Christmas Ad Review 2015 Part 2: Christmas with a Vengeance

Just when you thought you’d watched every Christmas ad you could take, a whole load more arrive. So we thought we’d better review them…

Our first Christmas ad review ran a couple of weeks ago, and featured big hitters from John Lewis and Sainsburys. Since it appeared, a whole raft of new ads have dropped, so here we are again, to assess who are the winners and losers of the marketing wars this Christmas. For this list, we have also opened up the field to ads from outside the UK.

First up, then, is a curious little film for German supermarket chain Edeka. There is a trend emerging in this year’s Christmas ads of a focus on the elderly and the potential for the festive season to be a lonely time, but this ad takes this notion to its bleakest conclusion when a grandfather decides to fake his own death to get his family together (yes, really). While it’s been hailed as the ultimate tearjerker, I found myself getting too hung up on the plausibility of it (would no one talk to each other, or his doctor, before coming to the funeral?) to really get drawn in. But 30 million views don’t lie and the spot has almost surpassed John Lewis as a talking point, which is not to be sniffed at. Agency: Jung von Matt; 8/10 (if you’re prepared to forget how illogical the plot is)

Co-up next, which turns out to be yet another brand raising the issue of concern for the elderly at Christmas. This is of course an important and worthy point to make though this spot suffers a little from following the epic films from John Lewis and Edeka, and by being a fairly straightforward tale of community spirit. The lead performances are great though, and lift it above much of the pack. Agency: Leo Burnett; 7/10

Canal+ serve up a witty warning to those who might be thinking of going for an eccentric gift this Christmas. It’s amusingly done though not quite up there with Canal+’s greatest hits. Agency: BETC Paris; 7/10

Vodafone has gone down a comedic route too, focusing on a family who grow too close to their pet turkey to serve it up for Christmas dinner. While not massively original, it’s not a bad effort. The end voiceover is very cheesy though, and I’m marking it down for putting Flying Without Wings in my head, however appropriate the song might be. Agency: Grey, 6/10

Sky’s Christmas ad is a flashy, expensive number but charming with it, as a little girl finds herself travelling through various movies as she tries to rid herself of the curse of Christmas: brussels sprouts. Agency: WCRS; 7/10

A sprout is at the centre of BBC One’s Christmas campaign too, which also features animated versions of Beeb stars including Doctor Who, Mary Berry and It’s all very BBC One: polished and with great production values but just a teensy bit bland. Agency: RKCR/Y&R; 6/10

House of Fraser’s ad continues the brand’s attempts to reinvent itself for a younger audience. This definitely feels like it’s targeted at the yoof, set to a contemporary, upbeat version of 1960s classic You Don’t Own Me. It’s a weird spot though – at times going for an upmarket, Harvey Nicks vibe, at times channeling M&S. By the end I just feel quite confused – what is House of Fraser trying to be? Agency: 18 Feet & Rising; 4/10

Australian brand Myer has worked with Aardman Animation to create this charming spot which features a worried Christmas elf and a band of runaway Christmas decorations who sneak off the tree to go shopping. It’s all very appealing and the angel in particular raises a chuckle. Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne; 7/10

I didn’t ever expect to be moved by a Spanish lottery ad, but here we are: this delightful little short film is compelling, sweet and beautifully made. Three-and-a-half minutes is a lot of viewing time to ask of viewers for an ad but when the work is this sweet, they’ll do it, and they’ll share it too. Agency: Leo Burnett Iberia; 9/10

And while we’re on emotional animated ads for European brands, here’s another, this time for German online store Otto. The sentiment here is strong, but as we know, that’s what many of us want at Christmastime. Agency: Heimat; 8/10

The sentiment is pouring out of this spot for Costa Rican brand Gollo too, but something about its art direction is curiously compelling. Agency: McCann Costa Rica; 6/10

This is definitely the longest ad on the list year, as Lagavulin whisky gives us almost 45 minutes of Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman sitting by a yule log fire drinking a single malt. I doubt you will watch the whole thing, but I bet you watch more than you thought you would. Peaceful times. 8/10

If you can’t beat them, spoof them: this is Aldi’s approach with this jokey version of the John Lewis ad, nicely directed by Mark Denton. It’s garnered a lot of press coverage in the UK, and nicely mirrors Aldi’s positioning of tweaking the nose of its rivals, though for maximum impact I wish it had arrived more quickly than two weeks after the original broke. If viewers can spoof ads the same day they break, the ad industry needs to respond in kind, even if it means sacrificing production values. Agency: McCann Manchester; 6/10

I’m sorry to do this to you, but I’m afraid we end this second round-up with a Christmas spot from Pornhub, which proposes that its giftcard (ick!) is the perfect gift for grandpa this Christmas (ick! ick!). I kind of admire the brand’s balls, no pun intended, but am removing points for the yuck factor and also dread to think what the NSFW version looks like. Bleurgh. Merry Christmas everyone. 3/10

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