Considering the fact that John Lewis only began advertising on television in 2007, it seems rather remarkable that their Christmas advert has come to signify the start of the festive season. The classic formula of an old song covered by a young new star is faultless in its ability to launch an unknown artists career and propel them into the charts. Even those who are already renowned in the music industry, such as Lily Allen and Ellie Goulding, have benefitted from their feature in John Lewis’ festive campaign. This years cover of a lesser known John Lennon song by Hanson look alike Tom Odell is the first male vocal to feature since Fyfe Dangerfield covered She’s Always A Woman back in 2009. The melodic song has been called ‘over-sentimental’, but I think it is perfectly in keeping with the tagline give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of. The excessive 7 million pounds spent on last years campaign was hit with a wave of criticism and as a result they’ve reverted to the tried and tested recipe of a young boy counting down to December 25th with his toy penguin in this inevitable tearjerker.
Marks and Spencer have avoided its typical use of celebrities in this years campaign and instead told the story of do-good fairies, making Christmas wishes come true. The musical accompaniment is a 1991 cover of Fly Me To The Moon by Julie London, which however lovely, does little to make up for the rather tacky and unoriginal advert.
Musically Burberry is onto a winner this year with Ed Harcourt’s powerfully emotive The Way That I Live accompanying the young, yet already ridiculously handsome (is that weird?), Romeo Beckham and a host of other beautiful models. For me this track is perhaps the best of the bunch and the advert itself is arguably the most effective at getting the brand across with a plethora of covet-worthy Burberry trenches, scarves and umbrellas.
Sainsbury’s have taken the centennial occasion, and, endorsed by the Royal British Legion, moved in a far more poignant direction. Carter Burwell complements the heart-warming account of a World War I Christmas day truce with the understated and beautiful track The Wicked Flee. With some impressive cinematography, the advert has been received with a myriad of criticism, branding it exploitative and insensitive when the ultimate aim for this consumer giant is to persuade the public to buy their tinsel. I would argue, however, that this retelling of a familiar story looks first and foremost at the real meaning of Christmas, and in its lack of commercialisation you almost forget that there is a brand behind it.