Constipation and Elton John; it must be Christmas ad time


The Christmas countdown has begun. Mince pies are hitting the supermarket shelves, twinkling lights are hanging in the streets and the festive ads are filling our TV screens. Whether you’re a Scrooge or a festive fanatic, you have little choice but to be smothered by Christmas.

November has seen the release of much-anticipated Christmas TV ads from some of the biggest high street brands.

Marcus Bennett, AB’s creative director and partner, shares his take on a few of this year’s Christmas ads by some of the best-known department stores.

Let’s begin with some sparks.

M&S: Must-haves

It’s not just any ad. It’s a heart-warming, festive ad starring the face of M&S, Holly Willoughby. While watching the delightful scenes of festive family occasions, it’s hard not to let the ad put a smile on your face.

Marcus states: “It’s refreshing to see that M&S have moved on from their past positioning of simply, ‘buy our products’.

“From the Bridget Jones moment to dancing mums, they really tucked into some nice clichés.”

For a little more action, suspense and humour, Argos introduces you to The Christmas Fool.

Meet The Christmas Fool

The light-hearted tale highlights Argos’ heroic status as the go-to store to save your last-minute Christmas mishaps. And let’s be honest, we all have them.

“A clear take on Harry Potter’s Dobby; it will inevitably be a favourite amongst children,” notes Marcus.

“The choice of opera, instead of a pop hit, is revitalising, making the ad stand out from others.

“And their message of accessibility really shines through here.”

So it seems that Argos did good. They tapped into the younger generation and effectively reflected their brand message.

Debenhams: Do a bit of you-know-you-did-good

Debenhams, on the other hand, went for a hard sell with some questionable facial expressions.

“Cheap, cheerful and cheesy spring to mind,” reflects Marcus.

“The faces pulled by the actors just make them look constipated.”

Well, at least it puts a smile on your face.

And finally, it’s the ad that everyone has been waiting for…

It’s #EltonJohnLewis

It’s here: the moment we have all been waiting for. Reviews are already flooding in and it seems like John Lewis has received a Marmite reaction.

“The wait for the John Lewis Christmas ad was a bit like waiting for the Queen to arrive. Everyone has rocked up to the Christmas party, waiting in anticipation for the arrival of pop royalty. And in this case, it was Sir Elton John.

“John Lewis created a calendar event. It was a British Super Bowl moment,” says Marcus.

And then, it was released.

“It’s like John Lewis pushed creativity to one side and went for celebrity status.

“It’s a lovely concept and sweet storyline; but do John Lewis even sell pianos?” asks Marcus.

Advertising: challenges and triumphs

Mastering a successful ad can be challenging. As Jason, AB’s head of film states, “I can imagine agency creative teams feeling a sense of dread and excitement when it comes to receiving the Christmas campaign brief – the pressure to deliver bigger and better ideas each year must be immense.

“But there’s no doubt that at this time of year we usually see some real gems – creative thinking outside the box and going beyond what your competitors are doing.”

If this year’s festive ads have inspired you to creatively promote your brand through film, get in touch with [email protected] or [email protected].


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