The battle for the best Christmas ad is well and truly under way. Two advertising supremos sift the turkeys from the crackers.

Ogilvy & Mather London chief strategy officer Kevin Chesters and Grey executive creative director Vicki Maguire give their opinion on this year’s retail Christmas adverts.

Argos, Yetis

Vicki Maguire: To my mind, Christmas ads have to be either useful or entertaining; do good or look good.

It really is that simple. Be of some use, tell me how to get the cheapest, best quality, fastest delivery.

Alternatively thrill me, melt me, make me laugh, cry, let me forget for 60 seconds or more that I’ll have a houseful of ingrates expecting waitress service. 

Argos’s fluro yetis skating through the snow to deliver my goods in under 60 mins is bright and useful. Thank you, Argos

It’s a cracker!

John Lewis, Buster the Boxer 

Kevin Chesters: If I were to judge this – admittedly harshly – against the quality of some of it’s own predecessors, I might have to judge it a turkey.

But against the general paucity of most of the Christmas fare on offer this year (or any other year), it still comes out near the top.

It’s joyful, but I’m not sure it’s 100% triumphant. It’s no Monty or Long Wait, but it has still garnered the lion’s (or boxer’s) share of the column inches and it’s very well put together, as you’d expect.

Niggles? It feels a little like it’s trying so hard to be “the John Lewis ad” that it forgets to just be a brilliant ad. And who the hell would buy a trampoline from John Lewis anyhow?

It’s a cracker!

Tesco, Bring it On

Kevin Chesters: Not sure that many Heralds will be harking this one.

I know Tesco have been saying that it’s a deliberate antidote to the expected Christmas epics, but I don’t think it delivers against real life either. It’s still fantasy, just a slightly humdrum daily life one, with dated, tired gags.

The best Levi’s ads (Launderette, Creek et al) were always just basically Benny Hill gags shot beautifully and with incredible music and sound design. This feels a bit more like Hale and Pace, with seasonal offers on mince pies.

I just can’t get into this family; they’ve always felt like a bad photocopy of Jane Horrocks and Prunella Scales. Has their son left home by the way? I didn’t miss him, in case you’re wondering.

It’s a Christmas turkey!

House of Fraser, Christmas is Coming For You

Vicki Maguire: Feels like cheap tinsel to me. No narrative to bring a tear to my glass eye, or informative enough to tell me I can get that beard trimmer delivered in under an hour. 

It’s a Christmas turkey!

Marks & Spencer, Mrs Claus 

Kevin Chesters: This is an unexpected belter. A real (please forgive me) Christmas cracker (sorry).

Who doesn’t love a good story at Christmas time? Nicely shot, never felt over-long and a return to form after those slightly soft-porn angels, Helena Bonham-Carter or that weird Art of Christmas thing last year.

It had all the things I wanted – Santa, family, pinch of magic, narrative, snow, a HELICOPTER! It also made me feel Christmassy. I felt that it didn’t self-consciously try to be an epic ad, it just concentrated on telling a good story.

I’m not sure whether it sold the range, but it did make me feel something. So that elevates it above 90% of Christmas advertising, or any advertising, come to think of it.

It’s a cracker!

Lidl, Christmas Turkey advert

Vicki Maguire: I love Lidl. I love their chippy, unapologetic challenger brand spirit. And I love them for this advert.

Tackling customers’ prejudice head-on is a strategy that has worked well for McDonald’s in the past. The thought that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for price this Christmas is a winner.

I hope they don’t try to jazz up their later ads; I like this message without the trimmings.

It’s a cracker!

Waitrose, Coming Home

Kevin Chesters: Call me heartless, but I just couldn’t, as hard as I tried, get emotionally involved in the story of a robin red breast.

I found myself not really giving too much of a stuff, quite frankly, about whether he (or she, I’m no Bill Oddie) got washed overboard or eaten by a bouncing Boxer.

I also couldn’t stop thinking how unhygienic it was for the birds to be pecking those pies at the end. Just didn’t connect with me on an emotional level.

No lords leaping at this effort (sorry).

It’s a Christmas turkey!

Debenhams, Found It

Vicki Maguire: Celeb voices try to give personality to inanimate objects. Sorry, but I found it dry and lacking in charm. 

You have to raise your game at Christmas. If you can’t outspend the big boys, out-think them. This does neither. 

It’s a Christmas turkey!

Boots, The Gift of Beauty

Kevin Chesters: This appeals to my planner’s heart (and head). It starts with a strong, simple insight (many Brits are actually working over Christmas – lots of retail employees, for starters!) that is missing from most of the Christmas work I’ve seen so far.

It was done for real with real people, like a lot of my favourite festive work over the years (Sainsbury’s’ Christmas in a Day being one of my all-time faves).

It’s well-shot and I think it’ll leave a lot of real people (i.e. not advertising or marketing people) nodding and feeling good.

I don’t think it’s the most creatively creative creative I’ve ever seen in terms of execution, but it is a strong thought, well-executed and feels very on-brand.

My caution in terms of tactic would be: will the understated ‘real’ approach get lost in all the noisy jingle bells on Christmas ad-frenzy? Hope not.

It’s a cracker!

Very.co.uk, Get More Out of Giving

Vicki Maguire: Very, bless ’em. God loves a trier.

They’ve really upped their game from last year and it would have been a sweet, heart-warming animated ad, if it hadn’t been blown out of the water by Sainsbury’s.

Outclassed on craft, storytelling and outtake.

It’s a Christmas turkey!

Asda, Christmas Made Better

Kevin Chesters: I really wanted to like this one for the same reasons I actually wanted to like Tesco – an antidote to the expected three-minute epics.

I wanted to love 20-odd individual moments/insights of Christmas that Asda can “make better”.

But it all just felt a bit like a shoe-horned conveyor belt of products that desperately just wanted to reveal a massive star burst or a corner flash at any moment.

Call me a traditionalist, but I LIKE my Christmas ads (or films as we are compelled to call them these days) to be special. I like the fact that Christmas isn’t bargain or everyday.

I know Asda wants to be known for value, but this just felt slightly the wrong side of bargain bucket. I don’t want a bleak mid-winter, I get enough of that for the rest of the year.

It’s a Christmas turkey!

Sainsbury’s, The Greatest Gift

Vicki Maguire: I love this. Seriously love this. This is a wonderful “f**k you” from the incumbent agency AMV (this is the last ad they will create for the supermarket after it ended its near-40-year relationship with the agency).

My only niggle is the time length. I’d love it shorter or longer. Does that make sense? I’d happily watch an hour-long film, or a 60-sec ditty. 

It’s a cracker!

Burberry, The Tale of Thomas Burberry

Kevin Chesters: I know I’m meant to like this one because it’s dead long and expensively shot, but I just don’t.

I really loved the fact that brands like Mulberry and Harvey Nichols last year kept all the aspiration and quality, yet made me smile and left me feeling warm. By contrast, this effort from Burberry feels a little over-serious and pretentious.

I don’t want a film to feel like a history lesson, I want something joyful to watch while I’m eating figgy pudding with my nearest and dearest.

After 90 seconds this felt a little over-blown and I still had 90 seconds to go. It felt too much like a slightly po-faced version of that Hovis film from a few years back.

It’s a Christmas turkey!