For me the start of the festive season is not marked by the start of Advent, the window displays or even by how early URB decides to play Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas. No, for me it is the arrival of John Lewis’ Christmas Advert – not because I like them, no, but because from that point onwards it almost becomes impossible not to talk about it, see it, breathe it, live it. So, I may as well give in from November 1st when it normally comes out. To save yourselves from the anguish of watching all of them this year, liking some and downright hating others, I’ve watched them all (that were currently out at the time of writing), and have ranked them so you don’t have to!
Disney’s The Stepdad:
I didn’t know what to think about this one for about the first 30 seconds, until the soothing voice of Gregory Porter came on with a well-crafted song that seemed to describe the story of Nicole (the girl from last year’s advert), her two children and their new stepdad Mike. The story follows them as they prepare for Christmas, centred around a story book from Max’s (the boy child) birth father, with well-placed product placements of Disney’s multiple Trademark characters.
It is a bit long and doesn’t make complete sense if you haven’t watched last years’ advert, but it does have a good message and doesn’t shove any annoying songs down your throat or make too many tasteless references to Frozen.
M&S’s Percy Pig:
Unlike the Disney advert where you have no clue what the names of these people are, Marks and Spencer doesn’t waste any time. They start with the credits, plastering Tom Holland’s name front and centre within the opening seconds of the clip. A fairy with an acute resemblance to Dawn French then falls from a tree bringing to life a pig (Tom Holland). Dawn French then takes him around the shop looking at different food items, they showcase products (which is rare in adverts these days) before then panning out with the pig running around and the classic line ‘it’s not just Christmas food – it’s M&S Christmas food’.
Short and sweet, does what a commercial advert should do. 9/10
Sports Direct really delivered on the sports side of things with the amount of England footballers and sportspeople they could fit in a one-minute video, for that they are commended. With the likes of Jordan Pickford and Jack Grealish making an appearance and tennis Pro Emma Raducanu, it earns at least 7 points just for that. The added jokes with Big Narstie also just make it a funny, not so serious, advert just about having a good time and going all out.
I liked this one even if I’m not the biggest football fan. 8/10
As a student with a pre-disposed penchant for their bakery and continental weeks, this is a classic advert that really does tick all the boxes for me. Classic music and Christmas meal with the family while some of the shop’s produce is showcased, sporting Lidl-branded knitwear. The day then repeats itself as the family gets older, however stays true to its timeless traditions, each with the new iteration advertising new products from their Christmas range.
On its own a classic advert that can’t really be faulted, made even better by the Lidl brand jumper that will no doubt be sold out the day they are released.
I’d happily stick by this rating. 10/10
TK Maxx’s Christmas for the Maxx:
If it wasn’t for the sign that said Festive Comeback Concert or the not so abundant decorations in the hall, until the last 10 seconds of this advert you would have a hard time realising it was for Christmas. The story follows boy Laurie at his local festive concert, he plays the organ (how Christmassy), but can’t seem to remember how to play. He then looks at his shoes and somehow their magic properties remind him he can play the piano, and with his feet nonetheless. A Rocket Man-esque scene ensues as Laurie starts to float above the organ and play it with his feet. They did add in some sleigh bells at the end though so got to give them it where it is due.
As a pianist myself, I have always disliked unrealistic representations of musicianship on television, and no matter how magical these shows Laurie’s Dad makes them out to be, there’s no way he’s playing four notes at a time with shoes.
Boots Christmas Advert:
Boots’ story this year is of Joy (played by the always beautiful and amazing Jenna Coleman) who is given a Mary Poppins-type bag by her nan that is supposedly bottomless and can give you any present you desire. A clever way of demonstrating the variety of Boots’ Christmas catalogue, the story showcases Joy pulling out a bag, camera, pram, perfume, and decorations, amongst other things. The story then concludes with her giving perfume to her nan. Wholesome.
Whilst it does have a good message, in parts, I don’t know what seems more unrealistic… the fact a 20-something-year-old can live in a central London townhouse of that size, seems to go out all the time, and doesn’t have a job… or that she has a magic present bag.
Nice but not overly hyped for this one. 7/10
It was over before I could really assess what was going on. All I really got from it was that there was some guy dressed up in a tree costume rattling off different presents and who they were for, whilst the host of what looked like a low budget 80s game show swore with half of her lines having to be bleeped out.
Like this review, nice and short. Refreshing that it was done in less than a minute. 6.5/10
A classic Christmas story, a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with the normal characters played by Kevin the Carrot and Ebanana Scrooge. The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York accompanies them throughout a speed-run of the story, whilst some foodstuffs are advertised. Pretty standard but nonetheless a Christmassy vibe made even better by the fact that Colin the Caterpillar is getting arrested in the opening scene. Classic.
Just for the Colin scene alone it scores a solid… 8/10
A very John Lewissy advert if there was such a thing. The ‘visitor from another world’ theme worked for them a couple of years ago and I think since then just a rehashed version of something similar has been produced nearly every year. Two people meet, they then form an inseparable bond over something, then one of them leaves. Sad. They did it first with that dude on the moon with the telescope, then the dragon and now an alien.
They always seem to have a popular song that people like and make no attempt until the last five seconds to tell you what shop it is for. Classic. Unfortunately, it seems that this year the John Lewis Advert craze is waning, not really producing anything that is that new or different, it seems unlikely to me that it will be as well received as its predecessors.
Liked the song but everything else just felt a bit ‘meh’. 4/10