Advertising: Jamie's wasted in Sainsbury's turkey of a Christmas ad

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The Independent Online

Advertisers go soft in the head at Christmas. Even good ones who've worked hard at branding all year round, building a distinctive position and a recognisable look, go generic. Presents for all the family is one line, our very own Christmas party is the other.

Which is why Jamie Oliver's in his kitchen, lining up a table full of what looks more like Marguerite Patten's Fifties favourites than anything from his latest restaurant, Fifteen. "Clementine buck's fizz," he says. "Christmas in a glass." But - and here's the hideous hybrid bit - he's got a Christmas fairy to fix it for him. So Jamie's hard-won brand personality gets compromised by a device out of the props box.

She's a silly fairy too; when she opens all the Sainsbury's champagne bottles, the flying corks bring down the chandelier on to Jamie's big spread. So she's off to Sainsbury's.

Then we're into a dreamy 20-second infomercial about Sainsbury's new Delicious Occasions range of party food - camera panning down shelves, mid-range RP voiceover. And then back to Jamie's kitchen, where the table's redeemed by what looks like baby pork pies and mini Scotch eggs. And presumably some kind of smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade thing.

Next he's at the door, where a large family of Essexy people are expecting their Christmas party. It's the Olivers (or maybe not; we all want to know, of course). Around this point, Jamie's squarely in shot, and rather dramatically lit for a moment. It has to be said, he looks a little like Brad Pitt or, more realistically, Duncan from Blue. So what's been going on here? Has he lost two stone, had something done or what?

The Oliver family get their supper; Sainsbury's launch their new sub-brand; Jamie collects this year's fee. But there's no soft reggae, no gang of lads, no loft-style kitchen, no food-action shots, no scootering about in an establishing location. None of Jamie's stations of the crossover.

It's a Christmas mess, a sloppy pudding, a flabby turkey, compared with the original work. It could have been an opportunity to show cleverer Christmas food, something outside the familiar repertoire, which is in any case hugely price competitive (Jamie's Farmers' Market range, Jamie's Alternative Christmas Party, you can make them up for yourself). They could have tried something for that younger demographic and, with Jamie, they might just have pulled it off.