'Tis the season for shit puns and terrible word play

By Kevin Chesters | chief strategy officer

December 11, 2015 | 5 min read

“You’ll go crackers for our deals”, “Jingle all the way to the bargains”, ‘Get Carol singing this Xmas…or Terry, Dave or Simon”, “Wise men come to Watford Electrics…”

I swear if I see one more crappy pun about “ringing in the deals” or making a “Ho Ho whole lotta savings” I’m going to shove a massive handful of Figgy pudding up someone’s chimney.

If you look up the word ‘creative’ in any dictionary you will find some variation on the descriptor of ‘originality of thought’. Being creative is about doing new things. Yet every year at this time there is a massive rush for clients (and agencies) to reach for 1001 Shit Seasonal Puns and let the poor-quality clichés commence.

As I drove in this morning I saw ads from loads of pretty famous clients (and creatives) who really ought to know better cracking out every bit of appalling yuletide wordplay going.

It’s enough to send you crackers. Etc.

Just because it is December does not mean we should switch on the cliché button and turn off the quality one. It’s snow joke (ok, I’ll stop now). And there’s myrrh (Ok, I won’t).

The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.

Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.

Sign up

I’d love to be a fly on the wall at the ‘Christmas Retail Theme Briefing’ at every major UK retailer. I wonder how they manage to get anyone to take them seriously. “So Duncan, this year is it going to be presents/Santa/baubles/trees or snowflakes?" (Delete as appropriate.) I’ve never seen why they don’t just swap window displays every year. It would save a fortune. can run last year's Xmas puddings from O2 and they can pick up the Santa decals from EE. Everyone is a winner. Apart from anyone who values anything vaguely creative.

Come to think of it, it is actually a cavalcade of laziness that has permeated everything all year round. So indulge me a massive rant.

A food brief? Well, it has to say TASTY doesn’t it? (Because that would be a new thing to say about…er……food.)

Lager ad? It’s all about being REFRESHING. Unless we want to say we’re something else when we’ll just turn refreshing into an adverb. Because NO ONE has ever thought of doing that. (Refreshingly British. Refreshingly original. Aaaaargh.)

Diet ad? It’s 0 per cent fat but 100 per cent tasty. No one would have thought of that, Xavier! Genius.

Car ad? Well stick a big picture of a red car facing left or right. On a road. In case people don’t know what a car is or does.

Phone ad? Got to show a big picture of our handset that looks EXACTLY LIKE EVERY OTHER HANDSET OUT THERE.

So, my Christmas plea (or possibly New Year's resolution) is to try and always just do something original. Because if you do something original you will, by definition, do something creative. And it’s been proven that quality of your creative work is the single biggest driver of advertising profitability [Top 10 Drivers of Profitable Advertising, Data2Decisions for Admap, 01/09/2014].

So doing new things equals profit. Easy. In these troubled economic times surely the best thing to do is to stand out. Whether it’s Christmas time or any other time.

That makes a load of Frankin-sense to me.

Kevin Chesters is executive planning director at mcgarrybowen London


More from Advertising

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +