Christmastime is a wonderful celebration of goodwill towards all mankind. It’s also a shameless celebration of consumerism when shops launch massive advertising campaigns to convince us we need to buy stuff. So join me, dear reader, for some seasonally inappropriate cynicism targeted towards this year’s Christmas adverts…
Alongside John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and the Black-Eyed Peas’ ‘My Humps’, Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ ranks as one of the most heinous musical atrocities every committed upon mankind. Every time I hear it, I picture a pack of middle-aged divorcees with names like Sharon, Carol and Debs (never Debbie or Deborah) shuffling drunkenly to the song at an All Bar One, all wearing pink sashes even though they’re not at a hen do, loudly misremembering the lyrics in between gulps of rosé. So hearing this awful karaoke performed in an advert is my idea of hell. If you were planning a Saw-style torture room for me, it would be this.
This advert gives those without kids an idea of what school Christmas concerts are like for parents. The inordinate pride of seeing one’s spawn semi-successfully stand and vaguely approximate the sound of a Christmas song transforms the experience into something akin to a West End performance. Surely the best argument for not having kids is that you don’t have to go to this sort of shit – it’s proof that becoming a parent mutates the adult brain in mysterious, awful ways.
I know the message of the advert is supposed to be that we can all come together despite our differences. But what it really highlights is that, in 2018, there isn’t a fucking thing any of us can agree on. What we eat at Christmas, the way we eat it, what to do or how it should be done – no matter how seemingly small the issue, half of people will think one thing, the other half will think the exact opposite, and each side will think the other is ruining the world and deserves to die. A disturbing mirror of how divided the world is right now.
John Lewis / Waitrose
As dictated by law, I must mention John Lewis in this ad round up. Unfortunately, I don’t really have anything interesting to say about this year’s offering, other than that it feels more like an advert for Elton John than for John Lewis. I will, however, draw attention to the Waitrose advert that pokes fun at how long the JL ad is. It’s a great joke; even when fast forwarding through the ad at maximum speed it goes on for bloody ages. As someone who believes that you should get parliamentary approval to make a film more than two hours long, I consider a two minute advert an affront to human dignity.
Of course the main character in an Apple advert is an artisanal baker inexplicably able to afford a city centre flat big enough for a dog and an upright piano. And, as is legally required by the Apple End User License Agreement, she must use her Macbook in her local café/bicycle repair shop at least once. We never get to see what it is on those bits of paper, so I’m going to assume it’s her anarcho-feminist zine of Bowie-inspired vegan recipes, or some such hipster nonsense.
This feels like a seasonally-themed version of The Purge movies in which, for one day a year, roving gangs of masked maniacs terrorise normal citizens, breaking into their homes and hiding under their beds. *Trailer voice* This holiday, it’s season’s beatings. The Purge: War on Christmas, in cinemas December 2018.
In a very on-brand move, Iceland took an animation prepared earlier by Greenpeace and reheated it in the oven. However, this meant it fell afoul of rules prohibiting political advertising and was not cleared for broadcast by Clearcast (the body which pre-approves most British television advertising). As a result, Clearcast have been bombarded with abuse from animal lovers for the organisation’s perceived role in ‘banning’ the advert. Now, animal rights activists are not famed for their susceptibility to reason, but doesn’t our genetic similarity to apes make being mean to humans the same as animal cruelty? I wouldn’t normally say that online bullying is equally as bad as destroying orangutan habitats for palm oil, but in the spirit of goodwill towards all men (and monkeys), I am absolutely saying it now.
The perfect metaphor for Christmas: an unstoppable avalanche of consumerist bullshit stampeding towards you like the Mongol fucking horde. The start of this grotesque carnival is signalled by a canon going off, which in this metaphor is probably hearing Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ in a Primark the morning after Hallowe’en, and after that it’s two fucking months of relentless gift-buying, rich food, gaudy decorations, shit music, and drinking highly alcoholic beverages until you pass out minutes into January 1st, midway through the third verse of Auld Lang’s Aye. Merry Christmas.