Now, before I get started, I have to admit I admire any advert this Christmas for one very obvious reason (the dreaded ‘C-word’). Because, much like all creative work that’s been produced since March, responding to a Christmas ad brief must have been an incredibly difficult balancing act of ‘should we say it, should we not? …We’ll reference it, but not too much.’ And now as the country comes to the end of a second lockdown and awaits a new set of rules, Christmas 2020 has become altogether something very different.
Advertisers have had to read the mood of the nation more than ever before. Do you go full on Christmas with all the trimmings knowing that for many this will only highlight the fact that things are far from normal? Or do you rein things in, despite the fact that for many Christmas is a beacon of hope as we near the end of what can only be described as a pretty ‘sh@tty’ year?
With these Christmas conundrums in mind, here’s a rundown of the latest festive ads that I hope will delight, no matter your level of yuletide cheer this year.
Amazon – The show must go on
I guess this is what I mean by the Christmas, but not so Christmas advert. The TV campaign follows a young, talented ballet dancer as she prepares for the role of a lifetime. However, this being 2020, that role of a lifetime is snatched away once the pandemic hits. But, as indicated by the orchestral arrangement of Queen and a very loving sister, ‘The Show Must Go On’. This advert led me onto a bit of a Queen music marathon so for me, I can’t say a bad word about it. Truly beautiful and a wonderful advert that’s a shining example of the power of a ‘brand-building campaign’.
Boots – Help Fight Hygiene Poverty
Another advert that goes above and beyond traditional Christmas messages, to one that speaks more broadly to the festive tradition of giving. Created with a wonderfully simplistic animation style to the backing of a rather dreamy version of ‘What the World Needs Now’ by Rachel Chinouriri, it drives home a powerful message about hygiene poverty. It’s a stark reminder that now, more than ever, so many people need the essentials over anything else.
Aldi – Kevin
Oh, Kevin you little beauty. He’s back for another Christmas outing and once again he doesn’t disappoint. Using Top Gun as its not-so-subtle influence, ‘Peel the Need’ sees Kevin team-up with who else but a turkey (not a Goose). After a spotting of Santa and an ill-advised ejection, Kev is left dangling because, after all, who doesn’t love a Christmas cliffhanger?
And then came the sequel…
With plenty of lovely touches, from its Home Alone and Pirates of the Caribbean film score soundtrack to the introduction of a very charming hedgehog companion, and the main man himself, Santa Claus, returning Kevin to his carrot family. A proper Christmas heart-warmer that will add a bit of feel-good to commercial breaks over advent.
TKMaxx – The lil’ goat
This Kid’s got style and attitude, and I want her!!! There I said it, I’m a sucker for this little cutey. If this advert doesn’t bring a smile to your face then you belong to stay in 2020 (I joke of course). But this advert is exactly what I wanted and needed. It’s that little bit of joy like finding one more present under the Christmas tree when everyone else has opened all of theirs. From the backing track to the sharp cut to the couple looking longingly out of the window, and of course the man beginning to choke up, this truly has it all. A 30-second advert that I could watch over, and over, and over again.
Argos – The book of dreams
From the moment those little girls circled the Argos catalogue I knew we were in for a good time. This humorous whirlwind pair’s performance has so much joy about it, as presents magically appear, sausage dogs become stretched and then sawn in half, and the living room transformed into a grand theatre (handy for social distancing). It’s got Christmas written all over it and for that, it’s a standing ovation for AbracaDaisy & The Incredible Lucy.
John Lewis & Partners – Give a little love
Last but by no means least, was this beauty. Like I said at the start it was always going to be a challenge for any agency this year. But for John Lewis and adam&eveDDB it almost feels like this was always going to be that little bit harder. The ads have become a Christmas highlight for so many years now, that it’s become a mini event in itself. And once again they’ve delivered, with this winter warmer that tells us to “give a little love” this year.
The storyline illustrates how acts of kindness, big or small, can have such a positive impact on the world. And instead of a single production team, multiple artists were chosen in this unique approach. It was this act of kindness towards the creative industries that gives this ad that bit more love from me this year.
So that concludes my Christmas ad run down and hopefully it’s got something for everyone. Like I said at the start, it was always going to be hard this year for brands and their ad agencies to strike the right balance, but you know what, I think they’ve nailed it. We’ve been introduced to the joy of Christmas in so many delightful and creative ways.
It just falls to me to say Merry Christmas and no matter what your Christmas might look like this year, stay safe and stay positive.