From clumsy dragons to evil sprouts, here’s our review of the festive adverts from some of the UK’s biggest retailers.
M&S Food: This Is Not Just Food… This Is M&S Christmas Food
The premise of this entire advert hinges on presenters Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis, who swan around a Christmas market for 1.30 minutes as they stuff their faces with M&S food. And I’m afraid it just doesn’t cut the mustard.
In true M&S fashion, the sequence is interspersed with close-ups of food, but the lack of creativity here has let the advert down. Chucking a couple of celebrities and some snow into the mix isn’t enough — we want heart-wrenching storylines, or at least something a bit different.
Sorry M&S, but we’ve given this advert just one Christmas pudding out of five.
Iceland: Magic of Frozen
The frozen food retailer has been less controversial this year. It has teamed up with the second installment of the snow-filled Disney sensation that is Frozen, which means that, at the very least, it has something of a Christmas feel to it.
While we can’t yet say how Frozen 2 (out in cinemas on 22 November, kids) will compare to its predecessor, riding on the back of the success of the highest-grossing animated film of all time is a good move on Iceland’s part.
What drags the advert down are the switches between animated characters and real actors, which diminishes some of the magic — but ultimately you would have to be a massive scrooge not to love Olaf the snowman.
John Lewis and Waitrose: Excitable Edgar
As per usual, there was a sack-load of commotion around the John Lewis advert. Edgar the dragon keeps burning bridges when he accidentally lets off the odd flame-thrower, and almost kills a few children in the process (one of the downsides of being a dragon, I guess).
In the retailer’s first ever joint Christmas campaign with Waitrose, the group has endeavoured to get Edgar to win our hearts. Yeah okay, the animation is cute, and perhaps it’s not Edgar’s fault that he’s such a clutz.
But it all goes up in smoke at the end when the townspeople cheer in apparent forgiveness as Edgar lights up a Christmas pudding — come on, hardly anyone would really be pleased about the prospect of a Christmas pudding, would they? Also, he’s clearly still a fire hazard, which is a reminder that fire-breathing pets aren’t just for Christmas.
Sainsbury’s Christmas advert: Nicholas the Sweep
Sainsbury’s has managed to fit a Dickensian storyline into a 2.32-minute advert — and it packs a punch. Set 150 years ago (a reminder that Mr and Mrs Sainsbury opened their first shop in Drury Lane in 1869), the creators have clearly put a lot of effort into the Victorian-era set and costumes.
What lets it down is that they have tried to cram too much into the story — Nicholas the chimney sweep is essentially Oliver Twist with superpowers, who is banished to the mountains when three ghostly apparitions appear. And that’s all before the twist at the end.
Still, Sainsbury’s gets a very respectable 3.5 Christmas puddings out of five.
Argos: The Book of Dreams
Retailers would do well to take a leaf out of Argos’ book (of dreams). A man notices that his young daughter has circled a drum set in the catalogue, and he starts reminiscing about having his own.
By the end of the advert, the father-daughter duo are on stage in front of a crowd of fans drumming to the sound of Simple Mind’s Don’t You‚ (Forget About Me).
You might forget about the advert by this time next year, but the premise is simple — feel-good music and a family-orientated theme is the kind of content we want at Christmas time.
Ikea Christmas advert: Silence the Critics
Ikea, you have done the impossible. You have made a Christmas advert that is down with the kids, and which steers completely clear of the tired old tropes that we see over and over again at this time of year. Not a jingle bell in sight. Instead, we have got Grime. Yep, that’s right, Ikea has teamed up with the godfather of Grime music D Double E as part of the flat-pack furniture company’s first Christmas advert. And weirdly, it works.
The lyrics themselves are hilarious, so that’s a good start. But it’s all made funnier with the ornaments being totally disparaging of the house they are in, saying stuff like “this place is a mess, you don’t deserve no guests”.
Admittedly, it has a bit of a tenuous link to Christmas. But who cares? With a little imagination, you can spice up your home and create a Christmas advert that nails it.
Aldi Christmas advert: Christmas Spectacular
Roll up roll up for the Aldi advert, which is the winning campaign in our eyes.
It starts with the bad guy Russell Sprout, who is doing a bit of a Peaky Blinders act on Kevin the Carrot. With help from Tiny Tom (the tomato), Kevin escapes and gets to the circus in time to give a festive rendition of Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You.
Surrounded by his carrot family and loads of other fresh produce, he manages to get his own back on the sprout clan. The advert is utterly random, but the music, the silly storyline, and the puns make this fun for adults and kids alike.
Who’s up for watching a full-length feature film about Kevin the Carrot, then?