AdTurds Bad Adverts – Badverts

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

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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