Selling Christmas By The Pound

Around this time of year I like to share with you a little critique of some of the adverts that have been blitzing my TV screen for the past month. I’ve been saving them as a YouTube playlist but was rather horrified when I sat down to write this that I have collected 44 of them! I’d still be writing this after Christmas if I tried to include them all, so I’m just going to share a few that I quite like, and a few that I think are weird and/or awful so that I can be rude about them!

Christmas ‘officially’ starts here in the UK when the department store chain John Lewis unleashes its latest tearjerker onto the nation. This year’s is no exception, and has been with us in various forms since last month. This is the full version:

It is becoming very fashionable to mock these ads, and there were several parody versions on the interweb within a day of its first airing. But to my mind, the very fact that people do this is a tribute to the power that John Lewis have developed in the Christmas adverts field. Yes, it’s obvious and sickly sweet, but I rather like it. Mind you, I wouldn’t complain if I never saw another advert with a stripped down version of a rock song as the soundtrack! Come on advertising agencies, think of something new!

One of those online polls – you know, the ones with no scientific basis – decided that the grocery (and other assorted tat) retailer Sainsbury had produced a better advert this year. This is their offering:

So, what do you think? It is undeniably a well-told story, with the most adorable cgi’d unreal family cat you could wish for. But it doesn’t feel like an advert to me – it’s more like a children’s story. That is presumably why the branding at the end is as much for the Save The Children campaign as it is for Sainsburys. The whole thing, though, lasts for 3 mins 30 secs. Apart from the astronomic cost of making the film, I wonder how far the budget stretched to paying for TV advertising slots for it. At that length, the agency media buyers will have earned their money if they negotiated some good package deals!

One ad that I haven’t seen on TV this year is my next choice. This is another mini-movie, but this one is from Spain. That must be why I haven’t seen it, then. It’s another obvious tearjerker, but is so well done:

At just over 4 minutes, though, this is another one to strain the budgets. I sometimes wonder who on the client side is managing their marketing, as their agencies appear to be being given free rein to spend as much as they want!

I promised you weird, so try this one next:

The House of Fraser is clearly trying to position itself for a market that I am no longer a part of. If I ever was, to be honest. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I really don’t get the Christmas feel from a bunch of posturing twats thumping the table and having a synchronised arm waving competition. Oh well, pass me my slippers!

Another one that I find a bit odd is the mini-movie our national broadcaster, the BBC, has produced to promote its main channel, BBC1. I suppose they are trying to tell us that BBC1 is as central to our Christmas as is the humble sprout to our Christmas dinner. All it says to me is: BBC1, the channel that makes you fart:

They have, thankfully, made shorter versions of that, but when it is on I find myself wishing they would just get on with it and show a real programme. Either that or I switch over!

A common theme running through all of the ads I’ve shown you so far is how much they go beyond the more normal 30 seconds for TV ads. This one sticks to the 30 second limit and is, I think, all the more brilliant for doing so. It is for Celebrations, a brand of chocolates:

For my final selection, I couldn’t resist this one. It’s another of the tearjerker types (or some kind of jerking) but in a slightly different way:

Grandad is a ……what?!

If you want to see more, the full playlist of 44 is available here. See you again on Christmas Day 🙂

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