The Christmas TV Advertising Bonanza


So, there is one thing I know for sure, and that is I won’t be the only person writing a post about the Christmas TV ads this year. What I’m less sure about is how good the raft of TV ads are this year. This TV advertising bonanza, is now the UK’s version of the NFL Superbowl, where big UK retail brands fight it out for the most talked about ad. Where ad agencies ratings in Campaign live or die on how well received their ads are.

Of course, it’s not actually about TV anymore though is it? Youtube views / shares are more important. The old model of a 1 to 10 production to media ratio is out, now it’s about making the best, most talked about film. Production costs take a much bigger chunk of the overall budget and gauging their success is instant. Total transparency. So it’s good news for the brands in question and even better news for the film production companies.

But what of the creative output? I wonder if it’s all becoming a little predictable? Cute fluffy puppy, happy families, with a moral twist to remind us of what’s important this time of year. Or tedious celebs leaping about on a snowy set in October trying to feel Christmassy and stare at glazed turkeys stuffed t’ut gunnels with bubble wrap. At least those dreadful Geordies have been ceremonially booted off the Morrisons set!

We have to start though with John Lewis.

The pioneers of this movement. Constantly tugging at the heart strings of Britain. Last year a penguin, the year before a hare and now a poor old bloke on the moon, lonely as a cloud. (Except he doesn’t have any!) It is beautifully put together, the lyrics work to the letter, the editing is tight, and it links seamlessly into our moral reminder but it’s done nothing to move the circus on. It’s more of the same really perhaps, apart from the remake of the Oasis track which is the real turkey here. Next year, lets hope the agency brief changes and we don’t get the cute fluffy puppy with a moral point about a dog being for life not just Christmas!


Asda, last year did a great job in nailing its price promise against its competitors, I respected that, they stood for what they believed in, whereas this year we’ve got a smorgasbord of feel good Christmas moments but its price promise is nowhere to be seen. It’s just another piece of content.

Marks & Spencer

M&S is literally exactly the same as Asda but with a few more clothes and nicer sofas…there are probably a load of lovely celebs in there that your grandmother would love you to meet but I don’t recognise any of them…!

Now I’m not going to go through the whole list of Christmas ads, because that would take urr, until Christmas, but for me, two campaigns really stand out:


Last years Sainsbury’s advert was the brilliant WW1 Christmas in the trenches, introducing the moral code of sharing at Christmas, and this year another filmic epic with children’s character, Mog the cat, not as good, but at least they are not scared to get a bit dark and downright miserable, taking us on a journey. Right up until the last minute you are wondering how is this going to resolve itself in a positive way.

Curry’s PC World

But top of pops, for me anyway, is the brilliant Curry’s PC World campaign. On pure entertainment alone, it wins hands down. The acting is brilliant, the little touches, the amusing throw away quips from Jeff Goldblum. Brilliantly observed. In fact too good for advertising, it sits more in the world of the Office, The Thick of it or The Fast Show. Perhaps it’s exactly this that will let it down, it’s just too brilliant, the product and the brand are not levered in their to bring us down to earth. It’s up there with the Peter Kay, John Smiths ads. Total genius.

Ultimately though it’s bums on seats or in this case number of views, and they speak for themselves:

  • Asda 90k
  • M&S 1.9m
  • John Lewis 16m
  • Sainsburys 14.5m
  • Currys 145k

The money is on Sainsbury’s pipping John Lewis to the post, and hopefully this will be the catalyst that John Lewis need to reinvent their approach and therefore the category.


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