I’m not a Grinch, but this year’s Christmas ads are even more nauseating than usual. Talk about ticking boxes – John Lewis has a cute child, a trampolining boxer dog, loveable urban foxes, a squirrel and even a badger. In other words, it’s all gorgeous vermin that doesn’t poo or scavenge – just part of the modern “nativity” story, which is all about shifting stock rather than signing up souls. I prefer Aldi’s Kevin the carrot, the cheeky vegetable who stars in a video mocking their rival’s extravaganza, sitting in an old leather chair and hyperventilating with fake anticipation.
These costly Christmas advertisements have been dubbed “cultural events” but they shamelessly plunder real art, copy popular feature films and rewrite classic poetry as doggerel. They are a sad reflection on a society where shopping is now considered a worthwhile hobby like playing cricket, baking cakes or gardening.
There’s no denying the ads are popular: within 24 hours, the new John Lewis epic had been viewed over 1 million times on YouTube. The rot started with Monty the Penguin in 2014 – the ad cost John Lewis £7m and was viewed 23 million times. Sainsbury’s trumped that with Mog the forgetful cat, viewed an astonishing 26 million times in the same festive season.
Now people are worrying that Aldi’s talking vegetable Kevin is so loveable kids will stop eating carrots. Or perhaps they’ll have nightmares after watching the multi-coloured yetis in the Argos ad. There’s no doubt that retailers are facing a brutal few weeks ahead, as sales flatten and discounts abound – but online views don’t necessary translate into footfall or customer loyalty. Forget the squirrels and the talking carrot – send me a discount voucher.