Aww, Christmas adverts. Snowmen and buying your loved on a woolly jumper and gorging yourself all the way to Type-II Diabetes. At a time when John Carpenter's iconic 80s sci-fi/action film They Live! is gaining traction as a meme I'm here to remind you that Christmas adverts are there to convince you to consume more, conform more, buy more - and burn the whole fucking planet in the meantime.
You know the score. No cooing from me. No gurgling at the latest John Lewis mood music. Send me the ghosts of Victor Kiam, PG Tips chimps and Barry Scott - there'll no no Christmas spirit for me where Christmas ads are concerned.
They're not harmless and they're not just a bit of fun. They're just one of the nicer-looking cogs in the system everyone apparently despises. It's one of the prevailing modern mysteries that people rail against experts, elites and the European Union while adverts for massive multinational companies get a free pass, because LOL.
I don't hate Christmas. But I'm not fond of Christmas adverts. These are the ones that caught my eye this time around: the best, the worst, the most sickeningly awful. You can vote for your favourite below.
2016 Christmas Adverts
Argos Christmas Advert
Bonus points for the soundtrack - but a load of multicoloured skating yeti? It's pretty striking I guess but, as ever with Argos adverts, it can't help but say 'expensive' and 'cheap' at the same time.
Aldi Christmas Advert
The preponderance of all-CGI adverts these days doesn't do a lot for me - they just conjure up an image of a speccy 3D animator sitting in a windowless room in front of three massive iMac screens. Good old Kevin The Carrot.
Asda Christmas Advert
Nothing encapsulates to stupid wastefulness of the modern Christmas more than the buying of crapulous Christmas jumpers to be worn for one day and then discarded. Needless to say they're not all made by elves in Lapland either: a recent report found that plenty of high-street knitwear was made by people in third-world countries who were regularly 'beaten, threatened, stripped of their rights and imprisoned on false charges'. Merry Christmas!
If your modus operandi is 'we sell cheap shit' then I guess it stands to reason your advert reeks of it.
Boots Christmas Advert
Boots have been doing Christmas adverts pretty well for a few years now, ducking the sad/happy, snow'n'food clusterfucks and focusing on real people and doing something nice for them. Set against the food-and-stuff orgies Christmas is often presented as, it can't help but come across well.
Currys PC World
Yeah, OK, I'll buy this. Unlike a not-dissimilar Littlewoods advert from a few years ago I think this is sending itself up. 'Just so you know' is a nice little pay-off too. The idea of stepping foot into a Currys PC World store at any time of the year makes me nauseous, mind.
Debenhams Christmas Advert
Jennifer Saunders, Ewan McGregor, Billie Piper, Bruno Tonioli (?) and Mel Giedroyc join forces to lend their voices to a heartening story of buying stuff. I quite like these Debenhams spots and they look and sound lovely - but the execution is just slightly off somehow. Still, it sounds so lovely by the end of it I nearly had a stalk-on.
DFS Christmas advert
Nothing says 'Christmas is over; now it's five days dreading going back to work and loathing yourself over how much you've eaten and drunk' like a trip to a slushy sofa warehouse on an industrial estate to see if there are any cheap suites. Hence this adverts, I guess, which uses some lovely Aardman animation to make something almost quite nice. But I just can't buy into it: I don't think I've ever had a delivery of anything that hasn't been a ballache and I'd list 'buying a sofa' somewhere between 'trying to claim disability allowance' and 'clearing out drains' in my list of things I'd like to do.
Ebay Christmas Advert
Jesus, just look at the shite they're advertising here. Still this ploughs a winning Inbetweeners furrow and is pleasingly cynical. The 'Christmas disco' angle is pretty oddly specific but this feels like a more honest advert that has a good chance of connecting with its target audience. No CGI animals in sight either.
House of Fraser Christmas Advert
This is fucking horrible.
John Lewis Christmas Advert Christmas Advert
John Lewis kills Santa, with help from a CGI dog ripped off from the internet.
Littlewoods Christmas Advert
Littlewoods seems to have gone out its way in recent years to make the most offensively consumerist adverts of all. It's still at it here with a montage of a family tooling up with the shit they've bought each other (on 0% credit, of course). But it's inoffensive enough - at least compared to previous efforts - and doesn't feature piano-bothering Tory harpy Myleene Klass. So it can't be all bad.
Marks & Spencer Christmas Advert
Dear Christ, how much money was spunked on this? There are porn stars who have been spunked on less than this.
Morrisons Christmas Advert
Wreath, tree, snow, presents, wooly hats, icing sugar, decorations, mince pies, turkey, Christmas dinner, board games, paper hats. CHECK. Though I do think Morrisons have got it right with everyone's favourite comforting northern voice in the shape of Paul Copley.
Not On The High Street Christmas advert
A debut effort from 'power-to-the-people' indie champions Not On The High Street here, which plays up its 'real people make this stuff' angle by casting them as elves from around the country. I also like the battered blue Ford Trannie van.
Sainsbury's Christmas advert
Well, where to start. The first thing to notice here is that James Corden is singing - singing - this quite dreadful song. It's as if Sainsbury's were so desperate to use Corden (as must all broadcasters, by law, in 2016) they crowbarred him into voicing the song, just so they could generate a few more column inches in The Daily Mail and Sun. Corden's singing is, it must be said, pretty bad - he sounds like a man doing his best after being forced into an involuntary rendition after his first three singing lessons, operating at the limits of his vocal cords. Only one who got a million quid for his efforts.
What I dislike most about this is how depressing the whole thing is. The only way the Dad in this advert can briefly escape from his miserable existence is by replacing himself with a nodding dog, proving that he is both horribly overworked and job-insecure, but also so utterly insignificant that no-one notices he isn't there.
What a troubling parable for our time: a zero-hours, anxiety-attack, gnawing-insecurity Christmas carol for Brexiting austerity Britain. Cold comfort too, no doubt, for the Sainsbury's employees who have to be at work for 6am on Boxing Day.
Tesco Christmas Advert
You can't have your cake and eat it Tesco. As ever Miller and Jones are engaging and the script rides a fine line between kitchen-sink reality and sitcom humour, but it kinda works. I can't hate it - even if I think it's got a bloody nerve.
TK Maxx Christmas Advert
There's a nice bait-and-switch here that makes sense. TK Maxx just can't compete with the big names - and probably shouldn't even be trying. So subverting expectations and disrupting the traditional Christmas snorefests isn't a bad idea. Works pretty well too, even if the lasting feeling is vague unease.
Toys R Us Christmas Advert
I think the value in the Toys R Us jingle lies in its nostalgia value: a hefty dose of 'when I was a kid' and the fuzzy animation. Update it and it loses a lot of its charm, especially when you realise it's just not a very good piece of music. 'There's millions, says Geoffrey, all under on roof'. What? I do wish they'd include the forgotten third verse, however, if only to see the baffled faced on today's kids.
"Books Boardgames and Bikes
Teddies, Puppets and Dolls
Bats, Spaceships and Trikes..."
Very.co.uk Christmas Advert
I like the sentiment - that giving is quite a nice thing to do - but I'm not convinced that a gig-economy-fuelled online shopping service is a particularly festive notion.
Waitrose Christmas Advert
When I was a child I thought I had a new affinity with robins. Because my name is Robin. Sadly this isn't true, but I do have an affinity with wildlife. I'm in the RSPB and BTO and a lot of charitable donations of mine go towards supporting wildlife. You know who doesn't support wildlife? Supermarkets. Agriculture.
If we're not careful we'll end up in a situation where the only wild birds we see are CGI efforts on Christmas adverts. It's enough to make you weep into a Waitrose mince pie.
Vote for your favourite Christmas advert
Favourites? You tell me. I'll take is as read the answer 'none of the above' will feature.
Christmas adverts of old
Refresh your memories of the best and worst Christmas adverts – sob pitifully at advertising or enrage yourself to vein-throbbing standards – of previous years.
Here we go then. The worst adverts of 2015. If you're just here for the videos and want to give my usual Christmas Message Of Despair, skip the next 1,000 words...
Some people I know who are teachers have started to tell me recently that children don't necessarily know why we celebrate Christmas. No Jesus, manger, frankincense, little donkeys or Boney M. No Once In Royal David's City, O Little Town Of Bethlehem or God Rest Ye, Merry. Not even that version of Oliver Twist that Alistair Sim did. No, not because of immigrants or loony-left councils.
They think it's something to do with shopping. Some other people I know - people who are legally adults - got so excited by the arrival of a Coca-Cola truck in Sunderland I'm fairly sure they soiled themselves. When I pressed them further it became fairly clear they thought Saint Nick was something to do with fermented vegetable extract.
Easter? Chocolate eggs. Hallowe'en? Gaudy tat from pound shops that catches fire in any room above body temperature. Bonfire Night? Bangy things. September: Back To School. May: Barbecues, beach holidays and booze. November onwards: the Christmas Behemoth. We even have days dedicated to shopping: Black Friday; Cyber Monday; the New Year Sales. Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays - our lives are mediated by how, when and where we spend money.
Everything that we do is filtered through spending money. Shopping. Adverts. Our whole way of life is driven by acquisition - or the desire to acquire things. Forget the library, theatre, cinema, park, gallery or even pub - people go down the shops for something to do these days. They rule our lives.
Nando's is event living. Starbucks a daily gift to oneself. Maccies is a treat. We're so entranced by McDonald's, in fact, that we'd rather step over a dying man than risk getting our Happy Meal.
We show our love for another by exchanging cookery books that will never be read; box-sets forgotten and filed the second they're watched and Christmas jumpers thrown out the second the deccies come down. The system we've decided to live by is predicated on us having, eating and burning more things.
It's a manifesto for our own unhappiness and subjugation. But it's an insanity that we're happy to go along with as long as our friendly local supermarkets keep us fed, banks keep giving us money and TV provider keeps churning out good-looking trash. Advertising is the oil that greases the wheels of this ridiculous state of affairs.
And so we absorb it, assimilate it and are influenced by these little precision-guided films without even knowing it. To buy, eat, drink, travel. To tell us that we deserve it. To understand that the overriding thing in life is to have whatever you want, whenever you want it. To be the masters of our own ultimate doom.
When we've burned the last fossil fuels, chopped down the last tree, concreted the last pasture and eaten the last of the penguins we'll still have adverts telling us that we deserve more. That we should have more. Adverts are the ultimate expression of the way we enslave ourselves.
Not only that, they're really fucking annoying too. These are my selection for the worst adverts of 2015 but you can tell me which one you hated the most below. And if your most despised isn't present, feel free to add it below. In a futile way, you might just improve the human condition in some infinitesimal, unmeasurable and wholly pointless manner. But it might stave off the existential loneliness for a few minutes.
The Worst Adverts of 2015
My choices for the worst of the crop are below. Underneath that a poll. Read, weep and vote for your most-hated.
People used to quite like advert families. The Bisto Family. The Nescafe Couple. The Milky Bar Kid. We welcomed them into our homes and missed them when they were gone. But somewhere along the line things changed. Now we don't like advert families. We hate them. We've learned to distrust our Gods - the banks and supermarkets and car-makers and broadcasters. We may never stop using them. But in this set of Tesco adverts is a new paradigm. We hate these adverts - and we hate the businesses behind them.
Vax Air Cordless Lift
Like a mongoose brushes off cobra venom, I'm immune to the supposed charms of Miranda Hart. I find her whole 'whoops I'm a bit clumsy and look a bit weird' shtick a massive turn-off. In fact I'd rate my fondness for Miranda Hart as somewhere between 'acquiring wisdom teeth' and 'claiming housing benefit'. This Vax advert has all the traits that leave me colder than an Iceland party-food pack present and correct.
Only a total bell-end could have written this ghastly faux-twee affair. A proper Clem Fandango. Someone with a sleeve full of tats, a vial of expensive beard oil and a belief that Ed Sheeran, Catfish and the Fucking Bottlemen and Kodaline are the last words in amazing music. Hateful.
An exercise so fundamentally disturbing it can only have been made by actual children or psychopaths. Though it is incredibly fitting in that Haribo seems to have a phenomenal ability to reduce adults to dribbling infants.
I guess trying to make people go to a Travelodge in this day and age is a fool's errand, but breaking out the puppets just results in a mawkish, try-hard and charmless spot that suggests a polar opposite to common belief: that you'd be mad not to stay at a Travelodge.
The equivalent of buying David Attenborough and making him read out Katie Hopkins columns for the sheer Hell of it. Grisly, depressing - the utter triumph of cold, hard cash over something joyous and innocent.
A surreal, grotesque sex nightmare harder to avoid in 2015 than George Osborne's horrible smug little face. Still, there are definitely bigger and more annoying arses on television. George Osborne, for example.
The man who says 'You make me laugh Cortana' looks like he's physically choking on the words. He looks appalled and ashamed of himself. But what's bizarre is that many, many people - perhaps 100 - sat and watched and nodded and smiled while this abomination was allowed to happen. Even when the man looks like he'd rather shoot himself in the head than say those words. You can see it on screen - a man whose very soul is dying in front of our eyes. And everyone involved still said 'yep, that's the shot. Print it. We're using that one.'
In the cult sci-fi film Cube a massive, self-contained, indestructible death-trap is constructed simply because no-one involved in its creation ever questions what their tiny part in its making portends. No-one ever questions it; no-one ever stops doing their job and something inexplicably terrible just happens as a result. Just like this Clean Bandit Cortana advert. A vast, mechanised, purposeless killing machine. Only the advert is much worse.
If anything good has emerged from austerity it's that our relationship with banks has been changed forever. We finally learned to distrust big business in 2015, though we haven't quite figured out yet what to do about it. In that context Lloyds' desperate, misjudged 'we're your friends, really' advert felt as outdated as Jeremy Corbyn's wardrobe.
John Lewis finally runs out of steam with the 593rd iteration of its cover-versioned sad-sad-sad-happy routine. A tired, misfiring cry-wank of a glory-years photocopy.
Andrex seems to be on a mission to make people spew up into their TV dinners, with this the latest in a long succession of adverts apparently intent on either discussing bodily matter in great detail - or inspiring their sudden emergence.
Nothing against Vauxhall, I just hate Jake Bugg - a man with a voice like a stress headache.
Aldi graduates to the same level as the usual Big Four suspects with an ad featuring one of those singing voices that sounds like a Victorian urchin has been rescued from a gin parlour then partially educated by an aristocrat. The result is an estuary whine less loveable than cholera.
Fuck off Postman Twat.
Appalling, insulting, patronising drivel that dares to compare Paloma Faith to Billie Holiday and a lady who plays football to Emmeline Pankhurst. Women - apparently these are your Gods? Lots of bonus points for being insufferably smug and boasting an abysmal soundtrack. The last shot of the young girl glancing across to the camera physically pains me. 'Women who rock'. Dear Christ.
Vote: Worst Adverts of 2015
Vote for your worst adverts of 2015 here. But think carefully - you can only choose one...
Finally, thanks to Jon 'Holmesy' Holmes for sending in this billboard spotted in Ealing. I have absolutely no bloody idea what the Hell is going on, but felt it deserved to be mentioned here.