A warning; if you watch all of these ads, it will take up several minutes of your life. Still want to see them? Okay, whatever you’re into.
I hate Christmas ads. I didn’t always. My whole family likes the Denny ad with the little girl who gets a bike and says, “he’s a wery good Santy’. We actually say, “he’s a wery good Santy” when we open presents. The ad has been around for years. The little girl is Irish, she dresses in pink pyjamas, she gets a bike for Christmas. When I first saw it I could totally relate to her. Christmas ads lived on pretty innocuously to me, until I saw the 2014 Sainsbury’s Christmas advert, 1914.
You might watch the 2014 Sainsbury’s Christmas advert and approach it like this: It’s truly a masterpiece, with visually stunning cinematography that will bring a tear to any eye, breathtakingly encapturing the fear amongst troops, as they advance towards each other, nervously checking for snipers, the symbolism of the robin on a wire, the running theme of love and unity, triggering tears with the backdrop of a piano.
But using a representation of the war as a means to what? What were they thinking?
“Will we create this ad, that showcases this mythical day in 1914, where two countries put aside their ties to their nations and patriotism, and will we create a beautiful, stunning representation of this perfect moment of love and unity and togetherness, and put it all under the banner of Christmas Is For Sharing?”
“Sure! It sounds beautiful! Why? To promote love and unity and togetherness and shows that love trumps hatred and that the idea of nation is only beneficial to corporate entities, military and industrial complexes?”
“No? To get people down to Sainsbury’s to do their Christmas shopping.”
I cried at how beautiful it was and at the feels it made me feel, but I cried harder at how cruel it was, not just the events of the day, but at how Sainsbury’s had twisted and bastardised them, just for corporate gain. It’s obscene, isn’t it? It’s like porn. Beautiful, moving and potentially Oscar-nominated porn. If ads and porn had Oscars.
None of the 2016 Christmas ads are like this. But I cannot watch Christmas adverts through a romanticised filter anymore after the Sainsburys advert of 2014. I can watch and feel the same feels you feel, and appreciate the theme of love running through it all but the main emotion I feel is anger. When you watch and cry over the love you feel for Buster The Boxer in the John Lewis ad or whatever, remember how your feelings of love are being commodified by John Lewis. Even when I watched the M&S Christmas ad, which might be the greatest Christmas ad I’ve ever seen, it annoyed me how much I loved it. Because not only can you buy Mrs Claus’ dress, jumper and coat, and the red sparkly runners she delivers to a child, you can also download the M&S Christmas ad track on iTunes.
But this is advertising, I hear you say. This is what it does. Well, it seems worse at Christmas to see brands exploit near mythical events for commercial gain. And so beautifully. Bah humbug. Let’s get into it then.
If you’re passionate about Christmas ads, you already know about this. This is the second John Lewis Christmas advert I’ve seen. It tells the story of the dog and his six-year-old friend Bridget who gets a gift she’s always wanted for Christmas. I didn’t cry, but it is lovely.
MARKS AND SPENCER
This is unquestionably the greatest Christmas advert I’ve ever been forced to watch. Seriously, the IMAGE.ie team sat around me, with a laptop in front of me, and watched me for a reaction. Marks & Spencers have been applauded for giving Mrs Claus the feminist remake she deserves. She’s not at home, drinking eggnog, waiting for no Santa to return. Mrs Claus sleighs (is that terrible?) as a sort of James Bond, flying around in a helicopter, saving the day, all while wearing some very chic red outfits.
Boots are celebrating the women who dedicate their Christmas day to helping others. Every year in Ireland, around 175,600 women sacrifice their Christmas Day to support others in their communities. But this year Boots Ireland set out on a mission to give some of these inspirational women an early Christmas gift.
The ad features nine brilliant Irish women from hotel staffs, nurses, midwives, and carers, who were invited to take part in a day of pampering with Boots beauty specialists. Find out more about the ad here.
I’m not sure why this one is so great. A carrot goes through a variety of near death experiences.
I have a confession. I watched the Lidl ad on mute because I heard that it’s about a lonely grandad and couldn’t handle a potentially sad backing track to my tears. It was lovely but I didn’t cry because I remembered that Lidl is commodifying love.
In fairness, everything Burberry creates is visually stunning. Domhnall Gleeson stars in this miniature film of the tale of Burberry founder Thomas Burberry, which reimagines key events that have shaped the company’s history and values. A star-studded cast feature alongside Gleeson: Sienna Miller plays his wife, Dominic West appears as Ernest Shackleton, the polar explorer who wore Burberry for three expeditions, and Lily James plays a fictional pilot based on Betty Kirby-Green, who flew from England to Cape Town in 1937 dressed in Burberry.
This clip reportedly cost around $10 million to make and is the first of several the brand will be rolling out in the run up to Christmas. Find out more about the ad here.