Paul Alexander
Paul Alexander
Group Creative Director

All I want for Christmas is… Asda or Lidl

So, the John Lewis Christmas commercial has been revealed with all the usual pomp and ceremony. After our very own Kate Lindley’s expert low down on this year’s festive offerings from the large retail brands, here’s my own Ebenezer Scrooge’s view!

If you aren’t aware of the new John Lewis Christmas commercial you must have been away on another planet! We see an old man, for some reason on the moon, on his own, outside his shed. Quite why he’s there, no one is sure.

Yes, it’s the last in a line of the hugely hyped, emotional Christmas tearjerkers from John Lewis – a style of advertising that has come to be known as SADvertising. The aim being to make viewers cry a little, a gentle tug on the heartstrings to make them recount a similar moment it their own lives or think about people less fortunate than themselves. In the case of this commercial, it’s the latter.

The campaign aims to raise money for Age UK, which is great but how effective will it be for Age UK? We will have to wait and see. Don’t get me wrong, the craft is amazing, the story telling is amazing, but there is just something missing – it’s lacking in a real connection. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it feels too forced. The previous Christmas ads from John Lewis, ‘Bear’ and ‘Penguin’ really were brilliant, (I don’t think there were any others that came close to these before) a million miles better than this year’s ad. They were great examples of amazing craft and brilliant advertising at its best, combined with depth of emotion and fun that worked much broader than Man in the Moon does.

Ba Humbug…

And while I’m on this Christmassy subject, when was it decided that the start of Christmas is when John Lewis reveal their Christmas TV commercial? It’s bad enough when the retailers start stocking mince pies in October! The start of Christmas is the first window in your advent calendar, not a multi-million pound retailer telling you – they don’t own Christmas (yet) rant over, sorry.

Now it may seem that I’m a bit of a Grinch, but I’m not. I love Christmas…and also hate it. And that’s really how most people feel about Christmas. From the over spending, over eating and over drinking to the debt, the family bickering, the divorce, (statistically, Christmas is the time of year where most couples split and marriages end) all through smiles and a great positive attitude.

My point to all this is the power of normal. How Christmas is for most real people – full of good and bad bits. We want this now. We don’t want unachievable, perfect shiny worlds that we can’t ever have. We don’t want to feel like we have reconnected with some emotional side of our existence by shedding a tear for an old man sat on his own, on the moon. We will all hopefully invite the old relations round, or go and visit them…and probably moan about doing so in the process. That’s real Christmas.

We don’t want to be better people; we just want to have a great British Christmas. So for these reasons my 2 choices for this year’s best Christmas commercials are ASDA and Lidl.

They have both realised we just want honesty, there is no complex storytelling, no pulling of heart strings, they are simply depicting the Christmas that we all know and love and know we are going to experience. And, even better, it’s no longer about just being cheap for these brands, but about really understanding their consumers and the kind of Christmas they’ll be having that, for me, make these commercials so nice and will make them work.

So Merry, (bickering, overspending, debt creating, divorce making, over eating, over drinking, laughing, crying, farting) Christmas to you, and I’ll leave you with this John Lewis parody, which I think is better than the original.

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