Samuel Ross reviews the Christmas crackers of the 2016 festive advertising season…
There’s a nip in the air, the spruce trees are up, and fairy lights twinkle in the streets, which can only mean one thing- time for mass public consumerism. In between stuffing down festive-tasting sandwiches and cramming into retail stores on Black Friday to snatch a cheap TV from the hands of a poor trampled infant, there has been the usual yuletide hype surrounding the Christmas advertising scene. From olympic-standard canine trampolinists to elderly teddy bears lost in Heathrow Airport, this year’s range has been to a high standard, as our favourite high street companies gamble millions on jumping upon the festive bandwagon, and maybe even in the process capturing the nation’s hearts, and souls. So without much further ado, here are some of my favourites from this year’s varied offering of ads.
This year’s highly anticipated John Lewis advert has been either a breath of fresh and entertaining air from the regular tearjerkers or a slight disappointment depending on your view [for the latter opinion check out Ellena Rowlin’s comment piece at Forge online – Ed.] In my mind however, this charming short featuring the eponymous dog who longs to reach for the skies (or at least over the garden fence) is at times whimsical and warm-hearted, with an enchanting cover of “One Day I’ll Fly Away”.
If you thought that Santa did all the work, then this gem proves otherwise. With Saint Nick off on his rounds, his wife receives a letter from a little boy named Jake, who’s relationship with his sister Anna is somewhat strained. Even more so after the family dog takes a nibble of her favourite yeezys. Cue secret spy wardrobe, kickass ice cave and a chopper as Mrs Claus rides to his rescue. This empowering short certainly reaffirms who runs the world.
My favourite ad this year comes from Waitrose and features the nation’s favourite bird in the starring role (no, not Orville the Duck). This epic tale enlightens us to the lengths robins go for love and family. It follows our hero from a sleepy winter barn across hills, valleys and mountains, shivering in soggy winter rain and even caught up in an ocean storm. And all for the wholesome benefit of a Waitrose-brand mince pie. And a girl as well, but mostly the pie. With an accompanying storybook by Michael Morpurgo, the advert also has a touching emotional twist at the end which is almost certain to melt your heart.
This year’s Sainsburys offering is a musical stop-motion animation telling the story of an overworked father (voiced by James Corden) trying to find the perfect present for his family. Although not the most moving Sainsbury’s advert ever, it is zany, witty and very relatable, with lines such as “there’s a queue for the queue”. What is nice is how it reflects today’s society with a mixed raced, gay and lesbian families represented.
It’s directed by Wes Anderson, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Starring Adrien Brody as a train conductor person on a delayed cross-country train (*insert relatable anecdote here*), this advert has all the quirky, symmetrical and self-aware features of a Wes movie. And fashionable clothes. And a cracking soundtrack
Stop funding hate:
It may not be a company Christmas advert, but it’s still an honourable mention. This video from social pressure group ‘Stop Funding Hate’ has attracted so much attention it went viral, especially after LEGO pulled their adverts from the Daily Mail newspaper. It features clips of some of the most memorable adverts from John Lewis interspersed with some of the most hate-filled headlines from papers like the Daily Express and the Mail. Band members from Vaults (see John Lewis ad) have already come out in support of this campaign, which aims to convince companies to stop printing their ads in such papers.
Nothing new here. Same old, same old. Boy rings bells. Christmas lights spontaneously illuminate as a large carbon-emitting truck goes by. Boy misses truck. By the way, if you want to catch the truck yourself, your closest stop is Doncaster on December 8th.
To the surprise of most, and slight bitterness of those living on the third runway flightpath, the airport has released a sweet advert this year. The emotional tale involves an elderly Paddington bear and his wife as they make their way through Arrivals, getting a lift on an airport buggy, struggling with a luggage carousel and dodging falling packets of shortbread to make their way to their loving family.