Daniel Fisher - and Daughter - Round Up This Year's UK Christmas Crop
As the writer behind Sorry, I Spent it on Myself for Harvey Nics, and Monty the Penguin for John Lewis, Daniel Fisher knows a thing or two about Christmas ads. Here, he and a (very) young creative cast their eye over this year's Christmas collection.
So, another Christmas is somehow almost upon us, and with it another crop of carefully selected, shiny wrapped Christmas ads have arrived on our screens for us to over-analyse.
And, helping me over-analyse them this evening, is Lettie, my 17-month-old daughter, who is actually supposed to be fast asleep upstairs but woke up two hours ago and is refusing to go back to sleep. Apparently she wants to do nothing but sit on Daddy's lap and do whatever Daddy's doing, despite the fact that Daddy has a this copy deadline looming and needs to spend the next hour or so racking his brain for ever-so-casual-and-off-the-cuff witticisms about the yearlong efforts of his peers.
Above: Daniel Fisher and his daughter, Lettie.
"I wanted to like this one but after a very promising, filmic start it ran out of puff a little and I was a tad bored by the end."
So, we've made a truce and we are doing it together.
First up, John Lewis; no way are Lettie and I saving the main event till last. There's a lot of debate raging about this one, but we're fans. I am, full of admiration for its flawless craft and the way it has artfully wrong-footed all the copycats, just like every good market leading brand should. Lettie, however, who loves her Moz toy more than warm milk, is wondering what the hell they did to the ugly but cuddly monster this year. (I've just spotted a cheap gag throwing itself at me here but I'm refusing to take it).
Next up, KFC. I like this, it's funny and different and fresh and well done. Lettie does too - it's got an actual chicken in it, so it's thumbs-up all round.
"As the father of two girls, I had a massive soft spot for last year's effort so was looking forward to seeing how they'd followed it up but, sadly, it didn't quite deliver on my schmaltzy expectations."
Even better than a chicken though, is a teddy bear. Or two of them. Lettie is beside herself at this one for Heathrow, just as she was when we saw it on the actual tellybox the other day. As for me, whilst it may not have me shouting "Dadda!" for 90 seconds, I'm still charmed by it. It's sweet, it's charming and it's not trying too hard. And three years in, it still hasn't ran out of steam.
"There're no classics, no gamechangers, and there hasn't really been for a while."
The McDonald's ad is also going down well with these two critics. It's nicely told, the reindeer are really well rendered and it has oodles of Christmas sparkle.
"I'm not sure what it's supposed to make me feel. But I know I'll still do 89% of my Christmas shopping there, so what does it really matter?"
Sainsbury's next. Bummer for them that they who must not be named did something virtually identical a few weeks back, but it's very well done, with a great track and some lovely, endearing touches (hello plug and socket moment), so manages to get away with it. Lettie doesn't seem so sure but she hasn't started blubbing so that's a good sign.
Next up is Amazon. Lettie has recently discovered the art of the musical clap-along so it's a big hit for her, but I'm not so sure. Despite its high production values, it sort of bores me, and I'm not sure what it's supposed to make me feel. But I know I'll still do 89% of my Christmas shopping there, so what does it really matter?
Argos; I wanted to like this one but after a very promising, filmic start it ran out of puff a little and I was a tad bored by the end. Lettie doesn't actually have an opinion on this one because I'm not letting her watch it in case that fool thing gives her nightmares and keeps her up even longer (call me over-protective but this is the kid who crapped herself in the pool this summer when her big sister jumped in wearing an inflatable unicorn).
Ok, Boots; as the father of two girls, I had a massive soft spot for last year's effort so was looking forward to seeing how they'd followed it up but, sadly, it didn't quite deliver on my schmaltzy expectations. Lettie is starting to fall asleep though, so it's not all bad.
Oh, here we go, that Aldi ad everyone's going on about. I have to say, I've never really got this whole Kevin the Carrot malarkey, but a quick online search reveals it as being in its third year now, with the soft toy version changing hands on eBay for £100, so what do I know (apart from that the person paying £100 for a stuffed supermarket carrot is 100% the creative who wrote the ad)? I do think the little girl on my lap would possibly dig it (come on, it's a talking vegetable), but she's almost asleep now, and there's no way I'm waking her to find out.
"I love the seasonal generosity behind paying a charity to re-purpose their film."
In fact, I'm going to take that as a cue to wrap up, so for my encore, it's only fitting that I talk about the Iceland ad formerly known as Greenpeace's.
I have to say, I love this film. It genuinely moved me and made me angry when I first saw it, back in its days as a charity film. But what of it as a Christmas spot for Iceland? I'm not sure I'm the target market, but it certainly makes me re-appraise the brand, and whether it's giving me the Christmas feels or not, I love the seasonal generosity behind paying a charity to re-purpose their film. And no one can argue with 30 million hits on YouTube and all those forthcoming earned media calculations.
Of course, there's more Christmas ads more I could dissect - it really does seem to be a bumper crop this year - but I think I've covered the best of them, so apologies if I've missed yours but I'm going to call it a night and take the little one back to her bed.
One parting comment though; I kind of feel that, although there's loads of good films under the tree this year, there're no classics, no gamechangers, and there hasn't really been for a while. I feel 2018, like 2017 and 2016 before it, is crying out for something with the originality of a Long Wait or the attitude of a Goldblum. And that's a shame. If Christmas advertising really is our Super Bowl, where's our festive Tide ad?