name. There's probably one or two people on the receiving end of this stuff who think I'm a self-righteous tightwad, but these are the sort of things I find that people really appreciate.

So those are the things I give. And they're the reasons I find adverts - especially adverts at this time of year - so obnoxious. Their reason to exist is to stop us being more thoughtful, more considerate. And to make us drop £50 on a load of old shit. Have you seen the shit they sell at Iceland? The high-stacked dross you couldn't possibly need at Aldi and Lidl? And the sheer amount of leather gloves, novelty olive oils and decorative... things. These habits are hard to break - but if we don't break them we will destroy this planet and everything in it. The new WWF advert spells it out in appalling, terrifying and shameful statistics. All that fucking rubbish you have piled up in your house has been made by burning the planet.

You can make yourself feel a bit better - or make someone else feel a bit better - by chipping in a few quid here and there. A tiny blow against the modern world, against a military-industrial complex that we know is as mad as George Osborne, with his little Roman Emperor haircut and glinting eyes, is all you can hope for. But it's better than nothing. And it's better than an ironic Minion lunchbox.

Show someone you care this Christmas - don't buy them anything.

• Here are five amazing gifts - or places where you can buy them - this Christmas

Give nature a home through an RSPB gift membership

Adopt an endangered animal for someone through the WWF

Buy a meal for a homeless person through Crisis

Help ensure our National Trust parklands don't get sold off to developers with a gift membership - or help preserve our best and oldest buildings

Buy fair-trade products from around the world through Traidcraft or Oxfam

15Nov/159

Best And Worst Christmas Adverts 2015

best worst christmas adverts 2015

There's nothing particularly complicated about making Christmas adverts - in fact it's easy. In the same way there only seven types of plot there are three types of Christmas advert. That's all. Every single one of them fits into one of these archetypes. These are they.

1. Non-existent Christmas-land full of lovely independent boutiques, gorgeous town houses and beautiful women stalking through town on their way to a party. Along the way we get to see all the various Christmas wares that will be eaten on Christmas Day and/or gifts that will be bought along the way. A celebrity chef may feature.

Typical users: Debenhams, Boots, Marks & Spencer

2. Crash-bang-wallop affair that makes no effort to romanticise the season but plays to the hedonistic indulgence of the senses Christmas amounts to. A cheap celeb or 'real' family may feature.

Typical users: Lidl, Aldi, TK Maxx, Asda, Iceland

3. Guilt-tripping grief-porn debacle that tries to make you sad before making you feel a little bit happy. A charity may be involved.

Typical users: John Lewis, Sainsbury's, Waitrose

See if you can spot which of the following fit in the above categories.

Argos Christmas Advert

A sort of low-rent James Bond mountain chase where, instead of a diamond that focuses a city-destroying laser beam, Bond is trying to spirit away a Dolce Gusto percolator from under the nose of Russian henchpeople.

Aldi Christmas Advert

Once upon a time Aldi's adverts were innovative, funny and disruptive - they existed as a kind of two-fingered salute to the established supermarkets. No more. This is the equivalent of just throwing everything you can find in the cupboard into a slow cooker and hoping some sort of alchemy happens. It doesn't, but it just about passes muster.

This advert is a touchstone for how Aldi now sees itself sitting at the top table. A triumph of 'me too' marketing.

It also features one of the worst vocal performances ever, apparently by someone called Jade Williams, doing that 'posh urchin' thing that Lily Allen has made so famous. Here's what an AdTurds reader typed into their browser in relation ti: 'who is singing on that fucking irritating aldi christmas ad?'.

Asda Christmas Advert

"Fuck it, it's Christmas," is the message from this Asda advert. It has the benefit of looking, feeling and sounding different to pretty much everything else out there. On the other hand we might as well be watching a forest fire in Indonesia overlaid with the words 'eat a mince pice'.

Boots Christmas Advert

Boots have located the only unused Christmas song in existence. I've always felt that the chemists has been among the more unlovely front-end stores so the cognitive dissonance is huge. If we saw a hellish packing factory in Warrington in the ad instead I'd have more respect.

Debenhams Christmas Advert

I'm sorry Debenhams, I've nothing against you at all. I just don't care about this advert and I have no idea what your brand proposition is beyond 'not John Lewis'. Apparently the voices in the advert are Dawn French, Matthew Horne, Jamelia, James Nesbitt and Sarah Milican. I didn't even realise - apart from Nesbitt's patented smarm. I think that says it all, frankly.

Harvey Nichols Christmas Advert Christmas Advert

A cute idea - but that doesn't stop it being fundamentally obnoxious. "Buy your family more expensive shit, lest they hate you," sums it up.

John Lewis Christmas Advert Christmas Advert

A shameless dash for a slice of the self-indulgent Christmas sentiment pie as there's ever been.

Littlewoods Christmas Advert

It's kind of to Littlewood's credit that they've stuck with multi-millionaire Myleene Klass following her shrill, Tory-briefed attack on progressive taxation last year. Nothing speaks to me more than a very wealthy, entitled brat who doesn't want to pay their taxes, I must say.

Given that Littlewoods' target audience are probably not holidaying in Gstadt that's a brave move. The advert suggests that Christmas is all about buying your loved ones smartphones to show you love them - brings a tear to the eye. Also amusing given that Myleene recently said: "I want my children to receive yo-yos and give yo-yos, not Kindles."

For the worst Christmas advert of all time, of course, check out this Littlewoods advert from 2011.

Lidl Christmas Advert

This is about as good as it gets this Christmas - extraordinarily it's one of the very few that doesn't put naked consumption front and centre. By taking a more sideways view it's essentially taken Lidl out of the meat-grinder of head-to-head battle seen elsewhere. As a result it's one of the few that displays any evident charm.

Marks & Spencer Christmas Advert

M+S by the numbers, which is to say it has the usual effect of acting like a sonic weapon. You get the feeling Marksies simply resurrects its robots from last year, programmes them to do their 'stalking towards the camera like materialist zombies' thing to whatever latest funny tune they've thrown a billion tonnes of pounds at and rearranges some snazzy visuals. A huge, crushing deadweight of hideousness shot in a vast warehouse in Hemel Hempstead. In August.

Matalan Christmas Advert

'Made for modern families' strikes me as a very 'austerity' Christmas message. David Cameron beating his fist on a lectern and talking about 'working people' while snatching the very tax credits that make life liveable. George Osborne closing down a SureStart centre, library or nursing home and offering you a Santa Gift Set in their place. Michael Gove as Santa Claus. Blech.

Morrisons Christmas Advert

Morrisons seems to hang on for dear life to its 'market within a really big building' shtick. I'm uncertain on what I make of this - if it gives staff a bit more control over their lives and engagement with their jobs then fair enough. It's also worth pointing out that Morrisons are the only other supermarket to offer staff above-minimum-wage earning, alongside Lidl. Does that ensure customer loyalty in this day and age though? I'd like to think so.

Sainsbury's Christmas Advert Christmas Advert

A bloated and charmless Looney Tunes sketch on a bazillion-quid budget that can't help but feel artificial and antiseptic. Bad CGI, worse characterisation and just a cynical Pixar-lite blancmange of schmaltz right in the face, hiding behind a veil of charity. Absolutely horrible.

Tesco Christmas Advert Christmas Advert

In wich Jay from Inbetweeners tries to chat up a lady probably described in the pitch as a 40-year-old scorcher. Not sure it's wise of Tesco to openly reference MILFs, but there you are. I'd like to image the young lad in question later describing to his mates how he did her in the gob, then the fanny, then the gob again.

TK Maxx Christmas Advert

A nice sentiment, but if you were to give random strangers a Christmas present from TK Maxx I'd expect nothing less than a restraining order in return.

Toys R Us Christmas Advert

Toys R US had a sort of nervous breakdown a few years ago when it ditched its familiar 'there's a magical place...' adverts for a yankified rap, perhaps the greatest act of self-sabotage in marketing history. This one is also unlovely, but at least it makes sense.

Very.co.uk Christmas Advert

One of those videos where a different soundtrack - one suggesting something ominous and terrible was at hand - would completely change the nature of this advert. Just imagine when they get there, the little boxes smash people's heads to death. Still, it's innocuous enough.

Waitrose Christmas Advert

A nicely-shot 60 seconds of the kind of Christmas simply unimaginable for 90 per cent of the people in the country.

Vote for your favourite Christmas advert


• 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 2014

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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