Christmas Ads: Tacky and Overdone?

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We’ve all been there. The clocks have gone back, it’s pitch black and freezing cold outside and you’ve settled in for the night, in front of your TV. You hear the familiar jingle of a classic over-played festive song and recognise the family-friendly cheesy (yet wholesome) plotline. 

The Christmas adverts are upon us.

Christmas adverts are an established part of Westernised culture. They are unavoidable, an all-encompassing flood that flows from our television screens before December has even begun. But are they becoming little more than tacky overused clichés? 

It is true that Christmas is heavily commercialised. Even those who do celebrate it are likely to be exhausted with the familiar charades of ‘the adorably cute character who discovers Christmas-time’ and ‘the family reunite, become closer and spread festive joy’. It is very overdone. There are obvious similarities both across years and across advertisements. Furthermore, many plotlines are said to be unrealistic and are criticised for having little to do with the holiday as a whole and instead having a more manipulative purpose of pulling on the nation’s heartstrings. 

However, maybe these adverts are iconic for a reason? Anyone who watches a sweet but lonely old man reunite with his family just in time for a perfect Christmas day is bound to have a tear in their eye. Plus, nothing makes you feel more in the mood for the festive season like quintessentially Christmas things: mince pies, nativity scenes, candy canes, tinsel, reindeer and the list goes on. These heart-warming adverts can also be argued to raise community spirits, ultimately making us feel good.     

John Lewis is one of the major retailers which has become widely known for their ‘iconic’ Christmas adverts since their first festive-themed release in 2007. The status of their commercials is undeniable as it always stands out amongst the rife competition of all the big brands striving for attention. John Lewis’ Christmas adverts have given their branding and products a huge popularity boost, with audiences now actively tracking down the advertisements on YouTube. Notorious characters, such as Monty the penguin and, more recently, Edgar the dragon, are huge favourites with the public. Views on social media skyrocketed into the millions for these adverts and many conversations and opinions were generated and shared online. 

Companies spend millions on their Christmas themed campaigns, determined to catch viewers’ eyes and cement their brand with a positive festive vibe. The endless swarm of these specific seasonal ads makes this a difficult feat. However, with many companies producing arguably stale and churned out remakes, perhaps the gap is there for businesses to branch out and differentiate. 

Let’s be honest, the Christmas adverts are never going to stop. Year after year, retailers will continue churning out the recycled stories of extremely corny wonder and joy. But perhaps we should be allowed to switch off the cynical voice inside of us, and once more languish in the unrealistic and overly joyful world of festive advertisement. 

It is Christmas, after all.

Megan Johnson