Old friends meet new and ‘post-pandemic’ parties as brands battle for Christmas top spot
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December is here and with it the traditional Christmas battle. No, we’re not talking about the end-of-year Downing Street Team Twister Championships, we’re talking about the festive fight to be placed at the top of the Christmas advert tree.
There was a time when the nation’s focus at this time of year was on who would be crowned Christmas number one. These days, though, it’s a battle brands rather than a battle of the bands that really gets the juices going.
So, let’s look at the best Christmas adverts this year.
While John Lewis goes for the emotional angle, Aldi tends to lean more to the light-hearted side of the spectrum. Aldi’s extremely popular character Kevin the Carrot, who has become the supermarket chain’s go-to festive mascot, returns this year along with a number of new characters telling the story of the Christmas Carol.
From Ebanana Scrooge to Marcus Radishford, everyone comes together to spread the message of kindness in this advert run in partnership with children’s charity Barnado’s. There’s also time for a little nod and a wink at Aldi’s rivalry with M&S over their respective caterpillar cakes – a story you can learn more about here.
John Lewis have carved out a bit of a niche over the years for creating Christmas adverts that pull on the heart strings, and this year is no different. ‘Unexpected Guest’ stars a young alien called Skye being taught the magic of Christmas by a child after his ship crashes on Earth.
The ad is accompanied by a melodic piano cover of Phil Oakey’s ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ by Lola Young. Cute characters, heart-warming message, soulful cover of a classic hit – John Lewis might have a formula that they stick to the point of potential limitation but it’s hard to argue it doesn’t work. And not one mention of Covid.
While many have chosen to hint at Covid’s presence rather than involve it in their campaigns, Tesco’s Christmas advert resulted in a number of complaints, mainly due to Father Christmas presenting a Covid vaccine passport at one point in the ad. Featuring a determined granny getting all her jobs done before Christmas, accompanied by Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. While you can argue the importance of complaints from the public, it is interesting that Tesco were one of the only retail brands in the UK to address the vaccine rollout.
There is a tendency to go for nostalgia when it comes to Christmas adverts for brands, but Lidl has gone to another way with their 2021 offering. This year’s festive film provides a potential look at the future of Christmas or at least the creative team behind the campaign’s idea of what the future of Christmas could be.
Set to the soundtrack of ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’, the advert starts with a traditional scene before cutting to show the same scene – this time it’s set in the future, with laser knives, talking dogs, floating plates and no pandemic.
Marks and Spencer
Never ones to sit quietly in the corner, Marks and Spencer have released two Christmas adverts this year. While one gives the full M&S treatment to the supermarket chain’s very tempting food selection, the other shows off the clothing and gifting departments.
Dawn French and Tom Holland feature in the first advert, along with Percy the Pig – yes, the sweet. The second ad tells the story of a woman enjoying herself in a winter wonderland to the tune of Marshmallow World by Darlene Love.
Who takes the number-one spot?
With Covid now set to be a part of a second Christmas, it’s been interesting to see which brands have acknowledged the pandemic and those that have focused on making this year extra special. The clear theme for Christmas this year, at least in terms of Christmas adverts for the UK’s supermarket chains, is about making this year extra special.
What has become evident over the years, and especially this holiday season, is that these supermarket chains have a formula when it comes to Christmas adverts. While John Lewis might go for the somewhat obvious emotional angle, they do it so well that it’s hard to look past them for top spot this year. Congratulations to John Lewis!