It is that time of year again, and what a year it has been with Brexit, Harambe and Trump. It is finally Christmas advert time, a hotly anticipated tradition, whereby high street retailers compete for the best television advert of the year. After previous years with the likes of ‘Mog the Cat’ and ‘The Man on the Moon’, there were big shoes to fill this year.
John Lewis’s Christmas advert is probably the most anticipated, with its well-established history of emotional, tearjerking adverts. With everything from impatient children in ‘The Long Wait’ in 2012, to animated woodland creatures in ‘The Bear and the Hare’ in 2013, as well as the adorable ‘Monty the Penguin’ in 2015 (which had us all rushing to the stores to buy our own mini Monty), John Lewis adverts have come to be recognised as heralding the start of the festive period.
This year, John Lewis have changed their tone, moving from so-called ‘sadvertising’ to something a bit more cheerful. The advert features an excited dog, ‘Buster the Boxer’, jumping on the family’s brand new trampoline; beating the little girl (the recipient of the present) to it on Christmas morning. This change in tone has caused controversy among the public press, with many complaining that they did not receive their annual sob, whilst others praised it for its heart-warming nature.
Two surprising contenders for the Christmas ad of the year come from two student shopping destinations: Aldi and Lidl. We go to Lidl for a cheap bag of shopping, not to cry over a family surprising their grandpa by decorating the house he lived in with his wife for Christmas *sobs*. Lidl’s seasonal ad is very different from that of Aldi’s; featuring ‘Kevin the Carrot’, whose daring adventure may be cute, the advert does leave you with some mixed feelings, as Kevin spends his Christmas as reindeer bait.
Over the years, Sainsbury’s has emerged as a strong Christmas ad contender. With last year’s ‘Mog the Cat’ and the remembrance of the first world war in 2014, this year’s ‘The Greatest Gift’ is a full-on song and dance animated number, with ‘Carpool Karaoke’ famed James Corden providing the tune. It is beautifully put together and the song is definitely catchy, though it is perhaps a little bit too long.
The higher end shops have also upped their efforts this year, with Waitrose’s advert mirroring something from David Attenborough’s Planet Earth in its dramatic and beautiful journey of a robin’s effort to get home.
With some close shaves and heart-stopping moments along the journey, such as when the fisherman almost steps on the robin, Waitrose really tugs on the heartstrings this year with a production that deserves some kind of cinematography award.
Speaking of full-scale film productions, Marks and Spencer’s advert ‘Christmas with love from Mrs Claus’ is up there with the best of them. M&S have taken a new direction this year, following that of John Lewis. It is a Hollywood blockbuster, and, despite its definite cheesiness, it’s a gorgeous story of the much overlooked Mrs Claus saving Christmas. Extra points are definitely awarded for its demonstration of girl power, while retaining the magic of Christmas.
Following the filmic trend, luxury fashion designer Burberry must be mentioned for its Christmas short production, starring big names such as Dominic West, Sienna Miller, Lily James and Domhnall Gleeson in ‘The Tale of Thomas Burberry’. This piece was even directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker, Asif Kapadia.
Yet, for me, the winner this year was an unknown competitor: Heathrow Airport. Who would have thought that Heathrow Airport, the cause of much controversy, would have such a heartwarming advert? The story of two bears finding their way through the airport to spend time with their family at Christmas is a winner. Because that’s what makes a Christmas advert so good, isn’t it? We want to get that heart-warming feeling; we want to feel that we are going to cry. Maybe, just once in a while, that’s what we need.
It’s Christmas, and in the words of Andy Williams, it’s “the happiest season of all”. Yet we are disappointed when adverts from John Lewis don’t make us cry. The emotional roller coaster caused by these adverts is something we truly crave.
[Image: National Archives and Records Administration]