Bah, Humbug: It’s that time of year again (and again and again). Guest reviewer Ebenezer Scrooge (left) gives his exclusive opinion of the UK’s current crop of Christmas commercials.
As most of you will know I am not a fan of Christmas. So, who better than me to cast a dispassionate eye over the Christmas advertising offerings of the big stores and supermarkets? Let’s start with the Daddy Christmas of them all, John Lewis.
I know I come from a different age, but I can’t for the life of me understand what’s going on in this commercial. Why would anybody – let alone a hare – wish to wake up a bear on Christmas Day? I tell you this, if I could sleep right through the Festive Season I would. And why doesn’t the bear eat the hare, and all the other tasty morsels of animals that gambol around the Christmas tree – especially after such a rude awakening? I see that none other than AA Gill in the Sunday Times agrees and has used my name in critical mention of this commercial. ‘It left me Scroogeishly dry-eyed’ he says, and goes on, ‘the animation was tedious, the concept idiotic, the purpose cynically saccharine’. My thoughts entirely. Scrooge Rating: Bah Humbug times one.
Now let’s turn to Sainsbury’s. I believe this commercial is the result of something called ‘crowdsourcing’. When this was explained to me it made even less sense than the John Lewis commercial. Apparently, a whole bunch of people give their time and effort free of charge to a large corporation like Sainsbury’s on the vague off-chance that something they’d videoed over last Christmas might be used in this year’s commercial. As far as I am concerned, they needn’t have bothered. The commercial sent me off into a bear-like sleep. It begins with a twat in a Santa Claus hat singing ‘Deck the halls with holly’ and goes downhill from there. I am told that a top Hollywood director called Kevin McDonald directed this commercial. Kevin, take the advice of a very old man. Don’t give up the day job. Scrooge Rating: Bah Humbug times two.
Third up, the offering from Marks and Spencer. To misquote Noel Coward, this Christmas commercial seemed longer and more tedious than the day itself. It’s loosely based on Alice in Wonderland with what looks like a scene from the Wizard of Oz at the end. I am told it is full of famous people acting their M&S socks off, but being from the Victorian age, I don’t recognise any of them. My knowledge of literature is, as you’d expect, largely confined to Dickens, but I don’t remember a magic carpet sequence in either of the above-named books, either. Again, this strikes me as being as sickly and saccharine as a Marks and Spencer Christmas pudding. Scrooge Rating: Bah Humbug times one.
Now to Tesco. If ever there was a ghost of Christmas past, this is it. Advertising people tell me that this sort of idea has been used dozens of times before. I wouldn’t know, but I can tell you this: I found this spot as soporific as the Sainsbury’s ad. Another dull compilation of ‘Christmas moments’, made marginally more interesting by the fact that they apparently take place in the sixties. The song by somebody called Rod Stewart that accompanies it is jolly, I suppose. But being jolly is the thing I hate most about Christmas. And as for the end line, ‘there’s nothing better than Christmas’, oh yes there is, almost any other day of the year. Scrooge Rating: Bah Humbug times any number you care to name.
Morrison’s seem to have borrowed one of the sets from the Marks and Spencer commercial for their Christmas ad. Two idiotic looking young men, one with a giant forehead, sit down at a table to watch an equally idiotic animated cookie wearing a Morrison’s logo dance and sing. When he’s finished there’s every indication that one of the young idiots is about to eat him, but we cut away before we can be sure. Personally, I wish the bloke with the big forehead had eaten him right at the beginning then we might have been spared most of this visual hash of total tosh. As it is, a commercial that runs for one minute seems to go on forever. Scrooge Rating: Bah Humbug – I can’t be arsed, as I believe you 21st Century people say when feeling indolent – you choose how many times.
Finally, let’s look at Aldi. The best thing about this commercial is that at 30 seconds it’s mercifully short. It also attempts to sell something, which is honest at least. My advertising experts tell me that it plays into their regular campaign ‘like brands only cheaper’. There’s lots of Christmas in there, but the scenes are charming, rather than saccharine. Again, being me, I could take issue with their end line, ‘there’s a lot to like about Christmas’. As far as I am concerned, there isn’t. But of all the commercials, this was the one I liked the best. Scrooge Rating: Bob Cratchit.
There you have it, my opinion of half a dozen Christmas commercials. I thank the Lord that Christmas only comes once a year. And, if I am honest, the turkeys of ads that come with it. I can’t bear to wish you, kind readers, happy Christmas, but my best wishes for the New Year.
(Mr Scrooge was talking to Mike Everett).