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.
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