Giles Keeble: Christmas ads only come but once a year – thank God

Maybe there should be a watershed for Christmas ads. Not allowed on TV before the week before. This year’s lot have not done much to change that view. There are the usual brands that basically show as many products as they can with appropriate music and – if the budget and availability allows – the odd celebrity. M&S with Dawn French and Ryan Reynolds, ASDA with Michael Bublé for example. Or singing oven gloves for Morrisons. Nevertheless, there seems to be a slight ‘anti-Christmas’ approach with a ‘just kidding’ ending. M&S, again, with a range of celebs destroying traditional Christmas things and John Lewis, with a different kind of Xmas tree.

This year, the kind of emotional film done so well in previous years for John Lewis is for Lidl, with the kind and helpful racoon. Shot in NY I think due to the absence of racoons in the UK. Quite nice if a bit similar in tone to past JL ads.

But what should we make of this year’s John Lewis ad? It says a lot for them and their previous agency that waiting for the ad had become a key part of the Xmas run up. This year’s offering doesn’t quite work for me. It’s well shot with a nice soundtrack and the fly-trap is well animated, but it just feels neither one thing or the other.

And there are still some celebrating the ‘joys’ of Christmas, like the Tesco film which is just about as excruciating as the teenager in it feels about Christmas – until the end. Christmas grows on you?

These ads are now part of the commercial Christmas warm up, along with Slade, Bing Crosby et al. No doubt we will also hear a lot of Fairy Tale of New York given the death of Shane MacGowan – a great song that I doubt many who play it at this time of year understand.

If all this seems a bit ‘Bah Humbug!’ for an antidote to all these commercial commercials I can only suggest reading Laurie Lee’s ‘Village Christmas’.

Christmas ads come but once a year. Thank God.

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