Spooner Creative

The Lovin’ Spoonful 35

Spooner on: all the xmas ads 2019

Spooner Creative

It is that time of year again. A heavy, all but palpable, sense of doom hangs over the neatly appointed holding-pens where Lord McKelvey’s handsome Gressingham Ducks, his sleek Lancing Geese and his magnificent Broad-Breasted Bronze Turkeys converse and squabble.

Soon it will be time for them to die.

Soon it will be time for all of us to vote, like them, for the new Xmas Government we all half-knowingly fear and dread.

But away with gloom! Away with care! On with the Xmas Motley, the capering, the cap, the bells! Let the merry Xmas japes and pranks begin with an astonishing twenty-five examples of what the UK Advertising Industry believes to be its finest Xmas commercials.

You can find them all here

God give me strength now.


The Decision Marketing Xmas Telly Ad Review




What Spooner Thinks

Xmas Rating




‘Delivering Christmas’


CM to find out

Time travelling Tesco delivery van visits key moments in UK history delivering Xmas cheer. ‘What the Dickens!?’ exclaims our heroic driver as his van is surrounded by cheerful ‘Twisty’ urchins. Contains the most appalling and scenario imaginable as scally in bucket-hat at rave, gurning and, presumably, dry-mouthed. enthuses over a Tesco pork-pie.

Every point on the planner’s brief ticked off in a blizzard of stomach-turning cod-nostalgia that concludes in driver’s unlikely return to an agreeable suburban villa manifestly unaffordable on his zero-hours contract. This is only the first and I have lost the will to carry on.


Three puddings from a possible ten.


2. Homebase


‘Monster Fairy’


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‘Adorable child’ makes grotesque fairy from bog-roll to horror of prim Mama, who utilises Homebase Xmas Tree USP revolving base to consign it to tree-reverse oblivion.


I am getting nothing here other than an attempt to be (dread word) ‘relatable’. Honestly, who signed this off?


One candy-cane from a possible ten.


3. Boden


‘The Real Spirit of Christmas’


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Does one immediately think of Boden as a champion and staunch defender of the NHS?

I thought not.


Admirable though the platform it offers to over-worked medical personnel may be, genuinely welcome though the makeovers, food and (especially) booze proffered must have been, the result is an excruciatingly patronising smug-fest of barbaric insensitivity only receiving any marks at all in sympathy for the real lives of its participants.



One holey stocking from a possible ten.


4. John Lewis


“Excitable Edgar’



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I was in the queue at Waitrose when I first saw the hideous, overpriced, plushy toy dragon, the sale of which can be the only point of this over-produced abomination of a commercial.


Why medieval? Why melting and incinerating Xmas shizzle? Why the titanically feeble pay-off of a lit Xmas pudding? Why? Why? Why?


This is only getting points because of the charmingly natural performance by the small heroine who reminded me of my daughter.



Two sticky sugar mice covered in fluff from a possible ten.


5. Debenhams


‘Hard To Buy For’



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Apparently this stars ‘celebrity’ Fleur East.


Me neither.


Snappy, poppy, bright, glittery, tinselly, cheap, gifts that scrape the Debenhams Xmas barrel of overpriced tat are randomly apportioned to a diversity of stereotypes turning those frowns up-side-down. Everybody dances. Including an Airedale Terrier. Perhaps that is Fleur.



Half of a decaying tangerine from the toe-end of an old rugby sock – out of a possible ten.


6. Burberry


‘What Is Love?’


CM to find out


Right. There’s always one completely bonkers one…

Carla Bruni, inevitably looking mature yet fruity and a baffled, uncomfortable-looking Ruben Loftus-Cheek, his eyes wide with fear, share an infinity-sweep set with an angel and the oddest-looking Mr-Tumnus-The-Faun ever to escape Narnia – as well as dozens of those exquisitely beautiful yet slightly deformed looking people who specialise in ‘fashion modelling’.


They jiggle about



Two cracked and dusty brown, red, black and white plaid baubles lost for years in the attic – out of a possible ten.



7. Sainsbury’s


‘Nicholas The Sweep’



CM to find out


Hmm. This is ‘meta’. I must confess to quite liking it. Damn. What IS the matter with me?


So, forget the ‘real’ Saint Nicholas (a baffled Palestinian press-ganged into Imperial Roman Service in Syria in the 4th Century AD), Sainsbury’s, in celebraton of 150 years in the High Street, have come up with that classic trope of the super-hero movie; the ORIGIN STORY. It is all done with great attention to detail and the casting is assured.


It is 1869 and framed for a fruit-theft actually committed by his Fagin-ey slave-master, Nicholas the chimney-sweep is rescued by a frankly gorgeous and noble ‘Mrs Sainsbury’ and resolves to invent the idea of giving each other presents at Xmas ever after, or something. Bear with me here, the production values and knowing humour lead naturally to the (spoiler alert) final cape and hat reveal, which possesses all of the spurious life-affirming uplift of your average Marvel franchise hit.



Six misapplied cotton-wool beards from a possible ten!


8. Zalando


‘Free To Be’



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There is something very honourable but also slightly disturbing about the gerontophile (Hey! Whatever floats your boat!) under/overtones of this stylish commercial for an ‘online retailer’ where a geeky-yet-charming young fellow takes his ‘grandmother’ to the dance.


Excellent soundtrack from that T-Rex playing ‘Cosmic Dancer’, mind. Also, the thing may have achieved its objective as I have now heard of ‘Zalando’.



Four Turkey Twizzlers from a possible ten.


9. Joules


‘Christmas At The Click Of A Button’


CM to find out


For the love of Satan how much did this cost?

I once posited using Aardman for a TV commercial for a famous children’s charity and even with their generous discount for a good cause, the net cost would have been quintuple the budget, so how ‘Joules’ have afforded this I can’t imagine.

As with everything Aardman, this is slick, neat, possessed of some charm and somehow universal - while remaining quintessentially English. Even the product placement is executed with a little grace, which is saying a great deal in these dark days. Also, the thing may have achieved its objective as I have now heard of ‘Joules’.



An astonishing five Wensleydales from a possible ten.


10. Amazon


‘Holiday 2019’



CM to find out


Usually with the Decision Marketing Xmas TV Ad Review I am able to call out crass, sentimental hypocrisy without compunction, but Amazon presents an unpronounceable shibboleth for me, in that I despise the organisation – but, like so many, cannot stop using their services.


I deserve to be the pig in a particularly hot, fatty blanket for my sins.

Anyway, I can only assume that this execrable torrent of platitudinous slime is designed for ‘the global market’ – and that the PRS will be put to good use by an ageing R&B performer. Were I not awaiting my children’s Xmas presents I might express myself more forcefully.



No presents under the tree.


JD Sports


‘Come Alive’


CM to find out


“The retailer’s advert features a host of celebrities and athletes to promote its range of products available for the festive season.”, it says here. 


I am assuming that un-ossified individuals may know who some of these people are.


Telly advertising by numbers.


See Amazon review above.



One dreary Boxing Day Fixture out of a possible ten.


12. Argos


‘The Book Of Dreams’


CM to find out


My cousin Alwyn who was a Welsh Chapel Minister might have had something to say about the Argos Catalogue describing itself as ‘The Book Of Dreams’, it being a compendious list of all the philistine gimcrackery and gew-gaws without which our fallen society feels empty in these post-lapsarian times BUT at least there is some energy in this and splendid performances from the small drummer person <insert name here> and her stage dad. Also proof that eventually even the most otiose of ‘pop groups’ will have their time again.


Incidentally, a friend once worked on a Spanish tour with Simple Minds and tells me that Jim Kerr was delighted that the Galician road crew had nicknamed him “Juan’. He just didn’t get it poor lamb.



Three Chicken Drumsticks out of a possible ten.



13. Boots


“Inroducing Bootiques by Boots’



CM to find out


I wonder if anyone will ever use this advertisement’s hashtag: #GiftLikeYouGetThem ? I wonder…

This all hangs from the hoary premise that it is difficult to choose a Xmas present for other people – and suggests that the solution is some kind of Department Store redux operating under the Boots umbrella.

It filled me with existential dread. It may fill you with existential dread. Do we even believe in the concept of ‘other minds’ and given that we do, in what sense can those ‘other minds’ ever be ‘knowable’. Boots is, of course now an American company and it shows.



One elderly Thanksgiving Turkey passed off as a Xmas treat out of a possible ten.


14. Selfridges


‘Future Fantasy’



CM to find out


‘Who shall we get to be the face of the Xmas advertisement this year?’, someone in a meeting must have said, ‘We need someone, you know, fresh, fashionable, Charlize Therony, gender-fluid, taut, omnispectric! Someone NOW! But who won’t alienate any of our traditional core audience… Hmm…’

‘I’ve got it!’ Who? Who?!?’ ‘Noomi Rapace of course!’ ‘You mean the one who performs a robot/alien abortion on herself in the film ‘Prometheus’ and who savagely murders all those sexist capitalist men in ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’?”





Incomprehensible with hybrid poetry–rap.



Two cold Bleak Midwinter Agit-prop mini-sausages out of a possible ten.


15. Barbour


‘125 Years Of Blooming Barbour”


CM to find out


Buying a Barbour Jacket will fiscally cripple you and mean that you self-identify with some of the most appalling people in the country, but don’t worry as it will last for ever!


I hope Raymond Briggs a) made a lot of money out of this and b) has not seen the shoddy animation. Also, this is set in1894, 1930, 1960 and the present day. Who is the Xmassy woman in the photograph? Santa’s mother? His wife? His sister? And where is she now? Is she dead? Does the immortality gene pass only through the male Santa line?

My advice would be to buy a Belstaff.



One elderly snowman floating in the air out of a possible ten.


16. ASDA


‘Let’s Make Christmas Extra Special’



CM to find out


So we are ‘Up North’ we know this from the streetscape and the fact that the Aurora Borealis is clearly visible (we must be considerably further ‘Up North’ than, say Halifax). And ‘Up North’ is more authentic as we know. Xmas is coming. Grandpa is dead. Smart, independent, quasi-genius female child constructs some kind of Heath Robinson, steam-punk Northern Lights Catcher out of bits and bobs, harvests the magic of the celestial lightshow and uses it to turn people into Xmassy objects and to animate the inanimate in a festive extravaganza, which is frankly quite disturbing. Sadly her magic oofle dust runs out before she can ‘do’ her own home and she goes to bed disconsolate. Luckily sensitive, caring older brother has the nous to get more angel-crack, sprinkles it in her bedroom and creates SNOW. I think that’s about it. A touching hallucination of love, loss and the power of Xmas. It did not make me feel sick. Excellent! Philip Pullman should sue.



SEVEN amber spyglasses out of a possible ten.


17. Aldi


‘Leafy Blinders’


CM to find out


Apparently there have been Kevin The Karrot riots in Aldi stores the length of the land.


I’m just leaving that there.


Robbie Williams’s Kevin The Karrot, channeling Huge Jackman’s ‘The Greatest Showman’ clashes with a sprout, channeling Cilian Murphy’s Peaky Blinder. Mayhem ensues. What makes this twaddle interesting however is the glowing centerpiece Xmas lunch, which could have been shot in the 80s and is the oddest aspect of the commercial.


These reviews point up what Foucault calls ‘the dissonance between the real and the desired’. How real is Xmas? How real are our aspirations? Where on earth is Little Baby Jee? Onward!!



Four phlegmy dollops of bread sauce out of a possible ten.


18. TK Maxx


‘Gift Different’



CM to find out


‘Gift different’, ‘future-proof your now’, ‘start your impossible’, ‘unlimit the more’, these are all real advertising lines in real advertisements.


I can only hope that TK Maxx’s ‘Gift different’ is as tongue-in-cheek as the rest of this ‘jaunty’ commercial and is a pastiche of the current trend in grammar-mangling, gnomic cockwomblery that pervades the industry.


Bastard son of Hotels.com’s Captain Obvious has fun on the ski-slopes presenting desperate re-seller as the best place to look for a present that will startle.


I quite enjoyed this and would like some of whatever the copywriter was taking on board when he capped the ad with ‘ridiculously oooooh gifts at ridiculously woo hoo prices’.


Five failing fairy lights out of a possible ten.


19. Very


‘Get More Out Of Giving’


CM to find out


As an elderly man with recurrent mental health issues, living alone, I wonder what my reaction would be if my neighbours got together to give me a charming Xmas in a box?


That is the story of this sleekly animated commercial for the consistently high-spending online retailer.


I think it would have been more fun if the doddering recluse had reacted in either of the ways I imagine that I might have done:


a) precipitate weeping breakdown
b) extreme violence


This might perhaps have narrowed the target demographic.



Four strands of tangled tinsel out of a possible ten.


20. Iceland





CM to find out


Well, the Marketing Director of Iceland must have felt as if all of his Xmases had come at once, as it were, when the sisterhood-empowering, wintery, ankle-biter’s delight ‘Frozen’ launched its sequel just in time for this year’s marketing push.


Sadly the review of this tired commercial matches those of the film itself: it is tired, derivative and dull and will not push out many prawn rings. Surely they could have done something with Kerry Katona’s preferred white powder?



One badly defrosted, tooth breaking, miniature mince pie out of a possible ten.


21. Not On The High Street


‘Happines is…’


CM to find out


I shall reproduce my notes verbatim here:


Politically correct.
Mad grading.
I give up.



One disappointing plastic stocking-filler out of a possible ten.



22. Lidl


‘A Xmas You Can Believe In’



CM to find out


There is something very odd about this extremely conventional commercial showing families preparing for and enjoying their Xmas. It’s as if the soul has been scooped out of it like the congealed stuffing from the golden, glistening turkey. It’s as if all of the crucial signifiers are present only to distract from the emptiness behind the eyes of its protagonists. After twenty-two commercials, I now begin to fear for my sanity.



Two squashed loganberries out of a possible ten.


23. Ikea


‘Silence The Critics’


CM to find out


One has high expectations of the Swedish Flatpackers; they have produced interesting films in the past and this, though heavy on the product placement is as oddly engaging as previous efforts. I was very fond of the cat one, yes.

The weird premise of this seems to be that your ornaments are judging you and that the only way to satisfy them is to buy lots of things from Ikea.


Lets face it, after a long difficult evening with @DM_editor, I have often felt the same. Naturally, given the high visual standards of the brand, by the end of the add the various knick-knacks and tschotschkes are satisfied and silenced.


If only a visit to Ikea was all it took to quieten *MY* talking ornaments.



Six (6!) meatballs with lingonberry sauce out of a possible ten


24. M&S Food


“This Is Not Just Food…’



CM to find out


Oh god. Strange woman off the telly with irritating man off the telly wander around an M&S Xmas Market eating things while serenaded by a school choir. Some classy product shots, as you’d expect.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got.



Three (I was hungry when I watched it) luxury eighteen-month aged Xmas puddings out of a possible ten.



25. M&S Clothing and Home


‘Go Jumper’



Well, this is it, I have crawled, smothered in silly-string and reeking of brandy over the Xmas finishing line and what better way to finish than with this Xmas atrocity:


In 1993 DJ Muggs from the excellent Cypress Hill was persuaded to work with LA’s Taft High School Hip Hop luminaries House Of Pain on what I am told is ‘the classic banger’, ‘Jump Around’.


Little did he suspect that some 26 years later an ‘advertising creative’ would say to him or herself:


“M&S? Jumpers??

Xmas Jumpers???




There are some nice people dancing as if possessed by their M&S Xmas jumpers.


I hope that Mr Muggs’s PRS cheque is some consolation to him.



A three-pack of snugly-fitting expandable knickers out of a possible ten.


It was interesting from an anthropological or sociological point of view to see how desperately advertisers want Xmas to be REAL. They ACHE for it to be real. They assume that we are all searching desperately for a REAL Xmas.

Yet, paradoxically, a REAL Xmas is a MAGICAL Xmas. (Hence the preponderance of animation, spanning this divide as it does.)

In fact, what our brands and advertisers seem to be looking for is ‘REAL MAGIC’ a true Xmas Oxymoron, if ever there was one.

There was, with the exception of Iceland and Joules very little in the way of what Lucian Camp used to excoriate as ‘borrowed interest’. Our advertisers’ search for REAL MAGIC seems to preclude being ‘spoken for’.

There were, too, fewer ‘celebrities’ than in 2018, though that is not to say that there weren’t plenty.

I was also delighted to see very little in the way of overt sexism - with very few womenfolk there just to be ogled at, and very few capable or, indeed, incapable menfolk, though, naturally, gender stereotypes abounded. What’s more, refreshingly, when it came to children, the girls seemed to be active instigators and the boys sensitive and gentle.

Perhaps there is hope after all.

And remember! Decision Marketing reviewed these advertisements so that you can fast-forward through them with impunity.

I must go and lie down in a darkened room now with a slim volume of verse and some mint imperials, until Boxing day dawns.

Don’t forget to vote.

Merry Xmas one and all!!!