Commercial Baaa-nter

Are Christmas adverts so ubiquitous that they’ve become part of the spirit of the season?

Many feel that the real Christmas joy can be lost in a swathe of materialistic want. The worst of this is epitomised in events such as ‘Black Friday’, a day of newsworthy overnight queues, pepper spray and muggings;  the gift of giving can get a little out of hand. Christmas adverts are no exception, in the season of shopping big bucks are spent on adverts to try and dominate the commercial airwaves and capture the Christmas market. These adverts will come storming onto our tellys, overflow the radio stations and command the internet announcing the arrival (probably in November) of Christmas and yet, do we all really despise these smug, stomach-churning, self-indulgent ads, or have they just become another festive tradition we all love to hate?

The one thing that everyone hates about Christmas ads is the fact that they abuse our senses before Christmas is a flicker in the innocent eye of a four year old. We all sit there moaning about this premature exposure, and yet, what we fail to notice is that this in itself has become an annual tradition, absorbed into the routine of the yuletide months. The classic Coca-Cola ad, the one with the trucks, announces in early November that ‘holidays are coming.’ People denounce this on screen adornment and yet forget that this allows us to revel in a universal anticipation for that little bit longer. This pre-emptive festive strike allows students to decorate their flats with what little tinsel their loans will stretch to, have numerous Christmas dinners and exchange secret Santas early enough to appreciate it before they scurry off home for the actual event.

Still, this redemption no longer applies after incessant jingles have become trapped within your skull and the naff grinning faces, Christmas lights, rosy cheeks and Santa outfits, which seem obligatory in most Christmas ads, have bombarded you for a month and it’s still not December.  Increasingly, that M&S one will drive you up the wall as would be X-Factor stars sing a sickeningly sweet rendition of ‘wish upon a star.’ Those scenes, so chummy, cosy and friendly begin to jar as the sharp scent of competition permeates the advert itself as each contestant is slowly cut from the ad as they are rejected by public votes. Surely this is not part of the Christmas spirit, but at least it provides a hilarious and somewhat odd combination in a Christmas ad about dreams coming true.

Despite the oddness of M&S a prize must go to Brooks Brothers for the most fascinatingly strange advert. Their rendition of ‘jingle bells’ by animated sheep, entitled ‘The Holiday Miracle’, at first seems cripplingly adorable until you notice the wool jumpers strung around their necks and a vengeful glint in their eyes. Perhaps it is a creepiness that only I appreciate, having watched the horror movie Black Sheep (about mutant sheep that desire human flesh). What at first seemed in line with the fluffy delights handed out by the supermarkets and cosmetics stores, suddenly obtains a sharper edge when viewed with this background knowledge. I would like to believe that this was the inspiration for the Brooks Brothers ad team; unfortunately I wouldn’t put money on it.

Despite this wealth of criticism I struggle to truly dislike these cheesy, disjointed and outright strange contributions to the ad break. Christmas adverts epitomise what the festive season is all about; strange combinations (of family members and different meats), excessiveness (in decor, outfits or alcohol), and that gooey warm feeling inside (caused by either or both of the aforementioned). They therefore possess a strange, somewhat twisted honesty about the season, an honesty that ensures that even John Lewis one can’t make me hate Christmas adverts.


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