You wouldn't think that Christmas ads would be ones to make me pleased about the return of creativity and connection, but compared to previous years we have a surprising range of ads based around one theme.
Well actually, it isn't really that surprising. Following the public and ad-land wide acclaim (for the most part) for the John Lewis campaign, we appear to have a whole chunk of the retail sector who have been strongly influenced by it.
Which leads us to a weird situation, where we have four major retail chains all going with ads that aim to appeal to us with more emotion. A weirder situation where Christmas ads are largely good. Plus an even weirder one where I have something not entirely positive to say about a W+K ad. God help us there's even a not entirely anger inducing ad from Go Compare, though that's not for this post.
So where to start?
Edit: Happily having seen the other ads in the campaign, it's just this one execution where the offer doesn't quite tie. The rest work wonderfully, and the playfulness with the logo adds a friendly touch to Tesco that is has been needing for a while as the supermarket behemoth of note.
Let's start by saying this is definitely a marked improvement on what Tesco have done recently. A million million miles better than the Spice Girls debacle of yore.
The key idea is really nice, the connection of the right present with a good Christmas, the joy of finding the gift your kids are asking for with the minimum of hassle. Who could dislike a Furby singing a Lionel Richie track?
The issue for me is the way the ad jumps too much, I don't like the way it cuts from the lovely key idea, to a promotional message that doesn't feel connected to the main idea, back to the idea, then to an end frame with their usual strapline. It takes an ad that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy and blunts it.
A lovely strategic idea that maybe would have worked better in a longer format, or perhaps by splitting the promotional message into a different execution.
After what feels like years of out and out price messaging we suddenly get something really nice from Asda. Making no bones about the effort and the hassle of Christmas, but with two reassuring messages that it is worth it, and Adsa is there to help make it less hassle than it would otherwise be. Lots of typical Christmassy problems, but an end result that makes you smile.
What's surprising about this is just how similar this ad is to Asda. They feel like they could have been made with the same brief. Whilst the Morrisons ad is less overtly about the supporting of mums, it focuses more on the trials and tribulations of getting everything ready for that special end result. The wonderfully absurd execution takes the same old Christmas problems and shows them in a way that creates a genuine warm humour. The bit with the Russian Doll cupboard is absolutely spot on.
I think this is my favourite of the three. Although as a friend of mine pointed out, the music ends on a dominant chord, which gives it a really unnerving awkwardness on what should be a happy moment. I am surprised no one spotted that.
"Here come the g..." Oh.
This is a bit closer to the typical Christmas ad, but the little vignettes are sweet, and feel far closer to reality than the slightly irritating cliche'd 'girls' ever did. It's also a nice strategic way to get around the perception (from how I saw it) that Boots gifts are mainly for women, and are small token gifts rather than significant gestures.
Warm, sweet and funny, great work. The little girl talking to the dog is just adorable.
The Supermarkets all focus on mum, as you might expect, while Boots have gone the other way and opened up more to men. I do wonder whether guys feel left out of Christmas, always in the way or bit part players, whereas I imagine (from my experiences at least) that these days there is a bit more of a team effort. The Asda ad is definitely weaker for this.
As always, knowing how people will react to them is hard to guess. There are a mix of positive and negatives scores to each video on You Tube already. I hope that, given the usual minefield of generic Christmas ads, these will have a positive impact overall.
It's lovely to see so many Christmas ads that make you feel something, and show the season with a sense of honesty, rather than the stereotypical cheesy images we usually get rammed down our throats.
In fact, if there is one problem, it's that by all improving at the same time, it's harder for these brands to stand out than if only one of them had improved. That though, is a great present to us from the retail sector and their agencies.