Last night’s unveiling of Sainsbury’s seasonal advertising offering completes a festive picture with some crackers and not a few turkeys.
Anybody enjoying even a passing flirtation with Twitter will have been aware last week that the John Lewis Christmas TV advert was garnering praise and generating tears in almost equal measure. It’s hard to watch this one without welling up and even the misuse of a Morrisey great doesn’t matter - so carefully are our emotions played with and whoever the kid is, he deserves an Oscar.
And if you were asked to analyse why this is quite so affecting the answer’s simple, this is a one minute thirty second short story. ‘Twas the night before Christmas’…and there was not a product in sight, not a price to be seen…and no, not even a mouse. Isn’t this what Christmas is all about and aren’t you grateful to John Lewis for keeping faith with what is meant by the season of goodwill?
Fans of A Christmas Carol will understand what is going on and when it comes to choosing where to shop, this is an advert that will be remembered, in spite of the fact that you may have absolutely no idea what the John Lewis festive offerings consist of. It’s enough to know that they have “gifts” and, if you’re lucky, one of them could be yours, or you can enjoy treating someone else.
Contrast this with Littlewoods.com, which also uses children, this time in a pantomime. The ad starts with a child singing “Who put an x-box under the tree” and goes on and on with more and more children noting the stuff that has been ‘given’ in a splurge of consumerist fervour that makes you wish that Christmas would just come and go. The ad may list things that people want - but isn’t it better to have a little mystery about the whole thing?
In between these two extremes, there is Freddie Flintoff and Sir Brucie advertising Morrisons (mildly amusing) and Boots revisiting its “Here come the girls” campaign.
Which brings us to Sainsbury’s and Jamie O’s swansong with the retailer. It’s a good ad, even if the George Fornbyesque soundtrack is a mite irritating. Once more, there is no mention of price and it’s all about tradition and generosity - just like John Lewis. This works and all of it without recourse to some X-Factor b-listers. Hard sell is one thing, but Christmas is another and if the Twitter noise is anything to go by Sainsbury’s and John Lewis will do well in the run-up to the big day.