The ‘C’ Word

Well it’s that time of year again… the time for the beloved, or some may say, dreaded Christmas TV adverts to invade our screens.

With the recent debate surrounding advertising at Christmas and what is or isn’t ethically or politically correct to have as a yuletide message, it got us thinking, what does make a good Christmas advert? And what are the key elements to keeping the balance between tugging on the heart, as well as the purse strings? Is it the strength of the message, its ability to stir up our emotions or the use of nostalgia? Does animation trump real life characters? Fact over fiction?

Image: John Lewis and Partners Christmas adverts of the past, from The Man on the Moon, to Moz the Monster

With department stores now equally as influential in determining the years Christmas number one song as they are on our spending habits, the cultural impact these mini features have on us is becoming far reaching. So perhaps an advert with a strong ethical or sometimes philosophical message is a far more powerful use of the medium, and at possibly a far more important time than any other of the year.

Iceland’s Banned TV Christmas Advert… Say hello to Rang-tan

It could be suggested that it has just become an opportunity for a brand to place their flag in the ground of its beliefs or to more simply spread a good ole’ fashioned message at Christmas, the 21st century version of a Christmas carol.

Undoubtedly the rise of this phenomenon began with the annual event now known as the John Lewis and Partners Christmas advert and often accompanied by the phrase “nice but wasn’t as good as last years”. As the bar continues to rise year on year, as does our demand for an even more poignant message or a stronger character based story.

But with the ‘Holidays are coming’ Coca-Cola advert for many marking the start of Christmas and 2018 being the first year in many where we won’t hear the

‘There’s millions says Geoffrey all under one roof – it’s called Toys ‘R’ Us, Toys ‘R’ Us, Toys R Us!’

perhaps those that create the nostalgia effect will forever be the winners.

Video: Coca-Cola

Whatever the answer may be, from Coca-Cola through to John Lewis, the Christmas advert has become a new tradition of the festive period, both dividing opinion and bringing people together. Whether in the spirit of shared celebration or enthusiastic debate is still up for discussion!

Merry Christmas from