The busiest time of the year for retailers (as our Christmas Marketing Infographic explains) means intense competition for TV advertising campaigns. John Lewis blew £7 million on theirs, while Asda’s looks like they spent £70. So we thought we’d take a more in depth look at an array of eight clips that will be hitting our screens over and over and over again between now and December 25th. The gap in quality, effectiveness and ideas is astounding. From the charming to the charmless, the pompous to the plain, this is e-shot’s no holds barred critique:
Morrisons: Ant and Dec look more and more like ITV’s stylists have got hold of Merry and Pippin from Lord of the Rings with every passing yuletide. Nevertheless, this advert is actually not that bad. Yes there’s an unexplained dancing gingerbread man, the sickly Geordie duo and an annoying take on the song “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, but the food looks amazing and tempting which is a pretty direct aim of a Christmas advert. 6/10
Coca Cola: Have you ever analysed the lyrics to the choral music in this advert? “The holidays are coming, it’s always the real thing”. What does that even mean?! Anyway, I can be as pedantic as I want, but Coca-Cola have Christmas marketing sorted. To the extent that they’ve even managed to breed the urban myth that before Coca-Cola got involved Santa didn’t even wear red and white robes, and any deviations from their beloved annual clip would cause uproar.
Social media feeds are filled with slightly pathetic, nostalgic and overexcited love for the advert whenever it is first shown on TV each festive season. Though it doesn’t even seem like they have to do anything to make their Christmas campaign a success every year, if it ain’t broke… 9/10
Mark & Spencer’s
M&S: Let’s face it, M&S basically invented food porn. But since they abandoned the sexy voice talking over leisurely-poured custard or a carving knife slicing into a well-stuffed turkey in slow-motion, their adverts haven’t been as exciting. Well, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley falling into an Alice in Wonderland style fantasy world and losing her clothing for a moment is nearly there. Oh and then when the advert goes all Aladdin her clothes disappear again. Nice try, M&S.
Eventually, Helena Bonham Carter shows up, as do numerous models, things become a bit Wizard of Oz and then Huntington-Whiteley’s back in the “real” world. It’s probably too long, over-ambitious, and an odd mix of classic fantasy, fairy tales and festivity. But it shows off a wide range of the goods that M&S sell extremely well. Although it will hardly linger long in the public consciousness. 6/10
LEGO: This clip’s piano loop feels like we’re about to watch a Microsoft or Google advert, but quickly the quirky and imaginative selection of LEGO’s possible uses dispels that idea. The father and son team is really well worked to tug on the heartstrings, and the advert wins extra bonus points because it isn’t too blatantly Christmassy! No fake snow or paper-hat-filled family meal is thrust down your throat, instead relying on the simple attraction of paternal bonding. 6/10
Tesco: I’m a bit of a sucker for super 8mm-style home movie footage, not to mention Rod Stewart’s sultry tones. And to Tesco’s credit, the 1970’s footage that melts into the modern day is incredibly convincing, not really relying on clichés and making the actor’s ageing believable. The song eventually ends after a few final shots of food and fun, the Tesco logo appears with their famous “Every Little Helps” slogan, and I think it’s an incredibly effective and enjoyable campaign. 9/10
John Lewis: Their 2011 “For gifts you can’t wait to give” advert really seemed to connect with public sentiment. I reckon 2012’s effort was just as successful and innovative as John Lewis continued their Christmas marketing winning streak. However, this year’s ad is just plain boring. Admittedly it has nice animation – even if it is a shamelessly pale imitation of Watership Down mixed with classic Disney. The music is dreadful, as Lily Allen’s dull mockney voice dribbles out an excruciating version of an already dull song by Keane.
Anyway, there is one way John Lewis have triumphed at Christmas TV marketing in the past three years – and it probably just about justifies the £7m spent on this year’s effort – they’ve got people talking and the unveiling of each advert has become a mini event and newsworthy occurrence. But for content, festive spirit and enjoyment this only scrapes 8/10.
Debenhams: Models, luxury jewellery, more models, excited kids, Budapest, ice skating, lots of pretty lights and a romantic plot that’s slightly clearer than an arty perfume advert. This Debenhams ad takes elements of M&S and John Lewis’s campaigns – without the surreal experimentation and tear-jerking animation – there’s even the obligatory sexy underwear shot and a slow female sung backing ballad. It’s the opposite of ground-breaking, entirely unsubtle and not particularly memorable, but it presents ranges of the department store’s products in an attractive way. Boring, but nicely done. 6/10
Asda: This is awful. Just awful. Even if their marketing budget was 0.5% of the John Lewis advertising fund, it’d be no excuse. It feels as though a lazy 16 year old work experience kid was given an hour to come up with a vaguely festive concept to demonstrate how Asda are cheaper than their rivals. If their slogan was “our prices are as cheap as this advert”, then at least it would be funny. 2/10 Tweet