It seems like all of the big stores have created their own Christmas adverts this year with John Lewis facing competition from the likes of Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Argos and Aldi. Whether you want a heartfelt emotional story, a humorous animal filled adventure or a tongue in cheek animation, these UK companies have pulled everything out the bag this year to try to be the most effective at getting us viewers to spend in their stores.
So first up, the one that everyone waits for each year… John Lewis. The advert presents ‘the story of a little girl called Bridget who loves to bounce. When her mum and dad buy her a trampoline for Christmas, they soon discover that she isn’t the only one with a passion for jumping.’ This is when we meet Buster the Dog who seems to have become the star of the show within John Lewis’ Christmas ad this year. However, I cant help but feel it was a bit predictable and lacking the emotional connection that JL usually bring to their Christmas ads.
To start off the video links well to JL’s target audience as it shows how the girl’s dad is getting the main present ready in the garden for Christmas day. A lot of parents will be able to relate to this, creating a connection between the advert and the older viewers, JL’s target audience and the buyers! It’s something the audience will know of far too well having done similar, or the same things themselves late on a Christmas eve. This made me think that John Lewis was yet again about to deliver a heart warming story based on the little girl getting her favourite thing for Christmas, making me feel good about buying all of my Christmas necessities from John Lewis.
JL then decided to take a humorous approach by introducing CGI animals that come into the garden to play on the trampoline. By slowing down the advert in parts where the animals are jumping, it does actually become quite funny to see these animals in mid air on the trampoline but I also feel this is where John Lewis may have actually been unsuccessful in terms of advertising and gaining those extra Christmas sales. As you continuously get shown shots of Buster the Dog watching on from inside the house, giving those sad puppy dog eyes, you just know that he is going to run out onto the trampoline as soon as he gets the chance. As morning arrives and Bridget runs downstairs, the doors are opened for her to see her main Christmas present. To no surprise, her excitement is shortly lived as Buster the Dog comes flying out and runs straight out onto the trampoline.
Even though John Lewis have taken an alternative route and tried to make the advert more humorous this year, I don’t feel their message is as powerful as previous years, there is nothing really making me want to go and buy their products. I understand how they are trying to say that they sell gifts that everyone will love, but you don’t get to see the variation of what they do sell including actual gifts for dogs. You are shown a trampoline as the only gift and I’m pretty sure if you did buy your child a trampoline for Christmas the last thing you would want would be your pet jumping on it. I don’t think the way the message has been presented in the ad has been done effectively for John Lewis audience. Maybe they were trying to bring in a new wider audience, but seeing how successful they have been previous years, I think an emotional story based more on the little girl and her parents would have been more successful rather than appearing to aim it at people who like dogs. With big competition from rival companies this year, I personally don’t believe it has stood out compared to others released. As competition is already really strong from others such as Aldi and Marks and Sparks, who knows if John Lewis will be no.1 for Christmas ads in 2017 and beyond.
Next up is Aldi. The advert is quite an unexpected release from the fast growing discount supermarket chain. When I first saw the advert from Aldi, I really didn’t expect it to be by them. It presented a strong Christmas vibe, it was comical due to the fact it was based on an accident prone Carrot called Kevin and it also had a strong message as it retold the Yuletide classic ‘The Night Before Christmas’. No matter what age you are you’ll connect with this advert. The older audience will know the story ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and be able to enjoy it with a modern day twist that narrates the Carrot’s adventure. “But a Christmassy spread, though a joy to us all, can be quite scary when you are three inches tall.” The ad is very tongue in cheek, including puns such as when Kevin walks into a grater and grates his back, he says ‘oh great’ – very simple but very effective! The younger audience will enjoy it too because it’s a real life talking carrot that they’ll want to save from the accidents he keeps getting into! And the teenagers will secretly love it even if they are ‘too cool’ to admit it.
As you see the orange hero go on his adventure to meet Santa you not only find yourself laughing along at the silly accidents Kevin causes but you also find yourself looking at the whole story a little bit deeper. As a child or a parent with your children, you know that the carrots left out on a night for Santa and his Reindeers, don’t really come to life, but you do actually begin to go along with the story, imaging the events that the carrot could get up to if it was real. You begin to feel the emotions expressed through the carrots animated face and want him to escape the rolling roast potatoes. When you see him on the plate next to the mince pie, although you put the carrots out yourself on Christmas eve, you begin to feel worried and don’t want Kevin the Carrot to be there because you know he is then going to be eaten. As the advert comes to an end you see Kevin attached to Rudolf’s antler as they fly off into the distance, leaving you wanting to know what happens to Kevin! This dramatic cliffhanger is very suitable as the advert can be enjoyed by all ages and simply showing the carrot being eaten would ruin it for children. Whereas adults already know the whole thing isn’t real, it still keeps them in the deep sense that it could be and doesn’t ruin the ‘make believe’ idea for them too.
Aldi have produced an all round fun advert perfect for everyone that makes you want to know more about Kevin the Carrot as well as having your very own! I think it really puts Aldi up there with the top supermarkets and shows just how popular the discount chain is becoming. Also… you can buy Kevin the Carrot in store!
Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer have produced an advert that I think is perfect for their target audience. With two stories combined they present an adorable tale about a brother and sister, and also a sassy story based around ‘the remarkable female half of the world’s best-loved power couple’… Mrs Claus.
As the advert begins, women across the UK will be able to relate to Mrs Claus as she looks after Santa making sure he has everything he needs. Males will also then relate to the way in which Santa responds to his wife’s help, adding a bit of comedy value to the piece. As Santa then sets off to make his deliveries leaving Mrs Clause to read a letter, the second story of the advert is introduced of a brother and sister. You are introduced to the characters by a little boy called Jake who explains how he tries to play with his sister, Anna, but she can sometimes be angry. As Jake was playing one day with his dog, Tiger, he accidentally ruined his sister’s shoe and you soon see that the second story being told is actually a reenactment of the letter Mrs Claus is reading, bringing the two stories together.
As Jake tells you his story you cannot help but feel sorry for him as he cannot seem to do anything right for his sister. By knowing the character’s names within the advert you start to feel like you actually know these people and by being shown the events that occur within their household you start to relate them to things that have happened in your family too. This makes you want a happy ending for the family and for Mrs Claus to be able to bring that to them, a powerful achievement from Marks and Spencer. As Mrs Claus is getting prepared to go and help Jake I do feel it’s a bit too dramatic and ruins the believable feel as Mrs Claus has self opening doors and flies out in a helicopter (I did also question why she would take the helicopter for one delivery whilst Santa froze on a sledge going around the world!). But it could also be seen as representing the magic of Christmas with the mystical music that’s played in the background.
With some small jokes thrown in for M&S’ target audience Mrs Claus delivers the present in time for Christmas and you’re presented with the happy ending you’re made to want. Mrs Claus then arrives home just before Santa gets back, even managing to get a present wrapped and ready under the tree for him. The advert ends with Mrs Claus saying “well it wouldn’t be fun if you knew all my secrets” as Santa asked how the present got there, another joke perfectly targeted at the M&S audience. I feel Marks and Spencer have done really well at keeping their advert professional but with enough emotional impact to grab at their target audience’s heart strings. The story shows the magic of Christmas and the importance of coming together to make sure each of us is happy on Christmas day. By getting the audience to feel this way and to gain this message from their advert it makes you want to buy from M&S because you think you will feel the same way when you are surrounded by food and presents brought to you by M&S.