The Littlewoods Christmas commercial is already out there and during the next two weeks, it'll be joined by advertising that makes the case for each of the supermarkets and all the other retailers who rely on Christmas sales to keep them afloat.
Normally, the advertising industry would be wondering whose marketing gambit will have the greatest impact on sales, but this year a different question dominates: whose commercial will offend the chippy denizens of Mumsnet?Last year it was Asda's turn to face the ire of the the parenting website's members. Its crime was to present a version of Christmas that recognised how often mums are burdened with all the arrangements.
Mumsnet and other critics mistook a light-hearted representation of an off-balance workload for a glowing endorsement of this status quo and they slammed Asda for its outdated and sexist attitudes.It's as if they have no problem with the idea of mums single-handedly bearing this annual burden as long as it's not depicted in a television commercial.The year before it was Littlewoods' turn. Its mistake was to suggest that mums - rather than Santa Claus - are the ones responsible for the gifts at the foot of the tree on Christmas morning.
It was a ridiculous accusation. Any child sophisticated enough to realise that a commercial giving mums credit for buying gifts is very unlikely to sustain a belief in Santa. And - if not - what on earth does he or she make of all the other commercials advertising toys during November and December?But this didn't stop an almighty backlash against the high street retailer.Fear of a social media blitzkrieg will probably persuade a lot of advertisers to adopt a very conservative approach this year and it may be hard to distinguish one commercial from another.But Mumsnet will be watching - its virtual net curtains twitching at any perceived diversion from its approved version of Christmas. It's a vision that has dad pulling his weight in the kitchen; the reindeer pulling Santa through the sky and everyone joylessly pulling crackers over the turkey.Let's hope someone has the courage to take a risk or - better still - to treat the wrath of Mumsnet as a badge of honour.Jason Stone is the editor of David Reviews, and a contributor to The Drum on TV advertising