December is upon us already, and with the onslaught of Christmas tunes in coffee shops and questionable Christmas jumpers comes the phenomena that is the Christmas advert. It’s hard to miss how the Christmas advert has grown in popularity over recent years. Only a few years ago, the only company or brand that got any major publicity from its Christmas advert was John Lewis. Now however, we’ve got all sorts of different companies jumping on the Christmas advert bandwagon trying to squeeze a little more money out of the public.
In the process of writing this article I watched a ridiculous amount of Christmas adverts from the last five years and it’s become clear that in advertising, Christmas only happens to children and old people. Once you start noticing it, you won’t be able to stop. Because by focusing on those age brackets, the companies are trying to tug on your heartstrings by making you go, ‘oh look at that sweet child or lonely old man, look how Christmas makes them happy when they buy things from our brand.’ This idea might sound cynical, but the type of adverts that flaunt and romanticize capitalism and consumerism are completely void entities that lack any ounce of emotion and Christmas spirit.
But not all Christmas adverts of 2017 have been like this. One of the best adverts this year came from an unexpected source: Sky Cinema. It keeps things simple with its concept, focusing around a mother and daughter who watch The Sound of Music every year at Christmas. What makes it so successful is how relatable it is. Almost everyone has films that they watch with family at Christmas, and they invoke the nostalgia that we experience when we continue these traditions rather than focusing on spending money for the sake of spending money.
Of course, John Lewis was back with another sweet advert. While it may not have quite lived up to the hype that they have crafted for themselves, the story of a boy who becomes friends with the monster under his bed is still rather adorable.
Marks and Spencer’s Christmas advert is extremely clear and upfront with its tie-ins to the Paddington Bear movie, but as he turns a would-be robber in a would-be Santa, it manages to be quite heartwarming in the way that only that silly little bear can be.
The concept for Sainsbury’s Christmas advert is very sweet; by having people from all across the country sing a Christmas themed song. Unfortunately though, the song itself is more annoying than tuneful and if I could, I would fast-forward through this advert whenever it came on.
It does increasingly seem though, that the Christmas advert is completely unrelated to the company or product. It has become less about actually selling products and more about the publicity a successful Christmas advert can bring.
But the best Christmas adverts aren’t the ones that desperately try to construct an idealized artificial representation of Christmas by ramming a load of dancing elves down your throat. The best Christmas adverts are the ones that capture the magic and emotions of Christmas.