A Cinematic Christmas: It’s gone too far


CHRISTMAS adverts are becoming tiring now. They’re becoming more like short films than advertising products, and you can forget about capturing the ‘Christmas spirit’. That was lost long ago. Now the Church has got itself involved and it’s all getting a bit petty.

Arguably the most famous Christmas advert is the timeless Coca-Cola spot, featuring the iconic music alongside the red truck that now makes tours up and down the UK for the public to see in real life but recently, other retailers, companies and supermarkets have been trying their hand at creating the year’s best Christmas advert.

In recent times, John Lewis has probably trumped most other advertisements. Starting in 2010 with its ‘A Tribute to Givers’ ad, featuring a poignant cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’. The one-minute long spot pays homage to the actual process of giving gifts; from wrapping awkwardly shaped presents to hiding thoughtful surprises from loved ones.

It was maybe this advert that set the precedent; when Christmastime draws closer, people now wonder what type of spot the retailer, famous for its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ slogan, will produce.

2014’s effort sees Tom Odell’s music as the soundtrack to a young boy and his inseparable companion, Monty the Penguin. Monty and the young lad, on December 25, receive the ‘Christmas they’ve been dreaming of’, as another toy penguin joins the family. 20.4 million hits could be interpreted as saying this ad has been mighty successful.

However, this year, a supermarket has elbowed its way in and come out with an advert of its own that pulls at the heartstrings. In the year that marks 100 years since the First World War began, supermarket Sainsbury’s has released an advert in conjunction with The Royal British Legion to capture, in their words, ‘the spirit of giving’.

The ad, whose full-length version is three minutes and 40 seconds long, is based on the Christmas Day truce of 1914 in which guns were laid down, gifts were exchanged between enemy soldiers and probably the most famous game of football of all time was played.

Even though it is a fictional representation of events 100 years ago, and attempting to be as historically accurate as possible, the advert has come under fire from critics for being ‘disrespectful’. One critic in The Guardian said: “In making the first world war beautiful to flog groceries the film-makers have disrespected the millions who suffered in the trenches.” At the time of writing, this effort had around 14 million hits on YouTube.

The Church has even made a scathing attack at supermarket adverts as part of its ‘Christmas Starts With Christ’ campaign. On the campaign’s website, their effort, featuring a scene involving a young family with a new-born baby at Christmas converting into the Nativity, comes with the caption ‘Does Christmas start with a great advert?’ as well as a comment that says: “But it’s not celebrities singing about turkeys, nostalgic chocolate bars or happy penguins that lie at the heart of the season.”

The 45-second spot reportedly cost £10,000 as opposed to the probably far higher budgets of Sainsbury’s and John Lewis, and attempts to remind the public of the religious element behind the holidays. However, due to this ad only being released less than a week ago, it has only racked up 47,000 views on YouTube.

I don’t, and you probably shouldn’t, take it on face value. If it were merely the Church trying to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, then it would be fine. However, it is not. It is almost like a childish retaliation against the two retailers’ efforts to sell their products.

Christmas definitely does start with Christ; anyone who can spell knows that. I do understand the religious element behind the holidays. However, in 2014 it’s impossible to escape globalism, consumerism and the vast number of other -isms that exist to lure the money from our pockets.

In the battle of religion versus retailers, I’d like to take the middle ground. I’m neither for nor against religion, and I understand that we live in an ever-globalised world. I can hold my hand up and say the majority of adverts don’t work on me, including the three in this article. But making ostentatiously cinematic Christmas publicity and then having the Church of all institutions trying to poke fun at it is just silly.

Nowadays Christmas starts with C. C for corny. It also ends in S. S for silly. Give it a rest with the advertisements and lets eat, drink and be merry until January.


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