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Now That’s What We Call a Christmas (Ad) No 1


The Iris global ECD and London CCO Grant Hunter (old) sits down with his son Leo Hunter (eight) to review this year’s UK Christmas campaigns

Now That’s What We Call a Christmas (Ad) No 1
The Xmas ads have come early this year due to the congested schedule the Winter World Cup has created. And this year it feels like we all need a pick-me-up more than ever, so do the Christmas ads deliver? It’s all well and good analysing the executions but ultimately it’s the emotive response you need for success during the festive period. So with that in mind I’ve signed up a little helper in the form of my eight year old, Leo. Now he really tells it how it is so brace yourselves for some Craig Revel Horwood directness. 

John Lewis

First up the custodians of Christmas ads, John Lewis. This year’s effort is a more subdued affair. A great song choice on the lyrical front and a brilliant cause to be supporting - 108,000 children in care is a sobering statistic. The story shows a middle-aged guy learning to skateboard – the reveal being, he and his partner are welcoming a young person (who is a skater) into their family this Christmas. But the performances for me don’t quite deliver as authentically as they could – maybe I’ve watched too many genuine skateboard wipe-outs on TikTok? It just doesn’t give me the feels. What do you reckon Leo? 

“It’s OK – I quite like this but what has it got to do with John Lewis?” 
Grant: 3 out of 5  
Leo: 3 out of 5 


M&S Food

M&S weave some jovial narrative into the front end around Duckie being terrorised by the family pooch. The voice of Duckie is Jennifer Saunders reuniting the French & Saunders comedy pairing.

They then take us on a mouth-watering tour of their festive fayre in true M&S fashion. The food looks gorgeous. They’ve balanced some fun for the kids with the right level of beautiful cinematography. But how does it land for you Leo? 

“The ad is weird - the duck and the fairy were a bit creepy.” (Sorry plastic fairy Dawn.)

Grant: 3 out of 5 
Leo: 3 out of 5 

Sports Direct

Sports Direct open on a traditional Christmas dinner scene with a fantastic array of football family guests – it then takes us on a channel-zapping tour of Xmas ad tropes. All with Eric Cantona proclaiming “Give me Football”. It’s joyous, the catchphrase is sticky, the cameos are on point (maybe I’m biassed as a West Ham fan but Dec and Jared on the sofa is class). They showcase products throughout, keep the pace up and the result is a feel-good Crimbo romp around the grounds. Over to you fellow pundit! 

“It’s really funny – the commentator’s head popping up in the table made me laugh.” 
Grant: 4 out of 5 
Leo: 4 out of 5 


In the Boots spot we watch our protagonist seeing a brighter side to her everyday, all through her magical new spectacles. I don’t really see or feel the magic unfortunately. How do you see it Leo? 

“I don’t really know about that one – I like the music – but it’s a bit cringey.” 

Grant: 2 out of 5 
Leo: 2 out of 5 


When you’re remixing an iconic Christmas classic such as ‘Elf’ you’ve taken on some pretty high expectations. The creative team have pulled it off in a seamless way. The incorporation of those iconic moments into a reworked narrative does the nostalgia whilst showcasing ASDA’s current Xmas offering. It’s great fun but what does my little helper think? 

“I like it because it has elf in it and elf is funny – when he jumped on the Christmas tree it was like a cat jumping onto a curtain.”  
Grant: 5 out of 5 
Leo: 5 out of 5 


Kevin the Carrot is back and this time it’s a ‘Home Alone’ remake where his parents have left him at home as he contends with some festive intruders. It’s following a formula so it’s sure to delight the younger crowd but it lacks the sparkle of Asda’s ‘Elf’ homage. But what does my carrot-loving Leo think? 

“I like it because it’s based on ‘Home Alone’ – instead of the Eiffel Tower it’s the Trifle Tower – that’s funny”  

Grant: 3 out of 5 
Leo: 4 out of 5 


Amazon package up their Christmas message ‘Joy is Made’ with a story of a girl, her father and her snow globe. Is the globe representative of a connection to a loved one now departed? Maybe? We see Dad recreate the Snow Globe in their greenhouse by buying a paper shredder and a fan from the big box company. I’m sure his energy bill is going to go through the roof! The music is a bit too melancholy for me. Maybe Joe Lycett was inspired to shred Becks’ Attitude cover after seeing this – probably not but does the snow globe do anything for Leo? 

“Ermmm not sure. Why would you strap down a snow globe with a car seatbelt?” 
Grant: 3 out of 5 
Leo: 2 out of 5 


Very goes for a well known Christmas jingle and then flogs the idea that there are lots of different Christmases which you can buy now and pay for later. It leaves me feeling a little flat. How about you Leo? 

“Why would you want more than one Christmas? Birthday Christmas – that’s silly.” 
Grant: 2 out of 5 
Leo: 1 out of 5 

TK Maxx


TK Maxx is nicely styled as our protagonist dances around town high fiving everyone. Thanks to TK Maxx she’s got her Christmas shopping nailed. Supernature by Cerrone on the soundtrack makes this whistle along at pace. It’s inoffensive but it would seem Leo feels otherwise: 

“No no no this is the worst – why would you go around high fiving people, why would people be in the sewer and why would someone be in a tree?” Why indeed? 

Grant: 3 out of 5 
Leo: 1 out of 5 



Tesco taps into the irony of our ever-changing political landscape as they present a broadcast from the Christmas Party. A party that always delivers. They spell out the need for the country to have more joy. And they show lots of diverse families across the UK enjoying themselves even those putting out the bins. So Leo, my Right Honourable Gentleman what say you? 

“I don’t like it. Why is he happy it’s bin day?” 

Grant: 3 out of 5 
Leo: 2 out of 5 

And that concludes this wrap up of Xmas fayre. Leo and I are aligned on the Christmas Ad No 1 and that’s Will Ferrell having himself a very merry time at Asda with Sports Direct coming in at Number Two. When you get there, have your elf a very merry Christmas and c’mon England (and Wales) here's hoping they bring us some festive cheer. What’s that Leo? 

“If England had Elf on their team we’d definitely win the World Cup.” 

Here’s to dreaming big.

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Iris, Fri, 25 Nov 2022 11:13:39 GMT