Nothing sets the tone for the festive season quite like John Lewis’ Christmas advert. But viewers expecting this year’s ad to be another weepy have been disappointed. Instead, #BusterTheBoxer relies more on humour to put its message across.
Not everyone is pleased about the change of direction. Amy Wilson spoke for many on Twitter when she tweeted: “That John Lewis Christmas advert sums up this year really – a let down!!”
Others though welcomed the new approach, with industry insiders particularly impressed. Peter Markey, brand communications and marketing director at Aviva, called it “a masterstroke”. “I think John Lewis changing gear is exactly the right approach to keep everything fresh,” he said. “It will be another campaign hard to beat this festive season.”
John Lewis faces stiffer competition than ever this year if it is to remain at the top of the tree. It is estimated that UK companies will spend over £5.6 billion on their Christmas adverts as they fight it out for the best campaign.
What’s interesting as a video production company is to see the approaches taken by advertisers. They all look to engage viewers’ emotions in a different way in a bid to put their message across. We look at six of them.
John Lewis – #BusterTheBoxer
As we pointed out in our blog, How To Tell The Story Of Your Business Through Video, John Lewis’s Christmas video is the bedrock of their annual marketing campaign.
In this year’s advert, we see Buster the boxer and a bunch of garden animals jumping around on a little girl’s new trampoline.
What’s interesting about this year’s ad is that it does contain emotion but it’s not the ‘sadvertising’ for which they have become famous. Instead, the advert makes us feel good.
This is a clever move by John Lewis at the end of what for many has been a dismal year. And, importantly, the advert is completely on message. The tag line at the end of the ad is, “Gifts that everyone will love”. The fact that “everyone” in this instance happens to be an adorable dog and some fluffy animals is what gives the ad its charm and laugh out loud quality.
Marks & Spencer – Christmas with love from Mrs Claus
This is a classily produced advert that in some people’s eyes has stolen the crown from John Lewis. “Best one this year!” gushed Kimberley on Twitter, a view shared by many.
The advert features a stylish middle-aged Mrs Claus setting out in a helicopter to save a little boy’s Christmas by delivering a present for his older sister. In it we see Mrs Claus packing off a wrinkly Santa with sandwiches and hot tea onto his old sleigh before flying off on her secret high-tech mission.
The advert brilliantly balances sentimentality and humour. The sentimentality comes from showing a classic family dynamic: the not always obvious bond between an annoying little brother and a long-suffering older sister.
The humour comes from the wink to the fact that it’s the mother in a family, in this case Mrs Santa, who really gets everything done but rarely takes the limelight.
Tesco – Bring It On
It’s hard to warm to this Tesco advert, which takes places in one of their supermarkets. The premise is that Christmas is a bit of a hassle, as voiced by Ruth Jones in an ‘everywoman’ role as she wanders aimlessly round the shop.
The pay off is that Christmas isn’t a hassle after all so ‘Bring It On’. It lacks any magic and leaves you thinking, “Yes, Tesco you are right, it really is hard work, I think I’ll go elsewhere this year.”
Burberry – The Tale of Thomas Burberry
Christmas adverts aren’t just for shops. This is hands down the most beautiful of the bunch, as it should be having cost an eye-watering £10m.
The three-and-a-half minute production was directed by Oscar winner Asif Kapadia and stars Dominic West and Sienna Miller in what looks like a trailer for a lavish Hollywood period movie.
The message is simple. Burberry represents quality and delivers it in spades. This is aspirational advertising, stunningly delivered.
This is an unlikely contender for top Christmas advert but it scores on a number of levels.
The advert tells the story of two tatty old bears flying home for Christmas. The unlikely backing track is I’m Coming Back by the never-less-than-unfashionable Chas and Dave.
We follow the bears as they carefully navigate their journey before arriving at the terminal. There they are met by two excited young children before morphing from bears into grandma and grandpa.
It’s a touching ‘journey’ story with an old-fashioned quality. And while it doesn’t quite have you grabbing for the Kleenex like some of the old John Lewis ads, it is heart-warming. It’s bang on message too, closing with “Coming Home Is The Best Gift of All” across the screen.
Lidl – Lidl Surprises: Christmas Turkey Advert
Lidl has made its name as a no-nonsense supermarket whose challenge is to break down perceptions. In this advert we see a customer worried about turkeys being reared in “prisons” visiting one of Lidl’s turkey farms.
This succeeds where Tesco’s advert fails due to its authenticity. The customer seems genuinely surprised at the welfare enjoyed by the turkeys, albeit she gives little thought to the fact they’ll soon be on someone’s dinner table!
As a video production agency, we love the hype that surrounds the Christmas adverts. Many of them are brilliant examples of video’s ability to pack a powerful persuasive punch.
Why not email us to tell us your favourite Christmas video this year?