14/11/2012

By Liz Lancashire

There’s no going back, it’s full steam ahead to Christmas now that the Christmas ads are on the telly box. As soon as M&S roll out the mince pies and brandy cream food porn, it lights the way for the rest of the country to put up the decs, start making lists, buying Christmas jumpers and making strange homemade cocktails from the Absinthe and Advocaat at the back of the drinks cupboard.

It always happens around the same time that the clocks go back. The dark nights coincide with the start of the Christmas ads and all of a sudden I’m pouring myself a Baileys and watching Groundhog Day.

The big players have all gone for different tactics this year. Tesco says it is aiming to promote a feeling rather than a festive season and wants to highlights the benefits of shopping at Tesco better than it has previously. So far it’s dull, but perhaps a story will unfold.

The John Lewis ad debuted on TV during Derren Brown’s Apocalypse on Friday 9th November, and is another epic production. It is the story of two ‘snowpeople’, the snowman going to the ends of the earth to find the perfect present. I get that it represents the joy of gift giving, but all I can think of when I see the ad is a tweet I read that suggested it perfectly represented the difficulty of maintaining a relationship at home while away on a gap year. I didn’t write the tweet, I’m not laying claim to it, but it did make me laugh. However, the ad is still touching.

The John Lewis ad is in direct contrast to its counterpart, Waitrose. Waitrose has gone ‘unglamorous’, with no set, and Delia and Heston taking no fee for the ad. Instead Waitrose will donate £1M to good causes. A lovely sentiment, or manipulative if you’re a cynic.

Also knocking glamour on the head this year is Asda (thought whether Asda has ever done glamour is debatable). The ad shows a stressed out mother facing the realities of Christmas including the present buying, the wrapping and the cooking, but the ad has received complains via the ASA for sexism. A bit harsh, and tweets from mums who believe it truly represents their own Christmas support my opinion.

If you’ve seen the Morrisons ad, you’ll probably see the similarities to the Asda ad, but it uses far more mirth and humour. Both real and surreal, I’m sure the inspiration for the turkey scene came from Davis Lynch’s freakshow film, Eraserhead. Despite giving me disturbed dreams, this is definitely a winner. A real laugh out loud hit.

Debenhams returns to the screens after a six year break from Christmas advertising with plans to position it in the John Lewis and M&S territory. And M&S has glammed it up by using Beyonce’s Single Ladies video director Jake Nava. This year they’ve dumped the celebrities and are using models of all shapes and sizes, including Seb White, who has Down’s Syndrome. And importantly Seb is not the star attraction in the ad, but just another member of the cast.

It will be interesting to see which retailers fair best when they announce their sales figures post season, but I can’t help thinking Morrisons will do well for its weird but funny ad, and despite criticism for not connecting with its core shoppers, the 50+ woman, M&S is onto a winner.

That’s my view, what’s yours? Cast your vote in our just for fun Facebook poll.