Twitter offers an interesting insight into the way the public perceives television advertising and it’s not surprising that John Lewis’s most recent Christmas commercials have ‘trended’ on Twitter. Both were excellent films and fully deserve the public’s acclaim.
On the other hand, it’s completely baffling that Coca Cola’s Christmas commercial also trends on Twitter. Unlike John Lewis, Coca Cola don’t make a new commercial each year. Instead they run an ad that’s so old, I haven’t been able to ascertain its age – I suspect carbon dating may be required.
The company decided this ad had passed its sell-by date in 2001 and for six years they created new work to persuade punters to buy Coca Cola over the Christmas holidays. But in 2007 they revived the old ad and this year Twitter was abuzz with excitement when it made its annual appearance during ‘The X Factor’ on 10 November.
It’s a mystery to me that Coca Cola ever managed to attach itself to Christmas in the first place. The association must owe a lot to Haddon Sundblom’s paintings of Santa Claus first used in Coke’s print advertising during the 1930s but how did a drink that’s ‘best served cold’ become something that people buy when there’s three-feet of snow on the ground?
It’s part of a creeping Americanisation of Christmas. Sharp-minded readers may have noticed my reference to snow in that last paragraph. Christmas is seldom snowy in Britain – this idea comes from the parts of America where they really can rely on a thick white blanket year after year. And why Santa? When I was young, the fellow who brought the pressies was Father Christmas – whatever happened to him?
The sight of those trucks makes me think more of pollution more seasonal good will. The cute little Christmassy town must smell like a busy ferry terminal once those trucks have rolled through its picturesque hills. As the gleeful public come out to greet the convoy, asthma sufferers must remain in their houses rocking themselves gently back and forth as they remember sucking on their inhalers in a desperate bid to avoid hospitalisation the previous year.
But easily the most annoying thing about this lazy annual event is that it works. The public genuinely love this commercial. It tells them that “Christmas is on the way”. It feels positively Scrooge-like to condemn a piece of advertising that provokes so much affection but to borrow a phrase from the lyricist of John Lewis’s 2011 Christmas commercial...“I can’t help the way that I feel”.
Jason Stone is owner and editor of adverts review site David Reviews. For the last decade Jason has assessed the merits of new TV commercials on the site which has become a must-read for those in adland. Jason is also a regular contributor to The Drum magazine and The Drum online and is the man behind our popular Desert Island Clips series.
Head of innovation at Cheil UK Daniele Fiandaca looks to the past, present and future of Christmas ads in his 24 December adVENT.