Last Christmas, the 21st Century pretender to the communications throne took on old 20th Century values of ‘consumption for happiness’ and won hands down.
Adam & Eve and Littlewoods' in-house team separately confirmed what we’d suspected for a while; that the wheels have well and truly turned and consumer attitudes have changed dramatically in a very short period.
Littlewoods understood that an emotive approach works at this time of year and set their, frankly, old-fashioned parade of expensive-things-to-buy at a school nativity. It was tried and tested in the last century but in the spirit of our age of recession, it really missed the point.
We’ve moved on. We are no longer a nation of show-offs. Today we are much more likely to apologise for the big purchases. A few years ago you would never have heard "it looks really expensive but I got it in the sale", when in fact they got it with a discount of just a few pounds.
Times have changed; these days those that still have the means to spend are embarrassed - they don’t want to parade their purchases.
At the end of October Adam & Eve's David Golding and Helen Weavers won the IPA Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix for their work for John Lewis, including the phenomenally successful ‘For Gifts You Can’t Wait To Give’ Christmas execution.
This is a team that absolutely understands the zeitgeist. They have spearheaded a tranche of advertising that includes The Trip for Halford’s and Farmer's Lad for Hovis. This movement engages and entertains on an emotional level, we’re all looking for the beauty in life and finding it in surprisingly small things, in the basics - love, respect and trust.
Now this "unctuous cross between a feelgood movie and a Children in Need special" isn’t to everyone’s taste, Charlie Brooker. But even to the dissenters it is a leap in the right direction away from the old consumption messages.
Now that the last embers of bonfire night are gone, this year's parade of Christmas advertising is hitting our screens; first John Lewis, with Littlewoods not far behind.
Littlewoods has announced that it's taken note of last year’s criticisms, so let’s hope it's found a planner of Helen Weavers' caliber to guide this year’s campaign. Even if it continues to shun agencies, planning can at least hope to bring it creatively closer to its audience.