POST-SCRIPT: Battle of the Christmas ads

ARMY OF ME - The Philippine Star
POST-SCRIPT: Battle of the Christmas ads

Festive fashion: H&M’s 2016 Christmas ad is directed by Wes Anderson and stars Adrien Brody.


With barely two weeks to go before Christmas, by now you must have already seen your share of holiday advertisements. Every year, as soon as Halloween is over, some of the world’s most recognizable brands and retailers rush to cash in on an imminent spending frenzy. They do so by tugging at our collective heartstrings — en route to our collective purse strings, of course — with big-budget advertisements. The year 2016 is no different.

But just when you assume that the John Lewis Christmas ad has finished on top — in recent years it seems to have become the most highly anticipated of the festive season — along comes one that appears to have out-Christmased the UK department store chain’s TV ad that features a bouncing badger.

Allegro, a Polish online auction website, came up with a three-minute-long clip to rival the John Lewis one in terms of sentimentality. It stars a grandfather learning English to introduce himself to his granddaughter in the UK. In these rather uncertain times, it’s comforting to see a migrant’s tale portrayed in a lighthearted, positive way.

Apart from these two examples, this year’s crop of yuletide-themed commercials has been equal parts progressive and stylish. On the one hand, there’s the one by Marks & Spencer. “Christmas with love from Mrs. Claus” turns the spotlight on the feminist first lady of the North Pole who, Bond-style, helps her husband spread cheer around the world. Meanwhile, the Amazon Prime ad showing the friendship between a Christian Vicar and a Muslim Imam is winning hearts all over the Internet with its interfaith message.

On the other, slicker side is H&M. The Swedish fashion company didn’t only come up with just any Christmas advertisement — theirs is a Wes Anderson Christmas advertisement. Starring Adrien Brody, it showcases the color, whimsy and visual symmetry that Anderson’s fans have come to appreciate in films such as The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Life Aquatic.

British label Burberry took the fashion film approach to the holidays with its offering. The cinematic take on the life of Thomas Burberry, the company’s founder, celebrates the brand’s 160th anniversary and features actors Domhnall Gleeson as Thomas Burberry, Sienna Miller as his fictional first love, and Dominic West as Sir Ernest Shackleton, the explorer who wore Burberry gabardine on three Antarctic expeditions. It’s by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, who directed last year’s Amy Winehouse documentary.

The Mulberry ad is witty as well. The whole cast is played by children portraying adults. Wait for the heartwarming moment when one sister gives the other her sought-after Mulberry bag for Christmas and says, “It’s what’s inside that counts.”

Of course, if you want good old-fashioned December sentimentality, look no further than Heathrow Airport’s poignant clip featuring two teddy bears returning home. It’s a reminder to think about our elderly loved ones this time of the year.

Since they first graced our TV screens in the winter months of 1995, a fleet of twinkling Coca-Cola trucks making their way across a snowy landscape has become a familiar, Christmassy sight. While “Holidays Are Coming” is, for many people, an essential part of this season, a few have noticed that the animated Santa in this year’s campaign — the same one who has been featured in Coke ads for decades — does not wink at a sad little boy from the back of a truck before drinking a bottle of the soft drink. Talk about First World Problems: Yuletide Edition.

All in all, these Christmas ads are viral events, their online spread justifying the tens of millions of dollars spent on integrated and sophisticated Facebook and YouTube drives. But apart from putting a wry smile on your face, do these ads really work? These brands and retailers will find out in mid-January, when their annual year-on-year sales figures are presented to analysts. Ho-ho-ho.





















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