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Behind the windows of this very special Drum adVENT Calendar you’ll find a different member of the creative industry venting their feelings on a Christmas ad, or ads, they love or loathe. Today we're sharing our remaining adVENT's from Resn executive producer Jonathan Hawke, Cut+Run editor Ben Campbell, and Kari Owners owner of OPR.
My Christmas memories of TV advertising are a little hazy; clouded (not only by grandma's lethal trifle) by the confusion of being confronted by so many images of a freezing, albeit sparkling, northern hemisphere juxtaposed by my own experience of skipping stones in the glare of a blazing kiwi summer - they were always hotter back then.
But, what does stand out with clarity are not the ads, but the Christmas specials.
A contributing factor could be that New Zealand has a ban on all TV advertising on Christmas day, but there is nothing better to signal the fact that Christmas is REALLY happening than a good Christmas special.
I still feel pure joy at thought of watching the extended claymation epic of long eared donkey, or the smurfs sharing Christmas joy with Gargamel, and who could, or would want to, forget the irrepressible star wars holiday special (Disney - is the jarjar reboot ready yet?).
My message here for advertisers is simple. Pour all your resources not into making Christmas ads but Christmas specials in conjunction with shows you and your audiences love!
Jonathan Hawke is executive producer at Resn, the digital creative partner. Resn describes itself as "the ultimate digital partner". They have delivered the 'wow factor' for brands such as Panasonic, Coca-cola, MTV, Toyota, Google and Henessy.
Generally, when I am slumped at home with my goldfish and crack pipe, I mute the ads. “There are sofas for sale, somewhere!!!!!!” “Yes, I know.” “And make sure to shop with us!!” “Well, I am going to the most convenient one no matter what the brand. Almost.”
This ad, however, is more than tolerable. There are two types of retailers’ Christmas ads around this year – the sickly-sentimental with reworking of a tune that’s as middle of the road as the target audience, or the story of a downtrodden mum.
Apparently, this ad has attracted lots of complaints – some for reinforcing sexism. Martyr mother does go beyond the call, while everyone else gets on with making lots of noise, mess and generally taking her for granted. To those that complained I’d suggest the ad reflects, rather than reinforces, domestic stereotypes and maybe, when they’ve finished banging out letters to the ASA, they could get off their arses and help peel the sprouts.
I remember Christmas when we had so much family around, and this feels like a really honest interpretation with some super-nice details.
People like cats in ads but I prefer dopey looking dogs who are secret masterminds, plotting revenge for not taking them for that second poo of the day or for feeding them potentially toxic Christmas Pud under the table. Apparently, this ad has attracted lots of complaints – some because it depicts an act that is a serious threat to Rover’s health. To those that complained please see above.
I love the ad’s endless cupboards, pots and timers. I spend more time in foreign kitchens looking for things, than I do doing anything of use. Maybe I should just stick to chopping. I am very, very fast. I also like to see the mother looking realistically rough, and that’s before she goes seven rounds with a dead turkey.
If I am going to be hypercritical, the look from the husband before the tree is hit by a light sabre, makes it look like the mother has married an aggressive, binge-drinking moron. But maybe that just enhances our feelings of pathos toward her.
Finally mum says, after all her woes, “and I wouldn't have it any other way”, which lets us all off the hook for another year. I suppose I should ask my Mum what she thinks…“Yes, that's what I do. Panic! But what is it advertising? Christmas?”
It is a nice commercial but the big problem is that Morrisons doesn’t really have a strong enough brand identity. I know I'll get castigated for falling back on the opinion of a family member but I can't say this ain't been done with my offlines before! And that actually makes a difference to the end result.
Ben Campbell is an editor at Cut+Run. Ben started work as a runner at Soho-based Williams Editing, that lead to a stint in Cairo in 2003 teaching experienced editors Final Cut Pro and riding horses around the pyramids on his downtime. After cutting Kate Bush's promo for 'King of the Mountain', he was approached by Cut+Run founder, Steve Gandolfi, and signed on as an assistant in '05. Now a partner at Cut+Run Ben cites his career highlight as “watching the intro film Ben Caron and I made for Jay-Z at Glastonbury 2008 with 150 000 thousand screaming fans."
We all know the power of the mummy pound and the rise of the mummy blogger, so this year’s Christmas ads that have featured poor downtrodden mothers at the heart of family life aren’t too much of a surprise.
They are obviously reaching out to mums and saying “we understand you”, “you work hard” and “we appreciate you do everything really”. OK yes, Christmas is a bit stressful, and once the turkey is served mums can be left feeling a little unraveled – but do we really need reminded every time we turn on the telly?
No TV advert is really a success unless it creates a social storm these days, and this year’s attempts from the likes of Morrisons and Asda don’t seem to have gone down awfully well with Twitter’s female community.
My timeline filled up with comments saying the ads were “depressing”, some even said “sexist”, when the adverts first aired on prime time breaks.
Writer and Guardian columnist Sali Hughes (with 40,000 Twitter followers) said “The Morrisons Christmas advert gives me the major blues.”
Journalist Grace Dent (with 151,472 Twitter followers) tweeted ‘Morrisons: That’s Your Little Lot. Suck it up and start peeling.’
Perhaps not the social reaction they were hoping for.
On the flipside on 13 December another ‘advert’ appeared on YouTube for the Fiat 500, very obviously aimed at the same harassed mummy set but this time they really got it right.
Fiat says: “Word to all the mothers out there. This one goes out to you... 'The Motherhood' feat. Fiat 500L is dedicated to all those women who have to be all things to all people and live it large on a daily basis.”
The Motherhood isn’t a Christmas ad, but it is by far the best portrayal of being a mummy I have ever seen. “This is my crib, and these are my babes….” raps the young mum in a video viral that in just a week has already had over one million views, and 82,056 Facebook shares, 2,420 Twitter shares and 52 blog posts – 53 if you include this one.
Asda and Morrisons take note – this is how we mums roll. We don’t really want to be reminded how stressful Christmas is and all the domestic drudge that lies await…we like to have a bit of a laugh at the beautiful madness that is raising young children whilst trying to stay on top of jobs, homes, life…
By the way, I viewed this ‘ad’ voluntarily many times because it made me smile, then I tweeted it, Facebooked it, wrote a blog about it and shared it with friends. That’s what I call clever targeting of us mums at this time of year.
Kari Owers is the owner of OPR - a PR and social media agency in Newcastle. She is also North East woman entrepreneur of the year – and a mum.
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