Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

November, a LITTLE Roundup

Friday, December 6th, 2019

The month of November has been another busy one for the LITTLE team, but we’ve still managed to cram in: a (peppercorn) saucy photoshoot for Stockdales of Yorkshire, the launch of Eleventh Hour Beauty, two Bensons videos, and then we topped the month off with the construction of our very own in-office Christmas Grotto!

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details…

Stockdales photoshoot 

There were baubles, steak and gravy aplenty – and, no, that’s not a new addition to the menu – at the Stockdales of Yorkshire photoshoot in November. 

We snapped shots of their new menu alongside speciality Christmas dishes, mouth-watering Sunday roasts, desserts and festively dressed dining areas.

We walked away with some magical shots, and strangely full stomachs. Where did that Yorkshire pudding go? 

Beats me. 

Eleventh Hour Beauty launch

We launched the Eleventh Hour Beauty app and website in November with an event at Wynyard Hall in Stockton-on-Tees. 

The event was a huge success, with great turn-out from salons, hair and beauty businesses from across the North-East of England.

We don’t know which was better – hearing all about the revolutionary new way of booking last-minute hair and beauty appointments through the Eleventh Hour platform, from the CEO herself, Abigail Fletcher, or the generous amount of cupcakes. 👀

 

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We’re all set for tonight’s salon pre-launch event at Wynyard Hall! Are you joining us? Come and find out everything you need to know about Eleventh Hour Beauty! • • • • • #beauty #beautyapp #eleventhhour #event #launch #beautysalon

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Bensons Gas Engineering and Panels

We shot two separate videos for Bensons in November, one to showcase the gas engineering side of the business, and the other to promote their panels offering.

We focused on making the Bensons team appear as friendly and approachable on film as they are in real life in the gas engineering video, filming on an active, busy site for authenticity.

For the panel video, our focus was on the professional service that Bensons offer, being sure to display the technical expertise of the staff by filming at the Bensons factory. This way, we could show viewers all of the different areas of the panel building process.

The shoot was a success – even with the nippy winter weather! – and we gathered some fantastic footage that we can’t wait to show off after editing.

The LITTLE Grotto 

The approach to December gave the LITTLE team a BIG Christmas itch, so we decided to take action and stop waiting for the festive magic to come to us. Because as they say “If the Christmas won’t come to the studio, the studio will come to the Christmas.”

Or something like that.

We designed our very own studio Christmas grotto, complete with wooden cladding (fake), snow (fake), and a love of the festive season (very real). There’s a “no shoes, no shirt, no Santa hat, no entry” policy and Christmas music playing around the clock (fake).

grotto

In addition to our grotto, we also launched our LITTLE Charity Christmas Raffle, in aid of St George’s Crypt, to spread Christmas cheer to those less fortunate. So please get involved and enter for the chance to win some incredible prizes!

 

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Introducing… LITTLE’s Christmas Charity Raffle 2019! • Christmas is a wonderful time for many, but it can be easy to forget those who are less fortunate than us. • We’re trying to spread a LITTLE cheer this Christmas, by hosting a Christmas Charity Raffle in aid of @stgeorgescrypt, who do a remarkable job in supporting homeless and vulnerable people in Leeds. • Our lovely clients have donated some fantastic prizes that are sure to make great early Christmas presents – so please dig deep and get involved! • Click the link in our bio to find out more 🔝 ​• ​• ​• ​#OurCityWeCare #Fundraising #Cryptmas #charity #giving #stgeorgescrypt #charityevent #charityraffle #getinvolved #charityfundraiser #marketing #marketingagency #christmascountdown #raffle #santasgrotto #leeds

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Well, there goes another month for the LITTLE team. The end of 2019 is fast approaching, but there’s still December to go, so watch this space for more LITTLE achievements to come!

Our 2019 LITTLE Christmas Ad Roundup

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Image credit: Very/John Lewis/Sainsbury’s

Singing parcels, unimpressed ornaments and Robbie Williams cameoing as a carrot. Welcome to the state of Christmas advertising in 2019!

You’re probably thinking “Oh, here we go, here are 10 minutes of brown-nosing every advert that’s graced our screens this year.”

Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, we’ve actually been pretty brutal this year – even if we’re all in agreement that Excitable Edgar is the best character ever to grace this sorry planet.

Myself, Lucy and Anna sat down and watched 12 (nice Christmassy number) of the adverts that have been doing the rounds in 2019, and delivered our honest verdicts. We’ve rated each advert in turkeys (with five turkeys being the best, and vice versa).

Read on to watch the adverts for yourself and to find out which one we crowned as 2019’s champion:

1. John Lewis: Melting hearts everywhere



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Poor Edgar, he just wants to be a part of Christmas, but every time he tries it goes up in, literal, flames. 

An age-old tale of freakish outcast overcoming diversity to become a member of the crew, John Lewis succeeded in pulling heartstrings, and it’s definitely one of this year’s best. 

You can burn my tree down any time Edgar. 

Josh: 

That bloody adorable purple scarf he wears around his nose during the unveiling of the town Christmas tree; it’s simply brilliant.

I’ve always been sceptical of the John Lewis adverts over the years, usually branding them as incredibly overrated (Moz the Monster was absolute dirt), but this year they’ve definitely won me over with a heartwarming tale of Edgar and his over-excitement for anything Christmas-related.

P.S. Bastille’s Dan Smith also does a great job covering REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t Stop This Feeling Anymore’.

Lucy: 

Put it this way, I never thought that a dragon setting fire to a Christmas Pudding would break my heart, but here we are. 

I can’t fight this feeling anymore – I would literally die for Edgar, the over-excited star of this year’s John Lewis advert. All he wants to do is enjoy Christmas! I even felt that sorry for him that I was sucked in by John Lewis’ marketing techniques, and now own an Edgar of my own. 

After a few disappointing years from John Lewis (don’t even get me started on last year’s ‘efforts‘), they’ve certainly bounced back this year.  

2. Not-so-amazing Amazon



Our rating: 🦃

Anna: 

The advert opens on a small piano-playing child singing with a lisp. Instant suspicion hits about how terrible this advert is about to be. And Amazon does not disappoint. 

Awkward train romances are coupled with irritating singing boxes, and a blatant attempt at emotional blackmail; an overworked Amazon delivery driver returning to her kids for Christmas. 

Maybe if you’d ease up on the hours, Amazon, she wouldn’t be so surprised to see her kids…

Josh: 

“Everybodyyyy, should treat their staff properly” – This 90-second yawn-fest portrays an unrealistic view of what the typical Amazon employee probably goes through on a daily basis. Not Christmassy enough, and not memorable whatsoever. 

Next.

Lucy:

At first, I thought I liked this year’s Amazon ad. But then I realised, I only like the song.

Amazon has resurrected its singing parcels for this year’s adverts. Nothing has really changed, except the packages are singing Solomon Burke’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’. 

Honestly? There’s nothing ‘Christmassy’ about this ad – apart from a token Christmas tree and a few baubles. No wonder I have a lack of Christmas cheer this year…

3. IKEA: Silence the harshest critics



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Silence the critics, and strange rapping ornaments with IKEA this Christmas. 

IKEA’s ad is… Different, and definitely leaves a mark. However, it lacks a certain something extra, and the grime-style rapping doesn’t really give you that “Christmas is coming” feeling. 

Sorry IKEA.

Josh: 

Hilarious and quite frankly underrated. Grime legend D Double E has created an absolute belter for this year’s IKEA Christmas ad, urging a lacklustre family to sort out their gaff for Christmas. Apart from the fact that it isn’t exceptionally Christmassy, it’s perfect.

Lucy:

This year’s IKEA ad is less about silencing the critics, and more about silencing judgemental ornaments. We joked that it was “that bad it’s good” – but it’s fresh and fun. I’m a fan. 

Sure, it may not be very, very, very, very, very, very Christmassy – but a rapping t-rex will always have my vote.

4. Aldi: “Is that Robbie Williams?”



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

A Frankenstein’s monster mishmash of Peaky Blinders, The Greatest Showman and a butchered Robbie Williams classic. 

The colourful animation and playful characters save Aldis advert from being a complete turkey, but it feels like a desperate grab at pop culture favourites to seem ‘relevant’. And even the most inexperienced Christmas ad viewer knows the truth, Christmas is never about relevance, it’s about nostalgia. 

Josh: 

I’m really torn with this one. I hate it so much, but I know that everyone loves it, so I respect it in some kind of weird way. Kind of like Wes Mantooth and Ron Burgundy.

When I saw the promotional adverts for this one, I thought “Great, Leafy Blinders, Peaky Blinders. I can get on board with this.” then when it wasn’t about that, I saw the Greatest Showman theme emerge and thought “Okay, a couple of decent tunes in that film let’s have it.” 

BUT NO, it’s Robbie Williams pretending to be a carrot singing about mince pies and cream? 

Forget it.

Lucy:

I’m pretty sure when McCann was discussing this year’s Aldi advert, the conversation went something like this…

“What’s relevant this year, guys?”

“Peaky Blinders, The Greatest Showman… have you heard Robbie Williams needs work?” 

And ta-da, Kevin’s latest outing was born. I didn’t mind it at first, but then I realised how strange it was. A sprout with a vendetta against a carrot? They’re right; it will be hanging around all Christmas.

5. Don’t even get us started on Asda



Our rating: 🦃

Anna: 

Two unchecked youths parade around town wielding a reckless amount of Christmas magic, turning innocent citizens into snowmen, their homes into confectionary and the streets a giant-bauble bloodbath. 

It’s a no from me. 

Josh: 

So, you’ve stolen your (presumably deceased) Grandad’s old walking stick, along with other miscellaneous house items, created some weird device to catch some northern lights dust, and ran around town chucking said dust everywhere? This doesn’t scream Christmas; it screams immediate ASBOs for both of them.

All jokes aside, I understand what they’re trying to do, and while I do typically prefer a Christmas advert that takes place at night, the whole thing is just weird.

Lucy:

Ah, because nothing says ‘hypocrisy’ like creating an ad about making Christmas’ Extra Special’, knowing that there are more redundancies in the pipeline, does it, Asda?

Hypocrisy aside, there’s something very… underwhelming about this year’s effort from Asda. The sweetness of this year’s story – two siblings capturing (and sharing) the magic of Christmas – is laid on that thick that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Sorry Asda, I’m not a fan.

6. Is that a Very advert?



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Easy viewing. A street comes together to make one old man feel a little less lonely on Christmas. 

Is it a sweet message? Yes. 

Have Very reached for the stars, stretching their creative capacity beyond human reason? Nope. 

It’s OKAY.   

Josh: 

Simple, not incredibly original, but it works! I like this one a lot, not only because it samples an absolute banger in Rudimental’s ‘Feel The Love’, it encompasses a heartwarming theme without being too daring or controversial.

Lucy:

When I first saw the Very advert, I only stopped to watch it because of the small dog (I see a theme emerging)… 

Anyway, fast-forward forty seconds, and my heart was suitably warmed. Sure, Very have played it safe, but the emerging themes of community, gift-giving and coming together at Christmas resonated with me. 

Well played, Very, well played.  

7. Hang on – did Sainsbury’s invent Santa Claus?



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna:

Sainsbury’s dives for the ye-olde Dickensian heartstrings with an orphan-centric tale of triumph over injustice, and also the possible origin story of Father Christmas… What? 

Most notably, the villain of the piece is a Fagin-esque maniac that eats oranges. Without. Peeling. Them. 

Clearly, he is a monster, a fruit anarchist with ZERO respect and dignity. Oh, and the child labour thing is also questionable. 

Fun, well-executed and memorable. I really enjoyed this one.  

Josh:

Why did he eat a full orange without peeling it? Anyway, Nicholas the Sweep is well-executed Christmas advert that is littered with puns (look out for the ‘zero emissions’ sign on Mrs Sainsbury’s carriage) and while it won’t go down as one of the best ever made (they were never going to top Plug Boy in 2018), I enjoyed watching it.

Claiming to invent Santa Claus is a bit bold though Sainsbury’s, bloody hell.

Lucy:

Oh dear. The #PlugLife definitely didn’t choose Sainsbury’s this year.

I was honestly expecting better from Sainsbury’s this year – they’re riding high on their 150th anniversary, after all. Instead, they take us way back to when it all began, emphasising child labour, exploitation, and a cameo appearance from Little Saint Nick (literally).

Another supermarket, another disappointment.

8. More reindeer treats please, McDonald’s



Our rating: 🦃🦃

Anna: 

McDonald’s goes for an angle that anyone with siblings will immediately be able to sympathise with; ruining it for your younger, annoying sibling. Unfortunately, they decide to backtrack and turn it into a tale of sisterly support and chicken McNuggets. Shame.  

Josh: 

A nice story, so why did I feel sad the whole time watching it? I get what it’s supposed to be about, but I just didn’t feel particularly drawn in. The dog is cool, and I can’t fault the animation, but why didn’t the older sister just ask for some McNuggets the first time they went around the drive-thru? 

What an absolute pain in the arse having to go round again…

Lucy:

Being an only child, the older/younger sibling dynamic is lost on me in this year’s effort from McDonald’s. 

Ultimately, the only thing that kept me engaged was an adorable animated reindeer, which made the ‘big reveal’ at the end at bit underwhelming. For me, it didn’t make me feel anything – but I’m sure other people will see it differently.

9. Where’s Mrs C, Barbour?



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Barbours ad features a grumpy Father Christmas who relies on his Barbour jacket to see him through the season. Nice animation, a good script, but it feels oddly off-brand for the luxury fashion house. 

A solid OKAY. 

Josh: 

Love the animation and the nostalgic style of this one – it’s a well-known fact that Christmas Eve is better than Christmas Day so this one really appealed to me. But, is Mrs Claus dead? Why? Why do that to us?

Also, the fact that Santa lives in a semi-detached three bed in London (judging by his accent) kind of ruins the magic of Christmas a bit.

Lucy:

I actually really like Barbour’s Christmas ad this year. A heritage character combined with a heritage brand – what’s not to love? Sure, it may not tug at the heartstrings, or give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, but it does the job.

I just wish they hadn’t implied that Mrs C was no longer with us…

10. Find Visa Somebody to Love



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

The message behind Visa’s Christmas ad is great; spread the money around, don’t put all your eggs in an Amazon shaped basket and call it a day – there are real people out there, you know. 

But, alternate opinion, had any of these vendors considered that the dated and untidy state of their stores is the reason for their lack of success? Meh.  

Josh: 

Absolutely no-one can sing in this advert, but I quite like that. It’s like when they used to get all the rubbish ones from the X-Factor auditions back for the final to absolutely butcher a song.

The demise of the British high street is something that is quite sad (cheers Amazon), so the idea is solid. Maybe I will nip into some independent shops this Christmas.

Lucy:

It seems ironic to include both Amazon and Visa in this list, as Visa definitely want to pull people away from the convenience of a certain eCommerce giant in favour of convincing you to visit those independent shops you definitely follow on Instagram but have never stepped foot in.

Maybe that will change this Christmas – who knows?

11. Don’t You (Forget about Argos this Christmas)



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

Possibly the best of them all in my opinion, the Argos ad embraces the fun of Christmas and the playful side of parents and children, with subtle nostalgic undertones: circling your favourite toys in the long-awaited Argos catalogue, and Simple Minds, Don’t You (Forget About Me), forming the soundtrack. 

Love it.

Josh: 

Argos have absolutely nailed it this year. It’s funny, it’s relevant, and it doesn’t make you cry. Just a bloke and his daughter shredding the drums in the kitchen, you can’t beat it; who cares if it’s past her bedtime?

Circling stuff in the Argos catalogue before Christmas was certainly a staple of my childhood, so this one is particularly special. 

Could be the best one of them all, actually.

Lucy:

Argos play the nostalgia card this year, and I am LIVING FOR IT. 

Featuring fond memories that any 90s child will hold dear – dropping your parents’ not-so-subtle hints at what you wanted for Christmas courtesy of the Argos catalogue – are brought to the forefront of this year’s ad. 

With a killer soundtrack to boot, there’s no way I’ll be forgetting about this year’s Argos ad any time soon – they’ve managed to pull something special out of the catalogue.

12. This isn’t just any food advert…



Our rating: 🦃🦃🦃

Anna: 

The M&S advert isn’t genius and doesn’t even ATTEMPT to make you cry, but it does the job. M&S puts its food in the spotlight, and cheesy cliches are left on the sidelines to make room for… Well, actual cheese. 

By the time the advert had come to an end, I knew one thing: I wanted to eat that delicious cheese and would pay M&S prices for the pleasure. 

Hell, I’d even consider a turkey. 

Success. 

Josh: 

This one has got a lot of stick this year. Even the YouTube comments absolutely destroy it. It’s nothing special, but I do like the Christmassy scene and music, and M&S have managed to again do what other supermarkets have consistently failed to do for so many years; made their food look really nice.

Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis don’t exactly do much, but I don’t think this advert is as bad as people suggest.

Lucy:

I think the big supermarkets could learn a lot from M&S Food’s Christmas ad this year. All you really need to do is showcase the food, because, ultimately, it’s all we’re bothered about anyway. Sure, the setting is lovely (the snow is falling, and children are singing), but Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis don’t add anything to it. 

Honestly? The only thing I’m thinking about by the time it’s over is that Brie En Crûte.

So, who was 2019’s big winner?

This was a tough one. For us, the two favourites were easily John Lewis and Argos, and after much deliberation in the studio, we’ve come to the conclusion that Edgar is simply too adorable to ignore. So, while sounding incredibly cliché, this year’s Christmas advert winner is:

⭐️⭐️⭐️JOHN LEWIS⭐️⭐️⭐️

Credit: John Lewis

But do they compare to our all-time favourites?

Everyone’s got that one Christmas advert that they’ll always remember as their most treasured. From the heartwarming to the downright tragic, there’s always something for everyone. Here are the three adverts that have resonated with us the most over the years:

Anna’s Favourite: Sainsbury’s 2014




This is the ad that always springs to mind when I think of Christmas advertising. Five years on, and this ad is still entirely relevant, telling a tale of humanity, friendship without borders, charity and peace.
Based on a true story of a Christmas truce between English and German soldiers in WWI, Sainsbury’s took an incredibly moving real-world event and brought it to life.

It has the power to make you cry, smile and believe just a little bit more in humanity.

This is a Christmas ad that will stand the test of time, and is, in my opinion, unbeaten.

Josh’s Favourite: McDonald’s 2010

“A feeeeestive deluxe meal, la la la la la fries, what drink? A chicken and bacon supreme with a ba na na na na na na na milkshake, cheese melt dippers with bags of ketchup, sweet and sour for me please, a Terry’s Chocolate Orange McFlurry and A Feeeeestive Pie.” BANGER. YOU HAVE NOT SEEN LYRICISM LIKE THIS SINCE TUPAC SHAKUR I TELL YOU.

Quick, cheerful and memorable for the last nine years. I will always draw on this advert when asked about my favourite. McDonald’s 2010 marketing team, I take my hat off to you.

Lucy’s Favourite: John Lewis 2014




As my favourite ads from this year have proven, I have a penchant for cute characters that melt my heart – which is probably why John Lewis’ 2014 Christmas Advert, featuring Monty the forlorn penguin, is one of my all-time favourites.
Everything about it – from Tom Odell’s rendition of ‘Real Love’ to Monty and Mabel living happily ever after – gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. More importantly, it’s memorable – every year, I find myself asking “but does it beat Monty the Penguin?”.

With the exception of this year, nothing has come close.

Summary

As another year flies by where brands big and small pretend that they actually care about the spirit of Christmas in their advertising efforts to get you to give them all of your hard-earned money (Yes John Lewis, we’re looking at you, you literally don’t exist throughout the rest of the year), we can’t help but be drawn in yet again by some brilliant narratives. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Have we missed out your favourite Christmas advert? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

LITTLE’s Christmas Charity Raffle 2019

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Update: You helped us raise a fantastic £1100!

As much as we all love Christmas – the time of year for loving and giving, not everyone is lucky enough to spend this time gathered around the tree, opening gifts with friends and family.

This year, we’re hoping to give a LITTLE back to those less fortunate, by turning our studio into a grotto (yes, we’re serious!) and hosting a charity raffle in aid of St George’s Crypt.

We’ve had some fantastic prizes donated that are sure to make your Christmas extra special, so please dig deep and help us to make a difference for some of those who have nothing this year.

Raffle entries cost £10 per ticket, and you can purchase as many as you like! You can enter free of charge via our JustGiving page, or using PayPal. Please ensure you leave your full name for us to contact you. All prizes have been kindly donated to us, and ALL of the proceeds go to St George’s Crypt in Leeds. We will allocate one ticket to every £10 donation.

*Please note the draw is now complete and all prizes have been allocated*

Purchase your raffle ticket:

And the winner’s are…

Click here to watch the prize draw live video.

Click here to watch the prize draw live video.

St George’s Crypt:

St George’s Crypt supports the homeless and vulnerable people of Leeds by providing help, advice, food and shelter to those who need it the most. The charity makes a massive difference to hundreds of people each year, who would otherwise have nowhere to turn. We all know how bitterly cold and wet this time of year can be, and your £10 raffle ticket will help to give a little bit back this Christmas – providing hot meals, beds, clothing and hot showers to those less fortunate.

The Draw

The raffle will be drawn at 3pm on Friday 13th December, and prizes can be collected from our ‘grotto’ (yes – there’s a real one! It’s in our studio) in Leeds between 9 am Monday 16th and 12pm Friday 20th December 2019. Even if you don’t win, why not join us in the grotto for a mince pie or mulled wine in front of our (virtual) log fire? We’ll be playing non-stop festive tunes to get you into the Christmas spirit! Still don’t believe us? Check out this timelapse of how we transformed our regular meeting room into a grotto below:

Terms and conditions:

To enter our raffle, and be in with the chance of winning one of our amazing prizes, please donate £10 via Just Giving or PayPal and leave your full name and contact details. We’ll notify you of your raffle number by email or phone (as long as you leave your details), and also let you know if you’ve won any of the prizes above. We’ll make reasonable efforts to contact you if you’ve won a prize, but please note that all anonymous donations will be treat as direct donations to St George’s Crypt as opposed to raffle ticket purchases.

Purchase your raffle ticket:

Is Christmas advertising becoming a parody of itself?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

If you think back to life before 2010, do any memorable Christmas TV adverts come to mind? Chances are, the answer is no.

This isn’t surprising – cinematic Christmas ads were largely unheard of back then: we all relied on the Coca-Cola truck to assure us that the Holidays were coming, and Geoffrey the Giraffe always helped Santa deliver the presents from Toys’R’Us.

Nowadays, most retailers have done a complete 180 on their Christmas strategies. The focus is now on who can create the most lavish and memorable campaigns, while being able to create experiential tie-ins and, ultimately make the most money. In recent years, we’ve seen some of the most poignant examples of emotive advertising to suit any budget – with a few turkeys to boot.

We all know by now that Christmas is dominated by the big-name department stores and supermarkets – but this year is looking to break all the records, for all the wrong reasons. For starters, retailers are on track to spend over £6.4bn this on their Christmas campaigns alone – up nearly fifty per cent in eight years. They also seem to be going out of their ways to rip each other off (and for some of them, it’s really not working). How times change, right?

Maybe.

After recently seeing quite a damning article in The Guardian about the future of Christmas TV adverts, it got us thinking: have they got a point – has the Grinch truly stolen Christmas? I’m not sure, but this year’s lacklustre attempts can’t be helping.

Why are we obsessed with Christmas adverts?

There’s a high chance that our obsession with Christmas adverts stems heavily from nostalgia. After all, we all love nothing more than cuddling up on the sofa with the heating on, being spoon fed everything good about Christmas. A report from the Advertising Association found that nearly half of all Brits have been moved to tears by Christmas adverts they’ve seen – making it the perfect time of year for brands wanting to make meaningful connections with their potential customers

Our LITTLE stars (hint: we’re all about that #PlugLife)

The favourite across the office thus far this year has been Sainsbury’s. We are well and truly all about that #PlugLife – especially more so because it didn’t choose us.

The Big Night gave us the primary school play that dreams were made of – with all the glitz and glamour of the West End – without the kid that cried halfway through due to stage fright, and of course, with all the Christmas staples.

My favourite part about The Big Night is the fact that the audience in the advert is made up of the children’s real parents – not actors. Their joy is real – which is why I think the ad works so well for pulling on the heartstrings (even if some news outlets are indifferent). And naturally, we all really want to dress up as a giant plug and throw ourselves at a wall. It is definitely an improvement on last year’s efforts, which left a lot to be desired, or 2016’s morally-questionable #GreatestGift.

https://twitter.com/sainsburys/status/1062069193435242498

Naturally, next up is #EltonJohnLewis – who are now veterans of the Christmas campaign, and arguably the Emperor of the modern day Christmas ad. Featuring a celebrity who came with a £5 million price tag, this year’s advert did not appeal to my tastes, but it was still incredibly well done (even if to me, it just felt like a cheap way of reminding customers that his farewell tour was going on sale soon).

The ad itself is incredibly well put-together, and the little twist at the end is capable of thawing the coldest of hearts, but I still don’t quite understand why this year was the year John Lewis wanted to break their otherwise-successful marketing mould.  

A tired formula?

Even though we’re in the eleventh year of John Lewis adverts (not that anyone remembers the first few), they still spent four years honing their craft. After all, it wasn’t until 2011 when we entered the era of Frankie Goes to Hollywood songs, lonely penguins and trampolining boxers.

John Lewis have earnt themselves a reputation as being really good at the Christmas TV ad. Every year, they establish similar narratives, drawing their audiences in before sweeping the rug from under your feet with a twist and a (mostly positive) call to action. Since they’ve repeated it for this long, the John Lewis Christmas advert is now a staple of the season.

That was, until this year. The narrative has become so concrete in John Lewis’ Christmas advertising strategy that Chris Moyles was able to predict how it would begin, with an incredibly accurate parody that took Twitter by storm when released.

Even Lidl felt the need to jump on the bandwagon – a clever way of keeping the budget supermarket in-mind for the festive season. They made a point of proving to budget shoppers that their gifts didn’t have to be as ‘extravagent’ as what John Lewis expects, but can still be as meaningful.

The most bizarre parody of all, however, came from Waitrose & Partners. Their second Christmas ad of the season featured a family, who, instead of watching John Lewis’ efforts – fast forwarded through Elton singing in favour of eating a dark chocolate stollen wreath.  

Despite the positives mentioned above, for a partnership that came up trumps with their first joint campaign as “John Lewis & Partners”, this combination of ads feel like they’ve missed the mark somewhat. This is probably down to the fact that planning to rip your partner brand a new one in a Christmas ad understandably seems a bit… odd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbVvPL_pNg

Similarly, Marks & Spencers seem to have regressed massively this year. After a run of two successful Christmas campaigns (featuring Mrs Claus and Paddington Bear in 2016 and 17, respectively), they’ve gone back to their roots.

Poor M&S have not had a good year. Not only have they been failing massively on the high street (as a result of years of refusing to adapt to the times), they have no young consumer base. If they had continued with their well-thought-out cinematic efforts, perhaps their pain could have been eased a little.

Instead, they’ve recruited Holly Willoughby as a brand ambassador and assumed that she would solve all their problems – except she hasn’t (yet). Maybe their consumers are a bit past “tried-and-tested” and didn’t want to see Holly scrambling under a Christmas tree to (unsurprisingly) discover a hidden world.

Retailers this year seem to be obsessed with, effectively, ripping each other off.

When the first ad of the season (#SaveKevin, from Aldi) debuted, we saw Aldi’s celebrity Carrot driving a truck that was very similar to the one driven by Father Christmas in the Coca-Cola advert (he was even singing ‘Carrot is coming’ – talk about a soundalike), before running into difficulty and nearly committing mass-murder of his kin.

Despite this, Aldi’s first effort of the season was met with a positive reception on social media – which has continued ever since. Instead of riding on the coattails of other retailers’ successes, Aldi have been very good at looking at what their audience are talking about and then tailoring their wider strategies accordingly. Since #SaveKevin started generating traction on Twitter, Kevin has been all about that #PlugLife – he’s also been upstaged by another celebrity Carrot. Well done, Aldi (or should that be: well done, Kevin?).

https://twitter.com/AldiUK/status/1062713261966077952

Unfortunately for Aldi, the country seems to have gone Carrot-mad, with customers inciting violence over other marketing ploys (AKA Kevin and co stuffed toys). While these results are less-than-ideal, customers are still talking – even if it is about the wrong things.

Now look, you’ve ruined Christmas

I doubt that – the retailers didn’t need my help.

Ultimately, the Christmas ad (this year at least) has become little more than a stale cracker – leaving a bad taste in the mouth for customers. This leaves the industry wide open to parody and ridicule from within. The first few times might be funny – but then lacks originality and probably isn’t received as intended, either. Maybe next year will be better.

Almost takes the magic out of Christmas, doesn’t it?