Festive Adverts 2017: Ghosts of Christmas Past | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Festive Adverts 2017: Ghosts of Christmas Past

TV Editor Matt Dawson casts a critical eye over this years adverts that will dominate Christmas TV

Perhaps it’s because I’ve grown older and more cynical, but for the past few years it has felt that the “Christmas Spirit” has lost a bit of its spark.  Don't get me wrong, I love getting in the mood of the wintry holiday, but recently the run-up to it has felt hollow. Contrived Christmas adverts certainly haven’t helped. Starting with the early John Lewis ads that were pretty revolutionary for there time, they have since caused a never-ending flow of brands trying to capitalise on the festive season and imagining situations that are clearly devised by a thinktank of executives trying to find out what tracks best with audiences.

This has led to an emergence of some patterns. A fairly popular one is the anthropomorphised animal/inanimate object that finds true love, a family or whatever generic fuzzy feeling related to the holiday. This year, Aldi have jumped on the bandwagon with Kevin the Carrot. It ticks all the boxes: whimsical narration (complete with rhyming couplets), love at first sight with another of the orange root vegetables, and not-so-subtly placed reminders of all the festive food now on sale at the supermarket. Although we should be no strangers to the marketing of cute characters, after the continued endurance of Aleksandr the Meerkat. Time and time again we have seen animals used as cute characters capable of making our hearts melt. This year, as with every, is no exception.

Another example is the modern retelling of fairy-tales, but lacking the innocence and self-awareness of Pantomimes. This year’s offering from Debenhams is a remake of Cinderella, that gives an unrealistic perception of how people use social media to find missing footwear. Granted, it wasn’t as forced as the Alice in Wonderland/Aladdin/Wizard of Oz conglomeration in 2013 from Marks & Spencer, but it did something that I object to, which was being released on the 9th November 2017, almost two whole months before the day itself! They barely let last explosion from Bonfire Night fizzle away. I understand trying to drive up revenue for one of the most lucrative shopping periods of the year, but I can’t be the only one suffering from Christmas fatigue.

Those of you who love the festivities that accompany Christmas may choose to dismiss what I am saying, but I really feel that dragging the Christmas period makes it less special. Year upon year we are bringing Christmas forward; is this because releasing adverts has become a competitive race in which shops are only interested in high profits? Or is this because, as a nation, we hold on to Christmas as the most important time of the year? Whatever it may be, I am getting tired of it. If we continue to repeat similar storylines and push Christmas forward, we risk losing the uniqueness of the festive season.

Maybe I’m just a Scrooge. Maybe I should stop being so nitpicky and let the infectious positivity of Christmas wash over me. But not until December is in full swing at least.

Final year Modern Languages student, TV Editor, using student journalism as a post-Erasmus coping mechanism. (@mdawson_96)


10th December 2017 at 9:00 am

Images from

Birmingham Mail, Aldi and Debenhams