Christmas ads 2018: Adland reviews the work so far

There are seven weeks to Christmas and brands including Amazon, Argos and Lidl have already hit the TV screens with their spots.

Christmas ads 2018: Adland reviews the work so far

In the first of a series of reviews, Campaign called on a number of industry folk to offer their thoughts on the latest Christmas ads.

This week: Aldi "Kevin the Carrott Christmas cliffhanger" by McCann UK, Amazon "Can you feel it" by Lucky Generals, Argos "The Christmas fool" by The & Partnership London, Asda "Bringing Christmas home" by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Currys PC World "The magic of Christmas upgraded" by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Lidl "Upgrade your Christmas" by TBWA\London.

Laurent Simon

Executive creative director, BBC Creative

Argos: A touch too convoluted/random. Which is betrayed by having to title the idea at the start of the film.

Asda: The wrapper is better than the present.

Currys PC World: I miss Goldblum.

Lidl: Feels a tad cheap when the whole idea is about upgrading.

Aldi: A carrot called Kevin + Home Alone’s theme tune = Easter egg for Christmas.

Amazon: Not feeling it just yet (still early November), but this is the best of the bunch. So far.

Remco Graham

Chief creative officer, Now

Christmas is our Super Bowl. Simple as that. Generating more PR for our industry than any other time in the year. Big agencies. Big talent. Big brands and budgets. Big expectations against gloomy-looking high-street figures. Fame beckons. It has to.

First off. A Christmas ad about Christmas travelling down a snowy mountain. Haven’t I seen this before?Didn’t Argos do an ad with – oh, hang on, yes, yetis. Must be the new Argos ad.

Oh. No, it isn’t. It’s for Asda.

Big ad. Weirdly familiar.

Next Amazon. The singing boxes are back. A creative vehicle that keeps on giving. Very pleasant. Very slick. Great track. Can you feel it? Yes. Yes I can. Feels Christmas if a little corporate.

Just like the old Coke ad that hits our screen every year. It heralds the start of the magical gluttony of Christmas.

That big iconic red truck driven by… Kevin the fucking Carrot. What the fuck? The sheer fucking audacity. Kevin the carrot driving a truckload of carrots just like the big guy.

This is what I was after. A ballsy brand looking to do something different. To stand out from the crowd. It made me spit my premium cereal onto my beard as I watched it. Nicely done and nicely pulled off Aldi.

Next, two ads that share a similar end line. The magic upgraded. And Upgrade your Christmas.

For Curry’s PC World, the expectation is huge. The genius of Jeff Goldblum still weighing thick in the still air. In this new ad, we’re being asked: what if Dickens characters had access to smart speakers and big TVs?

Great thought and crafted with some beautiful direction as I’d expect, but it just leaves me thinking – do I really care? Can we have Jeff back? Would it have made it to have had a cameo of Jeff in it? Could have done. We’ll never know.

Then there’s Lidl with some charming comic scenarios with Lidl customers taking their Christmas preparations to the extreme. Nicely done. But this is the Christmas Super Bowl. Is it enough?

Lastly, there’s Argos. This year, they’re not skiing down a mountain with yetis. Someone else is doing that. They’ve taken a sidestep and developed a Christmas Troll that’s every merrymakers worst nightmare. Hats off to them for trying something new with a good insight. It just isn’t hugely enjoyable.

So as we reach halfway in the game, I think Kevin the Carrot’s in the lead. But there’s a long way to go. The final-minute big kickers are still to step onto the field. John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and the on-form BBC are still to play. Be interesting to see the full time scores. Good luck.

Chris Hirst

European and UK group chief executive, Havas

Every June across London, unseen and unheralded, the real battle of the Christmas campaigns breaks out as creative departments wage a war of attrition to try to sell a big Christmas ad that doesn’t look like every other big Christmas ad. The size of the prize is worth the fight. This year, however, so far, snow, Christmas trees, wrapped boxes and mince pies seem to have won the day. Chief marketing officers the UK over can relax with their procurement-approved sherry knowing that they aren’t going to draw any unwanted attention to themselves.

It’s as though these campaigns are all studiously trying not to make any kind of point at all; nothing not to like or, heaven forbid, be offended by; no Christmas truces or lonely men on the moon here. Just pastiches of the Christmases that have only ever existed in ads – and Home Alone. Perhaps consequently, all manage to capture the prevailing zeitgeist: an air of mild anxiety mixed through with neediness. If, as agencies endlessly claim, they’re all about popular culture, this batch are nailing it.

Some old curmudgeon may mutter that if somebody had the courage to throw all that off (or just pretend more convincingly), there may be a big win to be had. But not me – I like mince pies.

Two, however, stood out. Aldi’s almost empty runaway truck hanging over a cliff edge seems to be hinting at something larger, but I can’t for the life of me think what the German supermarket is trying to tell us. Anyway – so what if he goes over and we lose those carrots? Us plucky Brits will dig up Parliament Square and grow our own. And Amazon, which stuck to the approved Christmas formula™, but by turning the production budget up to 11, strut among the bricks-and-mortar mob, waving their wedge around like Harry Enfield in the 1980s. Fortunately, next Christmas, once we’re free of the elites, technocrats and experts, all production budgets will become this generous once again. 

Gurjit Degun

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