A knee-jerk reaction to this year’s big Christmas ads

Estimated read time: 19 minutes

Sing along with me now…

“Take me down to the paradise city…”

-I mean –

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”

That’s right, it’s November. Which can only mean one thing.

Fireworks? Well, yes, but not what I had in mind.

Remembrance? Again, yes, but…

My mum’s birthday? As it happens, yes that too, but you’re not ticking the right box.

It’s November, which obviously means it’s time for this year’s Christmas adverts to hit our screens, phones and life in general. After all, there’s only five weeks to go!

As appears to the way of things now, once Yuletide heartstring-tuggers John Lewis had unleashed their monster (pun intended) upon the world, it seemed to give the green light for everyone else to do the same.

Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a (sort of) marketing person if I didn’t offer some sort of opinion on these masterpieces, which is exactly what I’m using this blog to do.

I donned my favourite festive jumper, scoffed a mince pie, downed some mulled wine and watched a load of this year’s ads back-to-back. What follows is my gut reaction to each – enjoy.

John Lewis: Moz the Monster

No place to start other than the bigwigs of the genre. Now, as far as I was concerned, John Lewis were never going to top last year’s effort of a trampolining dog.

Why? Did you not see what I just wrote? Trampolining. DOG.

Anyway, even with limited expectations, I was pretty underwhelmed.

Let’s start with the monster under the bed. He’s weird, isn’t he? I mean, he looks like a guinea pig I used to have – if that guinea pig’s nose had been replaced with a scrotum filled with one giant testicle – and he’s incredibly irresponsible keeping that little boy up all night. Also, why is he named after some SEO software? Still, at least they can make some cuddly toy versions of him.

I also kept expecting school teachers or social services to turn up at some point to investigate why this child can’t stay awake during the day, or at least ask what the point of this advert actually is.

And then there’s the music. John Lewis ads are notorious for taking already terrible songs and making them even worse. But this year they’ve topped their own efforts – Elbow? Ew. If they want the child to get to sleep, forget the fancy nightlight and just play him anything by that band.

Sainsbury’s: Every Bit of Christmas


Just no.

Call me Scrooge all you like but karaoke, cheery dancing and, frankly, anything to do with musical theatre can jog on. Especially when your song’s crescendo hates on sprouts, one of the greatest and most underrated vegetables of all time. I won’t stand for people using song to diss my little green friends.

Also, interesting choice to use a load of their staff in this film given the massive round of redundancies Sainsbury’s announced recently. Maybe the money for this film would have been better spent keeping those guys in employment? Especially at Christmas.

Tesco: Turkey, Every Which Way

I’m going to ignore the ridiculous, racist rantings by, well, racists, that have followed this advert and instead stick to my plan and offer you my reaction to this piece, which shows all the possible ways of doing your Christmas turkey.

My reaction is, in fact, a question; hey Tesco, I’m a vegetarian. What do I get for dinner?

ASDA: The Imaginarium

Well, I’ve started on the supermarkets so I may as well plough on. Credit to ASDA, as their ad does have a least a sprinkle of festive magic among it. Nice colour treatment, a big nod to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a bostin’ (it’s dialect, look it up) soundtrack all make for a perfectly acceptable effort.

Also, credit to them for not getting ideas above their station. This advert screams “here’s all our Christmas shit – buy it plz” and that’s fine.

Morrisons: Christmas List

Why is the dialogue in this so awkward? Like, why does the little boy and the woman speak to each other like polite strangers, only for her to kiss him at the end with what I assume is parental love? Surely he’d call her ‘mum’?

And, is it just me, or is this one a bit sexist? The whole family might be in the supermarket, but the person actually doing the shopping – and reinforcing rubbish stereotypes – is the woman, before her man gets the glory of doing the carving bit at the end.

M&S: Paddington and the Christmas visitor

Christ(mas), there are a lot of supermarkets, aren’t there? Actually, I don’t mind this one at all – it reminded me how surprisingly good the first Paddington film was and told a nice festive story. It’s just a bit bubblegum, that’s all – the flavour of this ad runs out pretty quickly.

Update: so, thanks to this article, I now can’t unhear Paddington being delivered the f-bomb, so now you all can have the same problem too. #sorrynotsorry

Waitrose: Snowed In

If you’re looking for the best shot film of this collection, this is your winner. The sweeping landscape looks glorious, the pub looks cosy and friendly AF and facial expressions at the end are marvellous.

My only gripe is a potentially snobby one; would a pub’s larder really be stocked with Waitrose products? I know it’s their ‘essentials’ range but still, landlords are hardly rolling in it.

Aldi: Kevin the Carrot

The same character as last year from Aldi and, if memory serves me correctly, a very similar plot – just with added love interest. Not sure entirely which blockbuster they’re trying to tie themselves to here – it’s a kind of Titanic on the Orient Express at Christmas mashup.

But, the bit where Kevin sees the murdered gingerbread man and utters the line “crumbs”?…genius.

Lidl: Every Lidl Thing

One last supermarket offering, in the form of these bite-sized pieces from Lidl, which are probably my favourite of the lot. They get the job done and don’t stick around trying too hard.

That’s not to say they don’t evoke some emotion in me; the child wearing a Nottingham Forest shirt in the Cavalier Carver clip makes me sad (poor thing), the Mince Pie Maverick has me marvelled at his multitasking skills, while Double Dippers leaves me confused – is the party hostess angry at her guest’s terrible actions or not?

But, most of all, I’m thankful – one supermarket that actually caters for vegetarians!

Boots: Show Them You Know Them

Even though it makes my face tick with frustration, I’ll do my best to ignore the terrible #ShowThemYouKnowThem hashtag – #nope – and concentrate on the film itself, which is perfectly ok.

In fact, the idea is pretty good, but was that really the best dialogue they could come up with? Every line is a cliché cheesier than a post-Christmas lunch cheese board.

And the dialogue is pretty unrealistic too. I mean, who would open a present of something from Boots and exclaim “how did you know?” with festive glee and awe? Unless they hadn’t eaten all day and you’d given them a meal deal I truly don’t believe that person exists in real life.

House of Fraser: Bring Merry Back

Well, this is awkward. I wonder who had the sisters idea first? I suggest a Harry Hill style fight scene to find a winner.

Not on the High Street: Thoughtful Gifts

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a champion. No sentimental waffle, no forced family scenes, and no wishy-washy soundtrack. Just a simple film that makes you laugh and is done in a matter of seconds, lovely.

Debenhams: You Shall Find Your Fairytale Christmas

I’ve had to watch this a couple of times as it was so dull I struggled to stay awake on first viewing. Either there was serious budget behind this, or Ewan McGregor is a desperate shell of his former self to get involved with this yawnfest. Also, where exactly is this supposed to be set? The black cabs and escalators suggest London, but the trains and the architecture of the city say either New York or Paris.

Oh, and the little viral social media campaign our protagonists find themselves starting? Yes, all well and good, except it makes people who don’t understand this sort of thing think a simple hashtag will solve all their problems. On behalf of every social media manager who has wanted to stab someone for asking if we can make their latest thing go viral, I stick my tongue out at you Debenhams.

Argos: Ready For Take Off

This one is OK I suppose…I appreciate the nods to Home Alone and Die Hard 2 if nothing else.

Toys R Us: Geoffrey the Part Time Reindeer

Didn’t Toys R Us go bust? How can they afford this? And, more importantly, how on earth could a single giraffe do the work of eight reindeer. I’ve heard of more for less but that’s ridiculous.

Intu: Guide to Christmassing

Dear Intu, please take your revolving worlds and creepy AF bird puppets and kindly get out of my life.

Many thanks, Dave.

Very: Anna and Ulfie

While the animation here is very nicely done, I can’t be the only one who feels like this idea came from Very scrounging through John Lewis’ rejected ideas bin?

Vodafone: a Christmas Love Story

Has Martin Freeman officially been awarded National Treasure status yet? He really should be. This mini series, where he channels a bit of Love Actually to flog mobile phones is pretty good. Freeman is charming and the story is not too soppy…my only question is exactly what cause you to use your data on Vodafone? Because, by the look of these ads, nothing does!

eBay: celebrate Christmas like no-one else

Well, this is very zeitgeisty, isn’t it? Colours! GoPro! Millennials! And, just like the other zeitgeist trend of a worrying amount of electronics in rock music, I’m out.

Amazon: Give a Little Bit

Could someone shut those singing boxes up for a second so we can ask why the woman on her phone appeared to use the search phrase ‘find the perfect gift’. I’m no search expert, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t a great one.

Also, Amazon, you want to ‘give a little bit’ do you? How about all that tax you owe?

Currys PC World: Get it right

Wow. Hilarious…

The family in this advert – from the spoiled kids to the banter-loving parents – are the reason I don’t like most people. Especially when they try to tell us that buying a TV the size of a small flat in London is ‘what Christmas is all about’.

No. It isn’t. Sod off.

Talk Talk: This is Christmas

Well, whoever signed this off likes Gogglebox, don’t they? This is certainly very ‘real’, very ‘authentic’ and very ‘insert other random buzzword here’. It still doesn’t stop me from disliking the family in the ad. And, judging by the final shot of an otherwise deserted street, it appears their neighbours agree with me.

Barbour: The Snowman and The Snowdog

Let me tell you a bit about Chionoandrophobia – or, in Plain English, a fear of snowmen. It’s very real and this time of year is no fun for sufferers. Barack Obama had itthis poor guest on The Morning did well not punch someone because of it and, you guessed it, I have it.

So this effort from Barbour, featuring the return to life of a terrifying creature we’d all assume was long-since melted, can GTFO of my life right now.

Also, just how old is that Snowdog exactly?

TK Maxx: A White Christmas

I may just have gone mad from watching far too many Christmas ads back-to-back, but I think this is great. Now then TK Maxx, shut up, take my money and make haste with that snow machine – just don’t expect me to make any snowmen.

Over to you!

What do you think? What’s your favourite? Am I just cynical Scrooge? Let me know!