The Battle for Xmas No.1 !

Not so many years ago there was very little written in the media about TV advertising but an awful lot about the challengers for the Xmas number 1 in the hit parade (don’t you just love that name!).  I think that has changed and the most interesting debates are now being had about which TV ad will ‘win’ this year.

Now I go back a bit, so my early recollections are of Wizard and Slade battling it out in 1973, at the time that was fairly big news to 12 yr old me.  Were you a “Merry Xmas Everybody” fan or did you hanker after “I wish it could be Christmas everyday”?  I’m glad Slade won out personally.

There followed a number of media fueled fights for No1;  In 1984 Wham took on Band Aid (and the same songs/artists battled it out the following year too).  Novelty acts like Mr Blobby have taken on established artists like Take That, and Cliff Richard has had many a battle for No1 at Xmas – remember Millennium Prayer vs Westlife in 1999?

But today … in a connected social media world .. What are we discussing? “Do you like the new John Lewis ad?” (I don’t as it happens – but creative views are always subjective … just like music I guess).  A real cultural shift.

Lets look at a few;


These are a little worthy – trying quite hard to resonate: I would put M&S “no celebrity” ad this year into this camp.  The Waitrose ad with Heston and Delia very much lives here … the location even suggesting Cathedral like proportions and atmosphere.

These brands are trying to show they are thinking about ‘little old us’ and the current economic climate … does it work?  Time will tell, and you will vote with your feet and pennies just like I will.   This is the overwhelming theme this year.


A worthy mention to the evergreen Coke ad “Holidays are coming” it’s now so old it gets cut through due to its 4:3 ratio on-screen … but subliminally are they also trying to tie into the emotional resonance of  “well I’m not paying for their advertising on every can am I”  I wonder.  Great ad though and brilliant audio cut through in a world where we type as we view!


ALDI go into this camp as they are the current Supermarket of the year and their advertising is scooping awards.  Its likeable advertising .. Like being the key theme … it demonstrates cheapness in a likeable and engaging way.  That is at the heart of its proposition and its advertising strategy.  They are doing it brilliantly well in my opinion.  My favourite for winning the battle for return on marketing investment, and the Xmas campaign wins for me because it is so consistent with their messaging for the other 11 months of the year.

Compare it to Matalan who are trying to make us LOVE them this Xmas ! My view : you need to be liked first !


Boots ran a series of great ads over the years at Xmas that arguably started the trend for running around in ads if nothing else (now being used in a sub Captain Scarlet ‘stylee’ by – the chutes remind me of the Angel Interceptors and Peter Gordeno in UFO every time I see it – really awful in my view, the ad that is, not the sci-fi). But 2012 sees a woeful strap-line that I really struggle with “Let’s feel good” – at the very least ‘here come the girls’ cut through with heavy audio cues.  I think the TV ad works, though I have reservations on the strap-line.

Littlewoods is another ad I think which will struggle.  Firstly I recognise her, but I am confused now with which brand Mylene Klass is the face of … this year.  My view here is that the heavy use of ‘interest free low weekly payments’ is a little too clumsy to be truly effective, but it’s that economic climate theme again.

In terms of ASDA .. well accusations of sexism & Mumsnet campaigns mean I think this will not be deemed a triumph for the brand this Xmas


Well its clear to see that John Lewis are going for the tactic of schmaltz and making us cry again .. Doesn’t work for me … but it resonates with middle England.  Don’t misunderstand me either .. I love Mr Lewis and his business model ! But it looks like the advertising equivalent of 2 become 1 by the Spice Girls, the Xmas number 1 in 1996 I might add.

It’s an interesting battle for our affections this year but personally I think the lack of glam rock longevity demonstrated by Slade and Wizard, the true emotional resonance of a Band Aid single or the musical joy of Wham is singularly missing.

With an honorable exception … I think Sainsbury’s use of  music combined with an ad style consistent with the rest of their campaigns, in that it’s homely and ‘nice’ and friendly, rather like Aldi, is a successful one – it does not try too hard but in doing so balances emotion and realism in a way that is easy to associate with.  They get my vote for this year !


let me know if you agree or not …


22 November 2012

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: