Another year. Another load of Christmas ads. Each decade of late bringing its own cultural take on how to celebrate and sell the season of goodwill. The 70s bought us kitsch, the 80s rampant consumerism and the 90s The Spice Girls and not a lot else. So what do the years of the “20teens” say about our Christmas culture.
We all know we have been in the austerity decade; one that has given birth to the rise of the “CRB” – the comfort retail brand. Brands that will provide you with a tantalizing glimpse of the world away from recession, a world where you will be cosseted and comforted.
The big daddy of them all? The John Lewis comfort super brand – reaching out from its cosy middle England routes and offering its own vision of middle class success and, for the last few years, the consumer has sat up and been entertained and indeed comforted. In its place as first to market it is still the leader of the pack.
The super brands’ competitors then took note and commissioned a stream of me too ads. So in 2013 that’s what we have; super comfort brands like John Lewis and M&S followed by a steady stream of look-alikes offering clothes, food and more. You can hear it in the corridors of every marketing and agency office; “this year we gotta have one of those big emotional ads; everyone is doing it”.
And that’s the trouble – its all getting a bit cheesy – almost 70s kitsch in a retro kind of way. The Morrisons ginger bread man about to be eaten by Ant and Dec is a particular moment of advertising history.
But there is hope. A quick trawl through the commercial reels and you can find some creative work that is attempting to move the game on a tad. Both Sainsbury’s and Tesco have used crowd sourcing/ quasi crowd sourcing to get in to people’s living rooms. I wonder if they knew they were both on the same path? It’s a start and probably is well liked in the home but it does feel a touch contrived even though Sainsbury’s spent hours collecting all the footage from real people. I’d take Sainsbury’s…
…over Tesco though; real vs. contrived crowd sourcing if you like.
McDonalds have given us a Grinch Christmas http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1222266/watch-mcdonalds-christmas-2013-ad/ or you can return to selfish 80s consumerism with Harvey Nicols http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/harvey-nichols-christmas-ad-sorry-i-spent-it-on-myself-campaign-breaks-mould-8966108.html
But you can’t beat the mix of emotion + glam + consumerism shown on the totally sumptuous ad from Baileys. Lovely. http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2013/november/ad-of-the-week-baileys-christmas-ad
If you want to break a few more boundaries you have to head to the States at the moment. Perhaps our over emotive ads could learn from this; after all recession appears to be on its way out. Time to just make people smile again its saying. Who needs emotion if you just want to have some fun?
Try the simple and charming “show your joe”,
the surreal but brilliant blow your turkey http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/duck-dynasty-stars-teach-you-how-not-blow-your-house-turkey-154060 or the rather disturbing Thanksgiving “twerk my turkey”. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/twerk-your-turkey-logo-thanksgiving_n_4312850.html
My favourite? One of the best emotional ads being played out now is not technically a Christmas ad. But its relevant to the season of goodwill, brave, tear jerking, uses a great story and proves that emotion, like dogs, is for life and not just for Christmas. http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-after-skyping-8-years-two-girls-special-bond-finally-meet-153609.
Now that’s a Happy Christmas.
Jonnie Galvin-Wright MCIM
Managing Director, Stuff Advertising