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The Cravens Christmas Commercial Critique!

by Katy Evans 20th December, 2019

Seen & Heard is back with a shiny new website to show it off on. And seeing as ‘tis the season… we’ve decided to do a bit of a round up of the crackers and turkeys doing the festive advert rounds. We may also be trying to get a Christmas copy bingo full ho-ho-house, so expect all the trimmings as we get this all wrapped up.

First out of Santa’s advertising sack is the daddy of them all, John Lewis, with a dragon’s tale (tail?) that warms the heart and sets fire to the decorations at the same time. Cute character for merch? Check. Christmas cover version? Check. Don’t care anyway cos it’s so good? Check, check, check. We like this one, the most fun JL has had since Monty the penguin, we’d take excitable Edgar over Elton any year.

Next up is a festive pun fest that even Cravens’ finest writers would struggle to top. Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot is now almost as much of a new Christmas institution as X-Factor winners failing to be top of the pops. And this year the crafty carrot came up against the leafy blinders and their Brussel Sprout bad guy Russell. Cue christmas fart jokes and vegetable puns aplenty. They even managed to put a season spin on Robbie Williams’ Let me entertain you. Merry and bright from start to finish! (Oh and John Lewis may want to take notes about how quickly the Kevin toys sold out this year too. Like hot (carrot) cakes…

Another winter warmer featuring carrots (or in this case reindeer treats) is McDonald’s part animated, part live action ad. The ad continues to do what this most American of fast food brands always manages to do, tap into British family life in an authentic way. Archie the ‘reindeer’ might not have Kevin’s swagger, or Edgar’s flair, but he helps make the burger brand palatable in a time where turkey rules the roost.

Speaking of palatable, Walkers made us question whether Mariah Carey had ever tasted a whole crisp before. That’s clearly not the bite of a seasoned salt and vinegar eater…

Christmas is always better with a little bit of humbug (just ask Scrooge), and Ikea’s silence the critics ad delivers like a lump of coal in a stocking. Updating their classic Chuck out the Chintz in time for the 2020s, this hip hop soundtracked ad sprinkles some snark into the season to embarrass people into decking their halls a little smarter. It’s very, very, very, very, very, very acceptable to us.

Halfords managed to nail the ‘harder to pull off than a giant cracker’ minimalist Christmas ad this year. Simple, with a great end line snatched straight from Christmas copy bingo, what it lacks in actual Christmasyness, it makes up for by being a great ad for one of the best presents ever – a bike.

And while we’re on the subject of bikes, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a turkey and this year there was a bike brand that got well and truly plucked – Peloton. Their ad managed to knock $1 billion off the company’s share price (no, really: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elanagross/2019/12/05/peloton-stock-is-down-more-than-10-following-backlash-about-sexist-ad/#22c7653e3bbb), and put the brand on many people’s naughty list with an ad so terrible it ticked off every box on the ‘bad ad bingo’ card. 

Patronising, sexist, muddled, pretentious it was so awful it prompted a rather fantastic response from Aviation Gin, giving redemption to the same actress with a masterclass in understated acting. 

And there you go. It’s a wonderful life really. Bless us one and all. 

Have a great Christmas and don’t worry, it’ll all be over by Boxing Day. Then there’ll just be the small matter of all those sale ads.