You’ve possibly not bought that first box of mince pies or even considered digging out the baubles, but, from early November, they’re here; the Christmas adverts. In this world of instant streaming, adverts usually cause an impatient groan from the nation, so, why do we go out of our way to view these festive ads? Love them or hate them, they are influential, and a huge part of seasonal small talk. And I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather chat about the newly released ads than the fact that, “yes, the nights do get dark more quickly now”, or the results of a certain election. In these times of covid, I don’t mind the commercialised emotion bringing some brightness to those dark nights, through the television screen.
There are certainly adverts from Christmases past which we all look back on with fondness. For me, I loved John Lewis’s 2013 offering, featuring the bear and the hare, accompanied by the beautifully melancholic, ‘Somewhere Only We Know’. The ad forgoes showcasing John Lewis products so that the message of ‘Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget’ can take centre stage. The hare’s creative and thoughtful gift of an alarm clock allows him to spend Christmas with his hibernating friend, which demonstrates that to create an unforgettable Christmas, fancy presents aren’t necessary. Being thoughtful towards the people you love, and that love you, is what matters. It’ll take a little creativity, akin to the hare’s, to bring people together this year, but with some out-of-the box thinking and a little Christmas magic, we can do it.
Another classic has to be Irn Bru’s Snowman ad. Despite your thoughts on the drink itself – godly nectar or orange muck, it doesn’t matter – the festive season cannot commence until you’ve seen the greedy little boy plonked into the snow from a great height. Again, the brand and their products aren’t what really stand out from the advert. Obviously, yes, the Irn Bru is shown to be so delicious that it causes a mid-air conflict, but it’s the comedy which shines through. Between the animation and the amended lyrics, the whole thing strikes a beautiful balance between art and patter; something which Scotland has in abundance year-round. It’s the skill which went into the ad’s concept and execution, all tied up with a satirical bow that, I think, resonates with the Scottish public. We think that it’s funny and we’re glad that it’s Scottish; in that way, it brings all us together. Plus, we’ve all tried to hit the impossibly high notes after one *ahem* Bru too many at the work Christmas party…
The Christmas adverts of 2020, just like everything else this year, have had to take a different approach from the norm to convey an appropriately covid-friendly message. To show scenes of an ordinary big, bustling Christmas, inviting the neighbours, the in-laws and old friends round for a mince pie would be not only inappropriate, but a dangerous suggestion this year. So, many adverts convey Christmas spirit with a difference; an abundance of love and kind gestures with a lack of physical presence.
Disney’s cute advertisement depicts the importance of spending time with the ones you love and, essentially, realising the impact which your actions have on those around you. The woman and her grandmother making lanterns together is a shared experience which clearly means something to them both. Again, it’s not flash, expensive gifts which are important, but rather the choice to dedicate your time to one another. Similarly, John Lewis’s ‘Give a Little Love’ advert shows the knock-on effect of thoughtful acts. Little acts of kindness roll throughout the entire advert, symbolised through the heart motif. Clearly, the heart is a metaphor for love and care, but the fact that many of these gestures are extended to strangers highlights the importance of generous actions towards everyone, not just your immediate circle.
The idea of community spirit is also utilised in Amazon’s advert, which is very obviously covid-orientated, yet manages to remain beautifully poignant, rather than clinical, in its seriousness. The efforts of each protagonist combine to allow both the individual dancer and the community to enjoy the result of kind behaviour, as it showcases the uplifting impact of thoughtful gestures in these unpredictable times. The whole advert shows sensitivity, grace and selflessness, which are not things I’d associate with Amazon, honestly. Your local shops will sell torches, just like they will sell many other items perfect for Christmas gifts. So, please, do what is suggested in the advert, and bring brightness to your local community. Shop small, shop local and make a difference to independent businesses. Afterall, your shopping might just fund the dance lessons for another passionate child.
This year’s adverts have brought a little joy to not only the Winter darkness, but also the dark year of 2020. They’re a reminder that the fundamentals of the Christmas spirit can remain whilst we’re distanced, and that the distance which little acts of love can go, is immeasurable.
[Laura MacDonald – she/her – @laurzzs]
[Image Credit: Ylanite Koppens]