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Will those festive TV ads achieve anything?

Of course, I could be turning into a grumpy old man (turning?), but it’s beginning to feel like there are too many Christmas TV ads to be distinctive (remember when it just used to be Woolworths?). It’s difficult to differentiate when everyone is doing roughly the same thing and my hunch is that millions are being spent on activity which will achieve very little.

So it was with a jaundiced eye that I reviewed this year’s crop of retailer commercials for The Grocer. In a surprising division of the discounters, Lidl came top and Aldi came bottom, with everyone else sandwiched in between. Here are a few of my subjective, edited, thoughts:

Lidl (9/10): Here the entirely naturalistic, deadpan Norfolk delivery works a treat. I would even consider buying a Lidl turkey as a result. (‘Consider’, note, not actually buy).


Waitrose (8/10): Who’d be a robin eh? Having endured one of the most miserable homeward journeys possible, all you get is a peck on the beak and a Waitrose mince pie. But then perhaps Christmas is all about travel chaos and crushing disappointment. Fabulous filming.

Tesco (8/10): Ruth Jones’ beautifully written internal monologue will chime with many a shopper forced to endure Slade in-store in early November, and turns neatly from festive cynicism to anticipated pleasure. Even the intensely annoying Ben Miller isn’t given enough time on screen to overact and bugger up the mood.

Sainsbury’s (7/10): Surprisingly, it’s a paean to anti-capitalism, encouraging us all to reject the commercialism of Christmas because “the greatest gift I can give is me.” If it means we can avoid Sainsbury’s for the entire festive season, then it’s a winner.

Morrisons (6/10): At least this is executed with a dash of wit and some visual appeal. While the tagline absurdly over-claims – ‘Morrisons Makes Christmas’? Of course it doesn’t, it’s only a shop – the Trivial Pursuit theme and the family engagement is nicely paced and played.

M&S (5/10): The filmmaking is beautiful, with the added bonus of casting Jeremy Corbyn (have another look) as Santa and Theresa May as his wife. But the ‘story’ is entirely nonsensical and so archly contrived to deliver a tear-jerking finale that it rather loses impact.

Asda (4/10): Asda’s tribute to gluttony is as unrealistic as it is unappealing. Who are all these greedy people and why are they sitting too close together? Is the supposed ‘neverending table’ not big enough for them? There is nothing remotely engaging happening here.

Aldi (3/10): There are surely very few people who have any empathetic feelings at all towards carrots. They are inanimate, orange and hard. And the one that’s the ‘star’ of this terrible ad (christened Kevin in a gratuitous insult to Kevins everywhere) appears to be either stupid or suicidal. The overall effect is as appealing as a tinsel-wrapped reindeer turd.


Happy pre-Christmas viewing.