Ad Nauseam: The Best & Worst Festive Adverts
You’ll no doubt remember last year’s John Lewis Christmas advert. Eloquently entitled “The Long Wait”, it was, in fact, so touching that it made Phillip Schofield and Cat Deeley weep, and in doing so redefined the entire concept of adverts.
No longer is advertising a medium used to sell undesirable tat to idiots; it’s now a form of high art, soundtracked by insufferably twee and uninspired covers of good songs.
Now up there with some of the great innovators of visual media (Bergman, Fellini, Godard, etc.), John Lewis are back this year with an equally eye-watering short film. It’s called “The Journey” and tells the story of a consumerist snowman who braves blizzards to pop into John Lewis and bring his snow wife back a present for Christmas.
As expected, it has received mostly positive reviews, unlike Asda’s Christmas offering this year, which was lambasted by The Telegraph for implying that women do everything at Christmas, while men just sit around stuffing their faces.
I mean, it’s as if Asda didn’t even consider The Telegraph’s male readership when they dreamed up an ad aimed at low-income mums. Of course, Morrisons are just as bad; their Christmas ad features a suicidal woman literally wrestling with a turkey as well as, it seems, an urge to stick her own head in the oven.
Pumped up on valium, she’s eventually able to resist despair, concluding, as she gazes up at her awful family from across the dinner table, that she “wouldn’t have it any other way”.
God. Remember when Christmas ads were fun? Besides Debenhams with their unintentionally camp “make Christmas fabulous” campaign, I can’t help feeling that this is a miserable year for Christmas adverts. Gone, seemingly, are the days when shameless commercialism was an ad’s primary function.
Remember that great Toys R Us one? Not the irritating monstrosity currently on our screens, where a grown woman tragically sings a song about not wanting to grow up, but the animated one with the giraffe and the indecipherable lyrics (“There’s millions of debris all under one roof”?).
How about that classic advert where the young boy stands on the Yellow Pages so that he can kiss a girl under the mistletoe?
You can bet that if that came out in depressing 2012, they’d have had him bludgeoning her around the head with the spine of the book first — or there’d be some kind of saddening conclusion where we find out that the boy is actually terminally ill. And then Phillip Schofield would cry.
Thankfully, the powers that be are yet to get rid of the “holidays are coming” Coca-Cola ad, which is surely enough to make anybody rise from their chair and excitedly chase after the nearest red truck down the road.
The ad for Hellman’s mayonnaise is another annual classic, and an advert that hasn’t really changed since it first aired back in—I don’t know, 1927? I don’t even particularly like mayonnaise and yet I still don’t consider it officially Christmas until this has been on the television.
But our American friends have us well and truly beat when it comes to Christmas commercials, as evidenced by this demonically festive nightmare from Vern Fonk Insurance. You’ll find no sappy Christmas message here—no unbearable faux-folk music, no depressed mums — although it will still make you cry.