Is it that time again. For the bad things? You know, the worst adverts of 2017? The things that have been making your angry, upset, irritated or perhaps even clinically insane over the course of the year? I must say, 12 months ago I was struggling for things to say. Now, as I find myself casting an eye withered by intense hatred over what advertising has served up over the last 12 months, I feel reborn. Just like America, where it’s morning again. If that morning looks like a coming fascist apocalypse.
Back over in Blighty it’s not been much cheerier, but luckily we’re going to leave the European soon and all our problems will be solved. The economy will rebounce, there’ll be a million more houses once the Eurocrats stop us using straight bananas for bricks and there will be no further Muslim families in adverts (thanks for nothing, Gordon Brown!).
And on the telly? No comfort there. Between the meat-grinder aesthetics of box-set killathons, The Handmaid’s Tale and This Fucking Morning there’s precious little to lift spirits. And sandwiched in between like James Corden wrapped up in, well, two more James Cordens the adverts are waiting for us.
They get you while you’re weak you know. Just when you’re reeling from Trump and nuclear war and the housing crisis and Philip Schofield they hit with concentrated messages of smiling, happy, thin people and wormtongue in your ear that if only you buy their shit you can be just like them on the telly.
Whisper, whisper. A holiday, a car, a burger.The unfettered delights of broadband from a slightly different supplier. And checking your FUCKING. CREDIT. HISTORY. They lie in wait for us like a Victorian butcher’s assistant awaiting a lady of the night in the fog-shrouded east end (oh, and let’s take it as read I despise James Corden, any price-comparison websites, betting websites, virtually anything for banks and acknowledge the sheer ineptitude of most daytime things for hoovers, gardening kneepads and meals-on-wheels).
And so you buy something and, fractionally, momentarily feel a little bit better. And then it’s onto the drudgery of the fifth nightly episode of Coronation Street. So I urge you: don’t see adverts as harmless or even a bit of a laugh.
Think of them as evil; as obviously evil as Rebekah Vardy. And steel yourself for what’s ahead, for it’s the time of year when I choose the absolute nadir. Brace yourselves: it’s the worst adverts of 2017.
Want to know what it looks like to spend bazillions of quids on a campaign in which no-one has the slightest faith? Look no further than the Sansbury’s Food Dancing adverts, which features a rainbow vision of Britain where everyone prances about while cooking.
It’s like a Brian Eno cut-up technique where a bunch of creatives have inexpertly welded together a bunch of aspirational and on-brand concepts and like a conceptual Human Caterpillar (please don’t Google that if you don’t know what it means) and just as grisly.
All so somewhere a handful of people will upload their videos to Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram with the hashtag #FoodDancing. And somewhere in London some people will make a note of this and make a PowerPoint then show it to someone who works at Sainsbury’s who, in turn, will hand over a cheque for three million pounds.
You know you almost have to admire this advert for Tui, a thing that used to be called Thomson that has been rationalised into a noise that seems designed to represent gross physical nausea, given the reactions to this spot.
I pondered not even doing a poll this year, as it’s quite clear to me that Tui is going to sweep away everything in its path like a physical tide of comical ineptitude worse than an Apprentice candidate laced with enough chemical sludge to make everyone evacuate every bodily receptacle at once.
Clearly one of the worst adverts of 2017; clearly one of the most dreadful thing to take place within our solar system since the Kuiper Belt fiddled a load of OAPs out of their war pensions.
People actually complained when I ran through this advert with a spit before roasting it unceremoniously on top of a Bonfire of James Corden autobiographies. Because it has animals it.
Look, I like animals. I like them so much I give money to the RSPCA, RSPB, WWF and a variety of wildlife and environmental charities and pressure groups. That’s what liking animals means, not gawping at the fucking things and making that ‘aww’ noise when you see a CGI one on the telly before polishing off another cow-leg sandwich.
So, frankly, fuck adverts that use non-existent animals as a means to barter entrance into your subconscious. As for you, if you’re one of the people who liked teh funnay animals, go and put a bird feeder up in your back garden.
A good grief. Tony, what have you done. Though I might decry bigotry and jingoism in all its forms I have to admit to a kernel of annoyance when American adverts are beamed, unchanged, into our upright, steadfast and proudly parochial British living rooms. We just can’t deal with such an earnest lack of irony and if there’s anything Tony lacks – apart from the name of a good hairdresser and any flow whatsoever – it’s irony. Tony got in touch on Twitter and seems like a good guy, but by God he really is responsible for one of the worst adverts I’ve ever seen.
I dislike McDonald’s for many reasons, but I never thought they would add ‘exploiting bereaved children in order to sell hamburgers’ to that list.
Of course, a diet high in sugars, fat and salt is probably more likely to lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes so perhaps it’s no surprise that Dad popped his clogs before his son was in long trousers.
Like a shark, price-comparison site adverts have to keep moving forward to stay alive. Well, if that shark was a total cunt anyway. Every now and again a Go Compare or a Moneysupermarket stumbles across a winning formula – a genuinely amusing, original or dissonant advert that catches the eyes and actually entertains for the first 600 or so times you see it. But there’s always a regression to the mean that ensure the next one up will be as depressingly banal as usual.
Perhaps there’s simply no point in making the effort in this peculiar niche of advertising where your product is literally exactly the same as your three main rivals. If shouting the loudest and longest is the mark of success I guess we should be surprised there’s as much effort as there is in these crushingly tossed-off, will-this-do ‘ironic thing from your childhood’ bowel movements casually shat out by agencies who know they’re onto a good thing.
Yes it’s McDonald’s again – did I tell you I don’t like them? – with this advert that’s half-good. Unfortunately the rest of it is pure, concentrated evil – as bad as the stuff that seeps out of the pages of the Dailies Mail and Express every day and poison the brain, heart and any other major organs of anyone who is exposed for long enough.
This point-and-laugh exercise is a metaphor for Britain in 2017, where anything different, anything fancy, anything highbrow or anything that attempts to lift itself out of the Shit Life Syndrome bog much of England is right now can be ridiculed just because it’s not itself shit.
Imagine Nigel Farage in his stupid upmarket Del Boy coat smoking a fag, braying that posh-boy laugh and slurping a cup of McCafe coffee – it’s startling easy to – and you’ll never look at it in the same way again.
So, it’s the Christmas adverts 2017. Christmas isn’t Christmas without your very own Christmas hashtag is it? I mean, a hashtag really is the true meaning of Christmas and if your advert doesn’t have one you’re the equivalent of one of those fictional councils that has banned Christmas.
I’ve copied below the titles that the various brands and companies came up with themselves and while you can see more keyword stuffing than a Christmas turkey, you’ll probably notice that most have their very own Christmas Hashtag. “Hashtag Aww”.
You know what else Christmas is all about? Value. Like politicians addicted to promising to make the lives of ‘hardworking families’ slightly less shit than last year, brands have become utterly obsessed with offering ‘value’, by which they mean ‘cheap’, by which they mean ‘shit’.
That’s something references in plenty of these Christmas adverts below – from the V-flicking of Lidl to the orgy of badness seen in the advert for peacocks, which is responsible for a whole new alphabet to categorise just how far down the celebrity rung the ad’s stars are.
Compare these adverts to the Christmas adverts of a few years ago and the lack of celebrities is startling, as if the Brexit-hungry population might associate people who are not Norms as elite, and therefore hate them. In the place? Black, asian and gay people by the bucketload, thereby replacing celebrities as the hate-filled lightning rod for fruitcakes, saddos and bastards.
But usually it’s the same old stuff: Christmas lights, tables groaning under platters, snow, CGI animals and multicultural parties in a non-threatening commuter town.
They’re not all bad. Granted some of them made me bleed from various orifices, but it’s just about possible to watch most of these adverts without devolving into a pile of fats and proteins.
Vote for your favourite, tell me about your most-hated – or simply go and hurl a brick through the window of a drive-thru. Whatever gets you through the festive period basically.
Me? I’m off to Soho with a my boomstick and a chainsaw attached to the bloody stump where my arm used to be. I wish you a Groovy Christmas!
They say: Joe befriends a noisy Monster under his bed but the two have so much fun together that he can’t get to sleep, leaving him tired by day. For Christmas Joe receives a gift to help him finally get a good night’s sleep.
I say: I’m as immune to the supposed charms of anthropomorphised Christmas CGI so beloved of John Lewis as they are to my complaining about them. Suffice it to say that they needed to explain their advert, which either suggests an overcomplicated advert or a very stupid target audience.
They say: Every family has a different turkey tale… However you cook yours – from barbecuing to basting – we’ve got a turkey for you.
I say: The hashtag for this Tesco Christmas advert is, of course, #EveryonesWelcome. “Fuck that,” said the internet in response, “the Muslamics aren’t fucking welcome!” Tidings of comfort and joy and all that, eh?
So, two things here: I actually laughed out loud at the terse “Have you been basting it, Caroline?” that rings so true of Christmas Day tension exchanges.
Also I like it because it features a gay couple, black people and an Asian family celebrating Christmas. And if you have a problem with that I have a Christmas message for you: fuck you, you’re a cunt.
Best Christmas Ever | Asda Christmas Advert 2017 – Full Version
They say: Step inside the Asda Christmas Imaginarium to discover the magic behind everything we’ve created, so you can have the #BestChristmasEver
I Say: I like the look of this and the setting, Manchester’s beautiful Victoria Baths. There’s almost a bit of a Wes Anderson feel to bits of it. The idea is quite nice, featuring plenty of Borrower-style creatures making all of Asda’s foodstuffs, though you get the feeling it would be rather more honest if it features a load of Polish agricultural workers and various non-whites working for $3 a day.
Sainsbury’s OFFICIAL Christmas Advert 2017 #everybitofChristmas
They say: The 2017 Sainsbury’s Christmas advert squeezes every bit of Christmas into a wonderfully fun and festive song, sung by people all over Britain.
I say: I’m afraid I couldn’t watch this advert for more than five or six seconds, though I did have enough time to glean that Sainsbury’s is sticking to its cretinous food dancing theme, a running background chatter only slightly less appalling and moronic that Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
They say: Kevin the Carrot is back this Christmas and he’s met someone special. Join him in his adventure across the dinner table and see all of the delicious festive food we have on offer this year.
I say: I guess if you throw some snow and a groaning table-full of festive fare into a £5m ad campaign it doesn’t really matter what else you do, so once again we have a carrot in peril from Aldi. I hope he gets grated or pureed – and his green tops turned into pesto -before next Christmas.
Marks & Spencer Christmas TV Ad 2017 | Paddington & The Christmas Visitor #LoveTheBear
They say: We can now reveal our Christmas advert – the tale of true Christmas spirit – with our favourite Paddington Bear
I say: There’s more cash been spunked on this than fake snow and none of it really aligns in any way with Marksies. Still, it’s hitting M&S customers – moneyed people frightened by change – right in the demographics.
Amazon Christmas Advert 2017 – ‘Give’ 60″
They say: See what happens when hundreds of Amazon boxes go on a magical journey, to send a smile this Christmas all whilst singing Roger Hodgson’s anthem “Give a Little Bit.”
I say: Top-notch soundtrack, though needless to say it’s completely ruined by non-singing people singing it, as is the fashion these days. And if those parcels knew they’d be slung over your back gate and left out in the rain they wouldn’t be quite so chuffed.
They say: Our Christmas adverts tell the story of three families and highlight the skills of our foodmakers and shopkeepers.
I say: I can’t find it in my heart to dislike Morrisons, who always seem to at least pay lip service to some of the more wholesome messages of Christmas – bonus points for the continuing voiceovers of Paul Copley too. If you want to be in a bad mood for a month take a look at the comments on this ad, which has the gall to feature a person who is Not White.
Very.co.uk Christmas Advert 2017 – Get More Out of Giving
They say: Follow the story of our big-hearted little girl as she spreads festive cheer by giving pink-wrapped gifts. Our heroine is accompanied by Ulfie, her much-loved toy wolf.
I Say: What happens if you cross The Snowman with The Box Of Delights – and add a touch of Stranger Things? This ad for Very.co.uk.
Bring Merry Back – House of Fraser Christmas Advert 2017
They say: this year, we’re recapturing that Christmas magic in our new advert with a much-needed trip down memory lane. Complete with paper chains, stick-on Santa beards and some quality family time, watch as two sisters fall back into their younger selves, reminded of the joy that Christmas can bring.
I say: House Of Fraser tracks down the very last Christmas song left unraped by advertising (though it’s not a very good one) and shows us the lifetimes of two sisters through a Christmas filter.
Boots Christmas | TV Advert 2017 | #ShowThemYouKnowThem
They say: This Christmas, it’s all about the thought. It’s about old memories and the new ones you’re yet to make. It’s about the secrets you’ve shared and the laughs you won’t forget. Most of all, it’s about finding the perfect gift to really show them you know them.
I say: Ooh, two sisters. This is awkward. Like when you turn up to a party and you’re wearing the same dress as That Woman You Hate. Especially when you’re a man. But I can never find it in my heart to dislike Boots adverts, which at least try to get somewhere close to depictions of real life in their Christmas adverts. Great soundtrack too.
TK Maxx ‘A White Christmas’ Advert 2017
They say: Yes, we’re actually doing this. You can get a White Christmas. To your door. For absolutely nothing.
I say: A lorry turning up to ejaculate snow all over your house is so on-brand for TK Maxx it’s ridiculous.
Waitrose Christmas TV Ad 2017 | #ChristmasTogether
Christmas is the perfect time of year to gather round and enjoy delicious food but, most importantly, to spend #ChristmasTogether
I say: The awful silence, the looks heavy with significance, the open hostility. Are the people snowed in at the Tan Hill Inn – Britain’s highest pub – going to… kill and eat their rescuers?
They say: Our Christmas ad is #ReadyForTakeOff! Watch our elf race through the snow to make sure no-one is disappointed this festive season.
I say: Argos warehouse workers get paid £7.71 at the time of writing – that’s 21p per hour more than the minimum wage. And it’s that extra half-bob that ensures Argos workers go that extra mile to deliver a toy robot dog to your house on Christmas Eve.
Creating Value in Every Moment – Matalan Christmas Advert 2017
They say: Christmas – it’s magical, fun and super-busy all at the same time! Find the value in every festive moment with us… #MatalanMoment
*An on-set vet was present to supervise Dodger the dog for the filming of our advert.
I say: ‘Value’ is a much abused word in this day and age – it should mean the worth, the desirability or merit we place in something. Instead it’s usually a euphemism for cheap and the drive for ‘value’ has led to a race to the bottom in this country. Result? Cheap, tacky crap and cheap, bad food. I’ll let you decide which definition of Matalan is going for here and which you most associate with the brand.
Beautifully Normal – Lidl’s Global Christmas Advert
They say: Clichés don’t make Christmas, it’s the moments that do.
What I say: A nice effort at subverting the Christmas schmaltz and spitting in the face of the rest of the pack but have you heard this fucking music? Nothing says Christmas like a vocoder-ed R’n’B semi-rap in a transatlantic accent eh?
Barbour Christmas Ad 2017 – The Snowman and The Snowdog
They say:This #BarbourChristmas, the story of The Snowman and The Snowdog continues with the next chapter in their story. When snow starts to fall on Christmas Eve, magic can happen…
I say: Who could find it in their heart to hate something that references something so beautiful, British-ly festive? And I wouldn’t begrudge Raymond Briggs a nice little Christmas windfall. Still, hijacking The Snowman with advertising is rather like tattooing SKY BET across David Attenborough’s face.
Sky Cinema Christmas Advert 2017
They say: Our Christmas adverts tell the story of three families and highlight the skills of our foodmakers and shopkeepers.
I say: I hate Sky. I hate the way they monopolise sport and films, I hate the associations with The Sun and the Murdochs and I hate the way they charge you so much for something and then stick adverts in the middle. And I hate the fucking Sound Of Music.
The tagline to this ad – nothing brings people together like a movie at Christmas always reminds me of a brilliant retort to a similar claim in an advert of yesteryear.
“Nothing gets a party started like Ferrero Rocher,” went the ad.
“Mmm, ecstasy does,” replied my chum to many chortles.
#YouShall Find Your Fairytale Christmas | Debenhams Christmas TV Ad 2017
They say: Our Debenhams Christmas TV advert 2017 is revealed…will they find their fairytale Christmas? #YouShall
I say: Debenhams seems destined to be always the bridesmaid and never the bride when it comes to Christmas adverts. In fact it’s not even the bridesmaid – it’s the woman from university who was somehow part of the friendship group even though she never fitted in and was invited only on sufferance. However lots of racists have been whining about it on the basis that there’s a mixed-race couple in it (and yes that is Ewan McGregor up a ladder) so it gets a pass from me.
Vodafone Christmas Love Story. Part 1: Love on the Platform
They say: There’s magic in the air when Martin meets a young lady who’s using her Vodafone Video pass to stream It’s a Wonderful Life, on the way home for Christmas. Watch as he hilariously bundles from a Jimmy Stewart impression to an ill-advised sermon on data usage in part one of our Christmas love story.
I say: Love On The Platform sounds like a DVD by Ben Dover, a grimy Carry On film of a man with a back catalogue of back-alley sex compilations: car-parks in Scunthorpe; garages in Poole; sewage works in Luton and the like.
Martin Freeman is still miles away from overexposure and there’s something reassuring about his everyman awkwardness but an ad campaign for a telecommunications company – somewhere between Inland Revenue and dentists on my list of ‘people I like having appointments with’ – might test it sorely.
Littlewoods Christmas 40″ Advert 2017 – Own it!
They say: Step into December with Littlewoods this year as we help you own every magical Christmas moment you have planned in your calendar. From putting up festive Santa decorations with your loved ones, to making sure you can create and capture your perfect Christmas Day filled with love and perfect gifts, we’ll help you own every moment – with a bit of extra sparkle and glitter.
I say: As a tagline ‘own it’ seems a bit rich from Littlewoods, whose USP seems to be that you don’t really own anything for several months, or even years, after you start paying for it. Putting Christmas on tick may not be particularly festive but it seems fairly par for the course in 2017. If that golf course is about to go bankrupt, anyway.
They say: Once upon a time, there was a giraffe called Geoffrey who ran a beautiful Toys ‘R’ Us store. It was Christmas Eve and Geoffrey was waiting for someone very special.
I say: If I were Toys R Us I’d just show the same faded, fuzzy advert from the 80s rather than this halfway ‘have-your-cake-and-eat-it’ house that drags Geoffrey into a charmless CGI Pixar update, like a colourised Laurel & Hardy film or After Effects-ed celeb face into a gangbang.
Merry Techmas | LG | Currys PC World
They say: At Currys PC world, our colleagues try out our products to give you the best advice. Looking to upgrade your TV this Christmas? The LG OLED 4k ready HD TV with Perfect Black and Perfect Colour gives outstanding picture quality.
I say: Merry Techmas everyone! A heartwarming tale of how a family laughs at the idea of sitting around a fire having a conversation with one another and instead offers a hi-tech television with ‘perfect black’. Makes the heart positively melt, like a Nazi’s face in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
JD TV AD 2017: Undisputed Christmas
They say: Back and better than ever, have yourself an Undisputed Christmas this year, with our action packed TV Ad, featuring exclusives from Nike, adidas, The North Face, Ellesse, Under Armour and many more.
I say: Nothing says Christmas more than a bunch of happy slapping youths throwing punches at your grid.
TalkTalk: This is Christmas
They say: Here it is, our 2017 Christmas ad. Whether you’re after an Oscar for your ‘I *really* love my new socks’ performance or cosying down in front of the telly, our TalkTalk family have shown us just how much being connected to loved ones matters.
I say: Apparently this is TalkTalk’s Christmas advert but every time I catch in on telly I’ve been convinced it’s the latest instalment of THIS IS ENGLAND.
Carrot Stick | Christmas | Brand | TV Ad | McDonald’s UK
They say: McDonald’s 2017 Christmas ad is here. Time for everyone to get #ReindeerReady
I say: The idea that any McDonald’s outlet has anything approaching raw, unadulterated vegetables on it premises just seems laughable. And the idea of A Christmas McDonald’s advert seems as dissonant as replacing communion wine with a Jaegerbomb.
Peacocks Christmas Advert 2017 | #XMASFACTOR
Reader comment says: Oh my god honey G Is my idol I am now training to be her and am scheduled for plastic surgery in 3 days
I say: A chemical toilet of an advert featuring X-Factor rejects who would have been burned at the stake 300 years ago.
Gogglebox Meets Coca-Cola‘s “Holidays Are Coming” 2017
They say: See the families of Channel 4’s Gogglebox reacting to Coca-Cola’s iconic Holidays Are Coming ad, that has been gracing the nation’s screens for 22 years!
I say: I love Gogglebox and what works is that the people are honest, genuine and generally likeable. All of which is, of course, destroyed by throwing them into an advert and paying them to overreact to the approach of a truck carrying sugary drinks. Like co-opting a benevolent old man who gives you presents at Christmas into a Coke-wielding American brand mascot.
Vote for your favourite Christmas adverts 2017
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.