Cheil UK head of innovation Daniele Fiandaca looks at Christmas ads past, present and future, adVENT Day: 24

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 it’s Cheil UK's head of innovation and managing partner, Daniele Fiandaca.

As we near the last adVENT's of the year, it seemed appropriate to look at the past, present and future of Christmas advertising. Fear not though – this isn’t a Dickensian moral tome on the topic, more my take.I love the festive season, so when I look at the past, I don’t have to go back much further than last year’s John Lewis ad, which I absolutely loved. Let’s face it, the joy of Christmas as a kid is getting presents, but as you get older, you realise that the best thing about the season is actually the giving of presents. That moment of joy when my niece and nephew open their presents is priceless (albeit short-lived before they quickly move onto the next one). What this ad did was bring to life our joy of being a child again, with the clever added twist of an adult ‘giving’ perspective.So, now to the present. In all honesty, the only ad I looked out for was John Lewis’ follow up. And it was a letdown, for me certainly. Not because I’m heartless – my fondness for the 2011 spot has confirmed my sentimental streak. It was simply because the story line was too far stretched for me to suspend my disbelief: why didn’t Mr Snowman just pull out his smartphone and buy the gloves online?The fact is I haven’t seen any other Christmas TV ads this year and I rely on the digital world to provide my inspiration for my Christmas shopping - from the various Christmas gift lists to Pinterest to Fancy and to brilliant aggregators like Notonthehighstreet.I know I am not your average target audience but the fact remains that while brands invest in expensive TV spots, few of them invest in interesting content in the digital or the social space. It seems the best anyone can do online is a Christmas cracker Twitter campaign, which even if it worked (still awaiting my response), is functional rather than inspirational, and not remotely tied into any kind of human truth. Let’s face it, even the Marmite OOH campaign was a little uninspiring (let’s let people put their faces in the Xmas lights!)Now to the future. Given that Santa is increasingly going surfing for gifts on the internet, my wish list for Christmas 2013 includes more brands investing early in the digital and social space to provide activity that transcends the functional to tap into human truths and emotions. I know this is harder to do in the digital/social space, but it is possible, and there is a significant amount to be gained for whoever gets it right...cracking it will certainly be on my New Year’s resolutions list. Merry Christmas.Daniele Fiandaca is head of innovation/managing partner at Cheil UK. He describes himself as a “passionate, focussed leader of creative business” and prior to joining Cheil UK spent over ten years at Profero. Daniele is also involved with Creative Social, a collective of the world’s top creative directors and business owners.Lambie-Narin executive creative director Adrian Burton lambasts HSBC's embarrassingly limp festive effort in his 23 December adVENT.

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