It is perhaps no co-incidence that the main image on this page today is from (last year's) Xmas Poster for Jean-Paul Gaultier perfumes. Like the much maligned genre of perfume commercials, which do, however, boast some spectacular execptions such as the Kenzo spot that won last year's Cannes Film Grand Prix, Xmas spots of which there are more and more every year trade with something rather untangible and are all about feelings and aim to put the consumer in a festive mood. Unlike perfume advertising, however, over the past 20 year they've become increasingly popular with the public and the release of many of them is greeted with the kind of anticipation that 20 to 30 years ago seemed reserved to the release of a new Levi's commercial by Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Especially in the UK and US, but also in Germany, there are more and more Xmas spots – especallly for retailers, i.e. supermarkets and department stores that battle it out for the approval of the consumer. Just yesterday, Kate Brown, our invaluable contact and representative of Lürzer's Archive for the UK market, sounding as baffled and bewildered as you can on Skype, wrote to me re Xmas spots that "there seemed so many this year here in UK and still new ones appearing on TV every day."
So, to counter these rather inflationary output of ads created to bolster your festive mood, I decided to present to you just a selection of those that struck a particular chord with us at the offices of Archive. According to various sources in the UK this year's big winner in the consumers' favor was the latest in a long tradition of sensationally successful Xmas spots, naemly the one for retailer John Lewis department stores featuring none other than Elton John. It opens on Elton John sitting at the piano playing the first few bars of his classic “Your Song,“ this commercial continues by whisking us back to major moments in Elton’s career, going from school performances and gigs at local pubs to stadium shows in the 1970s. One flashback even takes us back to when John was just a little boy and given his very first piano for Christmas. Pay-off: “Some gifts are more than just a gift.” (Note: From what I heard John Lewis do not even sell pianos.)
"The Boy and The Piano" Client: John Lewis. Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB, London. Creative Directors: Mike Sutherland, Ant Nelson, Richard Brim. Art Director: Ant Nelson. Copywriter: Mike Sutherland. Director: Sed Edwards. Production Company: Academy Films.
Another hugely popular commercial in the UK this year was a continuation of the campaign for Heathrow for which Doris and Edward Bair, Heathrow’s cutest mascots, have been brought back, starring alongside one another in their third Christmas campaign for the UK’s biggest airport. The spot opens on Edward enjoying his retirement out in the Florida sunshine – before being interrupted by carols reminding him that he and the wife miss their family back home. They therefore decide to rush to the airport to join their family in time for Christmas. A commercial playing to Paul Young's 80s classic “Every Time You Go Away.”
"Making it Home Makes it Christmas" Client: Heathrow Airport. Ad Agency: Havas Worldwide, London. Creative Directors: Ben Mooge, Lynsey Atkin. Copywriter: Lynsey Atkin. Director: Dom & Nic. Production Company: Outsider.
In an amusingly self-deprecating move that makes good use of the Elton John saga's popularity - as well as the original material already shot , the same agency, adam&eveDDB, London, came up with a commercial for the Waitrose chain of supermarkets that features a speeded-up version of the above-mentioned John Lewis spot. Here, a girl is keen to shows her parents the John Lewis commercial, though they – evidently somewhat underwhelmed - fast forward to get it over with as quickly as possible in order to finally go and tuck into their Waitrose-bought stollen.
"Fast Forward" Client: Waitrose & Partners. Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB, London CD: Richard Brim ADs: Fergal Balance Patrick McClelland CWs: Zoe Nash Sali Horsey Director: James Rouse Production Company: Outsider
French advertising is represented in our selection with a lovely commercial for Bouygues Telecom. Opening on a guy dancing, rather embarrassingly, in front of his baby boy to the strains of Redbone’s "Come And Get Your Love," the spot invites us to follow the story of father and son and see how, over time, the "dancing dad routine" is performed to increasingly mixed reception from the son's part but is finally met with the greatest appreciation - to the point of the son performing the exact same dance routine while cradling his own kid. This he shows his dad through a video call made on a brand-new Bouygues phone that he hid under the Christmas tree.
"An Unforgettable Christmas" Client: Bouygues Telecom. Ad Agency: BETC, Paris. Creative Director: Stéphane Xiberras. Art Director: Rayhaan Khodabux. Copywriter: Rémi Campet. Director: Martin Werner. Production Company: HENRY.
This year's most heart-wrenching Xmas-themed spot also comes from the same agency that has been spreading such Xmas cheer with John Lewis and Waitrose. Not so in their offering courtesy of the Red Cross. In this commercial we see Santa bewilderedly stumbling around in a bombed-out warzone, clearly distressed by what is happening all around him and not knowing which way to turn first. After climbing the stairs in a building from which people are fleeing, he comes across a girl sitting alone and traumatized on the floor. As they touch hands, Santa suddenly disappears, symbolizing the sad fact that he is unable to provide the one gift that would make her happy – to be reunited with her family. Yet did he just put her in touch with someone who can?
"The One Gift Santa Can't Deliver" Client: International Committee of the Red Cross. Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB, London. Creative Director: Richard Brim. Art Director: Ant Nelson. Copywriter: Mike Sutherland. Director: James Champ. Production Company: Independent.
Finally, a Xmas spot from Austria which charms mainly as a result of its production values, is in other words, beautifully made although I still don't fully understand the link between the client, a bank, and what they have to do with Xmas - perhaps profiting in some way from the great lie at the bottom of it? At any rate, here we meet a lonely hedgehog, ostracized due to his spikes, who spends all his time watching other animals enjoy themselves while he is left behind feeling sad. But hold on, this Christmas ad starring those woodland creatures was supposed to be about love...Indeed, the other animals eventually find a way of sharing holiday love with their spiky friend. Even though this spot really tugs at the heartstrings, it would – superficially, at least – appear to have nothing at all to do with the banking group it promotes.
"First Christmas" Client: Erste Group. Ad Agency: Jung von Matt/Donau, Vienna. Creative Directors: Andreas Putz, Mike Nagy. Art Directors: Mike Nagy, Eva Zefferer. Copywriters: Andreas Putz, Eva Zefferer, Karin Uebelbacher. Director: Kyra & Constantine. Production Company: Passion Pictures.