When does the Christmas season truly begin? For some, it will not be mentioned until December. For others like me, it begins when the Christmas ads come out – more specifically, the day that John Lewis share their latest festive creative offerings.
This year (excuse me whilst I use every cliché available) is like never before. Now, more than ever, brands need to tread carefully – particularly as this Christmas is likely to be a little different. In these unprecedented times (I did warn you), brands need to decide whether to go down the escapism route or tell it how it is. Either way, I think this year it won’t be too tricky to get audiences to shed a tear.
As a self-declared Christmas ad connoisseur, here’s my take on 2020 Christmas ads…
Whilst it may feel like everything has changed this year, at least Kevin the Carrot is back to save the day. This time with a funny little hedgehog sidekick.
After all the emotion from John Lewis and Disney, Aldi gives us some much needed respite with another epic adventure for the nation’s favourite carrot. Believe it or not, Kevin first graced our screens back in 2016 and I’m really glad that Aldi has kept him on for another year. As I’ve said before – brands have a tricky choice this year. Do they go for complete escapism or do they acknowledge the pandemic shaped elephant in the room? Well, I think Aldi has struck the perfect balance. The adventure and magic are intertwined with nods to the NHS. Something that feels appropriate and respectful.
We all have our own opinions on Amazon, and for me, it feels little iffy that one of the largest companies in the world (which has literally made billions during the pandemic) is trying to cash in the community narrative.
The story line is heart-warming and relatable. Whilst we may not all be ballet dancers, we have all felt losses this year. Whether that’s a ballet performance, a holiday, or even people we love. We’ve also all felt the power of community. With neighbours who never normally speak coming together to help one another. In that sense, Amazon does capture something very special. It’s just a shame that all I can think is “Fatima’s next job could be in tech…”
Do you remember a few years ago when it felt like every brand did a school-play based ad? Well, Argos has sort of done that again. There is a fun, magical element to the ad that I do enjoy, and I’m very into the sisters’ magician outfits and the appearance of a dachshund. But is that enough to make me love the advert? Unfortunately not.
The other thing that didn’t really make sense was the catalogue. Back in July, Argos announced that the printed catalogue would be no more – yet here we are. It seems like although cutting the catalogue IRL, Argos still want to make use of our memories of pouring over the catalogues as children, circling what we wanted to add to our Christmas lists.
Honestly, I don’t quite know where to start. I get the intention and the sentiment, but it doesn’t really land. Asda’s character Sunny (yep, not a real-life superfan) makes me cringe as he says “but we can still party” and let’s be honest, a bright green brussel sprout cake wearing a Santa hat is not the most appealing food in the world.
What also sticks out to me is the disconnect between the voice over and what we’re seeing on screen. ‘Sunny’ says “as Christmas is gonna be different this year” but the only non-standard-year thing we see is two delivery drivers wearing face masks. Aside from that, what else is there?
I don’t think my reaction was what the marketing team had hoped for…I laughed.
Maybe if Kevin the Carrot was on this adventure I’d warm to it more but it just felt a bit ridiculous. Where did he get a paddleboard from? Where did he get a motorbike from? If he’s really doing this on foot, Christmas would be long gone by the time he got home. To end with the cliché of all clichés, the daughter has just asked Santa to bring home her dad. Not for me.
Do Disney even normally do Christmas ads?! I’ll be honest, this one threw me a bit because it’s not on my usual list. But I really wish it was.
It’s no surprise that one of the biggest companies in the world, famed for their characters and films, has produced an advert that hits all the right spots. The narrative is heart-warming, the music is beautiful, the animation is impeccable, and the hidden easter eggs (keep an eye out for Frozen) are classic Disney. I challenge you not to cry.
I’m almost crying just thinking about these ads. This year, the online marketplace has offered up three (!!!) adverts. Each follows a narrative that links beautifully to one of the Etsy’s core USPs – personalisation. Grandparents receive a unique gift whilst Facetiming their grandson. Shiori can’t find anything with her name on (I feel ya, Shiori) until her Mum gets her a personalised necklace. A man attends a Christmas party with his boyfriend’s family and is unsure how welcome he will be until he receives a customised gift. If I hadn’t just put mascara on, I would be bawling my eyes out.
Etsy has told three wonderful, relatable stories that bring out emotion in audiences. They’ve kept it simple. They’ve acknowledged the difference of 2020. They’ve made it human-centred.
Back in the day, I loved a John Lewis ad. My family would try to be the first to send a link to the latest ad in our group chat – that’s how much we love it. But the past few years have slightly felt like a “what character can we flog cuddly versions of”.
This year, however, John Lewis have found their way back to what made their original ads so utterly enchanting and captivating. They’re creative, they’re whimsical, they capture the beauty and joy of the festive season. Through all the little stories and wonderful animations runs one simple message – share the love. A message that I think we can all agree is one we need to listen to this year.
There’s um, a goat in a beret. I LOVE IT.
Honestly, I have no idea what went through the minds of the TK Maxx marketing team but I’m very much here for it. It is completely bonkers and worlds away from their usual Christmas ad style of #fashion. Amongst the long, emotional ads we’ve seen from other brands, TK Maxx gives us permission to laugh and smile. It gives a little nod to the difficulty of the year but it matches it with something that you can’t not smile at – a goat strutting through a farm in a designer outfit.
As the farmer states, “she’s had such a hard year…she bloomin’ well deserves it”. I think we can all agree that the goat definitely does deserve it.