22 November 2013

Whose Is Your Favourite Christmas Advertisement 2013?

Each year everyone eagerly awaits the Coca Cola Christmas advertisement (perhaps the best Christmas advertisement of all time - although my mum seems to prefer the Old Grouse one) as a sign that it is okay to start celebrating Christmas. From here on we have the excuse to get out last year's iconic snowman jumper that looks like something out of Bridget Jones's Diary (or in my case a 10 year old GAP snowflake one), blast out Christmas tunes in the car or shower, and start eating mince pies like the apocalypse is coming.

Once this initial excitement is over and the generic 'I just saw the Coca Cola advert on TV' statuses have passed, people start to turn their attention to the newer Christmas advertisements, mostly the supermarket ones. I thought it would be interesting to do an evaluation of a few of them, hopefully spark some debate or at least get people think about the process of advertising itself.

My least favourite has got to be M&S's one this year. It's awful. Firstly, what have fairy tales got to do with Christmas? The modern day depictions of Alice and Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel,  Aladdin and The Wizard of Oz (starting Helena Bonham Cater) are far from engaging or unusual. Secondly, since when has it been okay to have women parading around in lingerie on a Christmas advertisement? Not exactly fun for all the family!What is worse is that the protagonist, played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, shows no ounce genuine emotion throughout the whole advertisement. M&S have put too much hope (and money) into the power of star attraction and not enough thought or creativity. Perhaps if they had exchanged the protagonist for a young child (and cut the lingerie scenes obviously) they might have instilled the viewer with a bit more compassion, like some of the more successful Christmas adverts do.

Another advertisement I'm not particularly impressed with is the Waitrose one. Other than the fact that it's not exactly the first thing to want to think about when you're eating your Christmas dinner, whether the turkey had a good time running around in the farmyard before it got killed for you to eat, it has the same feel to it as all their other advertisements. It's almost as though they don't care that it's Christmas! It also suggests that the perfect Christmas dinner is just about the turkey, and not the atmosphere of the day itself. It is neither feel-good nor memorable in my books, and is a serious let down on their money-saving 'Community Matters' advertisement of last year.

While writing this post and re-watching some of these advertisements, I managed to stumble across Morrison's Christmas advert staring Ant and Dec. This is a festive themed re-make of the Disney song 'Be Our Guest' from Beauty and the Beast, with a gingerbread man as the host rather than Lumière. It's quite inventive with its re-writing of the lyrics and for Disney lovers out there (of which I most certainly am) it's sure to be popular. I also like the fact that it's centered around food. Other than the fact that I like food, I think it's sensible for food-focused supermarkets to advertise what they're known for, rather than making any ridiculous attempts at covering the whole of Christmas.

This year's Tesco advertisement is one I'm really not sure of. It's a nostalgic, home-video-style presentation of a family's experiences of Christmas with Rod Stewart's 'Forever Young' playing in the background. Although it's inoffensive it's not exactly exciting either. It's fairly reminiscent of John Lewis's 2010 'Always a Woman' advertisement but obviously with the added Christmas theme.  It's got enough community spirit and festive attraction for me but I think it's that fact that they don't appear to be trying to sell anything that annoys me. I mean what is the point they are try to get across here? Christmas advertisements need to be original in my eyes to be considered interesting and there just isn't enough here to earn my approval.

Next is my evaluation of the John Lewis advertisement, although not technically a supermarket it deserves to be compared alongside these. With almost 8 million views on YouTube and it's not even December it's true to say that a lot of people have seen this advertisement already, probably even a couple of times. It's first impression to me was of it's resemblance with 'Watership Down', a children's TV programme I used to watch when I was younger, but then on a second viewing the startling differences between the basic sketching animation and the vivid shots of reflecting water as the hare crosses the river and the life-like present left in the snow, really show just how much thought has gone into the creation of this advertisement. Although the idea behind the advertisement is relatively simple - a bear who has never seen Christmas because of hibernation is awoken my an alarm clock left my his best friend the hare and gets to see Christmas for the first time - along with its appropriately chosen backing song, 'Somewhere Only We Know' sung by Lily Allen, and careful animation, this advertisement manages to create in the viewer a real sense of involvement in the story line and the emotions of the animals. It has everything it needs to be a fantastic Christmas advertisement (which it really is): the ability to create empathy within the viewer; a good backing track; unusual and engaging initial idea; Christmas spirit; a sense of community and something that is accessible and enjoyable for every member of the family. Christmas is about spending time with the ones you love and this advertisement cleverly reminds you of that whilst still promoting the importance of choosing and buying the right present.

Lastly, I'd like to share my opinion of Sainsbury's full length Christmas advertisement. Although a lot of people have seen the last clip at the end of the advertisement where a young family are sending Christmas wishes to their father, who is away fight in areas of conflict, who then walks through the door at the end to the children's delight, the whole advertisement is definitely worth a watch through. My favourite moment is around 1 minute 32 seconds in when a little boy dressed in Toy Story pyjamas is SO happy with the present he's been given. He goes crazy! We all know that Christmas isn't about presents but we can't deny that the happiness brought to our friends and families faces when we have given them the perfect present isn't worth paying for. And this is what the Sainsbury's advert cleverly plays on. Another section that really stood out to me was the gentleman who we initially see explaining about his Christmas cooking schedule and then later we see him sitting alone eating this meal. This loneliness seems odd against the rest of the clips and serves to suggest one of two things, either Christmas is okay alone if you have all the trimmings or don't let your relatives end up like this, buy more and invite them around yours! I'm more inclined to think it's the latter but either way it's very clever advertising by Sainsbury's. I can't, of course, evaluate this advertisement without talking about the final clip I touched on early. The honest happiness and surprise of having a separated  family member unexpectedly return home for Christmas evokes emotion within the viewer immediately and is truly special to watch. The home-video-style film and blurriness of footage adds to this unforced scene and the genuine response felt by the viewer. Whether Sainsbury's had any help in getting leave for the father to come home or whether it was merely coincidental I don't know (and I don't want to read about the creation of the advertisement because I don't want to see other's opinions before I post this - I want this to be my responses to the advertisements), but as the viewer we feel privileged to be a part of this scene and thus feel grateful to Sainsbury's for giving us the opportunity to partake in this intimate reunion. Like the John Lewis advertisement this has all that factors required to make it a great Christmas advertisement and as a viewer we are left with a feeling of festiveness and excitement because of Sainsbury's, I therefore think it's a great advertisement, perhaps even as good as John Lewis's.

I hope the length of this post hasn't been too long for everyone and you've all persevered to the end.
Sorry it's technically not Thursday anymore, it was when I started writing it!
Any comments or opinions are always welcome!!


  1. As you have now written about christmas adverts does that mean I can now put up the Christmas Tree? :-)

  2. Only if you've seen the Coca Cola advertisement!

  3. in all serious though i love the T K Maxx advert as it really connects with me with the happiness around Christmas!