The Ads & Ages of Christmas
18th December by Imogen Ward
All of us at AAW were thrilled to hear the news that our long-term client Home-Start UK had been chosen as a partner for the John Lewis Christmas campaign – Give A Little Love.
We work with clients of all shapes and sizes – some of them are the big names that are all shiny with their steady files of individual givers and blue chip commercial partnerships. But we are also work with not for profits that are also delivering big impact without the benefit of having a big name or a wide public constituency of support. Home-Start falls into this camp and its life affirming when something this brilliant happens to an organisation that truly deserves this break.
And this made Team AAW think a bit about this Christmas ads thing. Yes Christmas ads. Our sugar filled modern day madrigals that start to ease into our consciousness in or around the second week of November that we love to hate. Or hate to love. Or just love.
It got me pondering as to why they stick with us and are so memorable years, decades even, after we first saw them.
Surely it’s not just the brand and the selling stuff bit that’s so compelling. I mean who can remember Sainsbury’s 2014 summer ad campaign for example? I guess it’s because these ads match the many ‘ages’ of Christmas that we as individuals live through. Christmas is complex and brings a lot of emotions. Maybe this is why.
For me, as one banging on the door of my 5th decade, I have I think five distinct ages of Christmas:
- 1st Age: Child – over excited, over tired, often sick from too much sugar or from being poisoned by siblings.
- 2nd Age: Teenager – eye rolling discontent hiding the fact that inwardly I am still over excited really. Whatever.
- 3rd Age: Late teens – early 30s – hungover and heartbroken. That’s all.
- 4th Age: Parent of young kids – tired, emotional, broke. Rinse and repeat.
- 5th Age: Parent of teenagers - really quite pissed off that whilst my adolescent brats show no interest in contributing to Christmas or even make an effort pretending, they still have the temerity to produce a Christmas List that would make Eartha Kitt on the brink of belting out that paean to consumerism ‘Santa Baby’, reflect & wince. And breathe.
You can see where I am going here? Team AAW started their trawl through memory banks by going way back. To this Woolies ad in fact. Remember this one? Or rather maybe better that you don’t. Did that ad really add to my excitement as a child and teenager? Gosh we were easy to please in the early 80s weren’t we?
The annual appearance of the big man in red and white, also brings to mind Coca Cola’s Holidays Are Coming of course. Now, this actually fits right across the board doesn’t it? Coke is something we crave as a kid (1 and 2), it’s a very good hangover cure (3). It keeps us awake when we are tired (4), and it is made much significantly more drinkable by adding rum (5).
Unsurprisingly the Coca Cola one scored highly on our poll, coming in a stonking second. Another ad that did really well with the team is the Sainsbury Ad – Christmas 1914 made in 2014. This took the whole Christmas ad thing to another league – filmic, sweeping and deeply moving. It was third in our league table.
And what was number 1? Well very appropriately it was by John Lewis and the one that at least for now, is perhaps is the most memorable for most – The Bear and the Hare. Perhaps it’s the animation, maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s just all the elements coming together so perfectly but it does seem to be for all ages. Yes, even teenagers.
Whilst I can see the merits of all the ads the team nominated (full list below) there was only one for me. And in keeping with my tenuous link of ages and ads, it smacks me right in the eye given my current ‘Christmas Age’. It is McDonald’s Reindeer Ready.
And maybe this is the key to all of this …. for despite whatever personal Christmas Age we are currently living through, we all hanker for magic, for happy endings, for resolution. For the moment when we snuggle up on the sofa and all is forgiven.
I hope Christmas 2020 brings you love and a bit of magic. And lots and lots of cuddles.
Merry Christmas from all at AAW x
In addition to the ads listed above the AAW team also loved:
M&S – Him
John Lewis – Man on the Moon
SuperValu – Believe
Sainsbury’s – The Greatest Gift
Sainsbury’s – Mogs Calamity
Yellow Pages – Mistletoe