Guerillascope’s Favourite Xmas TV Campaigns 2015

With Chris Rea now telling us he’s going home for Christmas five times a day, the only logical explanation is that it’s officially Yuletide season, though in reality, it’s felt that way since early November, when this year’s festive TV advertising campaigns careened into our lives. And what a battle to win Christmas it’s been.

This year we’ve looked on with equal measures of bewilderment, misty-eyed (damn dust in the air) nostalgia and mild nausea as brands go for the jugular with both hands. We’ve seen John Lewis debunking the laws of science for the sake of tears, Aldi consequently mocking John Lewis, Sainsbury’s practicing necromancy with the resurrection of deceased children’s book characters, and Tesco giving us a tutorial in how not to behave in a supermarket. Ladies and gentlemen, we have been truly spoilt this year.

But enough musing. Without further ado, let’s find out which festive TV campaigns have made it into Guerillascope’s Christmas Top 10 of 2015!

10. John Lewis - '#ManOnTheMoon'

OK, with 20 million YouTube views, reams of articles devoted to it, and social media ablaze with discussions over the viability of living on the moon, it may come as a surprise to you that “Man on the Moon” is not higher up on the list. Ultimately, whilst we appreciate the brand’s mission to raise awareness for Age UK – a fantastic cause that deserves greater exposure – we’re indifferent to the creative itself.

What blunts the campaign’s impact isn’t the fact that there’s a man living on the moon – we’ve lapped up flying snowmen since we can remember – instead, the issue revolves around the fact that no new ground has been traversed; John Lewis reverts to the same formulaic blueprint of tear-jerkingly sentimental narrative angle plus poignant acoustic cover to engineer the desired emotional response, when what we’re crying out for is something fresh.

9. House of Fraser - '#YourRules'

Want to wear a Christmas Jumper in November? Eat all of your advent chocolates in one fell swoop on December 1st? Get sizzled before noon on Christmas Day? This year House of Fraser is here to tell you that Christmas should be celebrated in any way you see fit – it’s your holiday and your rules. The message is dripped in sizeable doses of attitude and glamour, with Grace's cover of Lesley Gore’s classic ‘You Don’t Own Me’ adding a defiant edge sharpened further by quite a crescendo. Breathe it in and repeat: “I am a strong, independent human who just wants to dress their cats up as elves and film them.”

8. Sky Movies - 'Christmas'

You can always rely on Sky Movies to offer temporary escape with its festive TV advertising activity. Once again we’re flung into an alternate reality replete with famous movie characters, full-throttle action scenes and otherworldly backdrops, and once again we’re thoroughly entertained throughout. We are, however, faintly concerned by the potential spate of copycat Brussel Sprout attacks over Christmas, so stay safe and keep your wits about you guys, lest you receive a small yet unnerving hit to the head from an angry-looking, sprout-wielding child.

7. Harvey Nichols - 'Avoid #GiftFace'

Ahhh yes, the old gift face. Get it wrong and you’ll see your mother’s – or worse, your gran’s – sad face, quite possibly a fate worse than death. There is, of course, an alternative to becoming a gift face ninja: steadfastly insist that your loved ones buy you a present from Harvey Nichols. Quite simply, the choice is yours: either take the brand’s advice, or run the gauntlet all over again next year. A gauntlet with no reward at the end – just unjustified punishment.

6. Lidl - 'School of Christmas'

The beauty of Lidl’s ‘School of Christmas’ is in its identifiable nature; the lessons taught in these classrooms are ones all of us could have done with learning at some point. From avoiding the abject faff of tangled fairy lights to sparing the blushes of a family member with an expertly executed fake happy face, with this year’s effort, Lidl is teaching us how to safely navigate our way through the many potential mini-disasters Christmas can bring, and for that we should be grateful. Ultimately it’s the fact that we can see ourselves in the ad – and laugh at our own festive failures – that makes ‘School of Christmas’ such an enjoyable fixture on our TV screens this year.

5. Asda - '#BecauseItsChristmas'

Why do we like Asda’s ‘#BecauseItsChristmas’ campaign? Perhaps because it eschews the well-trodden path of sentimental narrative with delicate acoustic soundtrack. Or maybe because it eschews the well-trodden path of glitz and glamour thrown at us by an armada of celebrities. Essentially, it’s the feeling of authenticity; no special effects, no famous faces, no attempts to make us cry with festive morality tales. Its sole mission is to generate excitement around the season and make us appreciate the little things that make it such a special occasion.

Whilst Christmas is a time to reflect, it’s also a time to have fun. Asda not only recognises this, it reflects it, cramming all of the small things that make us happy over Christmas – namely the bundling of Christmas trees into a boot held shut by rope; dressing your dog up as a reindeer; watching your child’s half-hearted portrayal of a star in the school nativity play; awkward kisses under mistletoe; sleeping off the dinner in front of a festive film – into 60-seconds of buoyant anticipation.  

4. Vodafone - '#TerryTheTurkey'

We’ll hold our collective hands up and admit to enjoying a plate of turkey on Christmas Day… And the Boxing Day turkey sandwich… and the turkey sandwiches scoffed over the following week… But we also feel compelled to tip our cap to Vodafone for giving that most unfortunate of fowl the smattering of festive appreciation it so richly deserves.

A turkey called Terry is raised by a family. He grows up amid an environment of care and joy, that is, until Christmas comes around. As his human guardian takes him to the shed at the back of the garden, us viewers are led into believing that we’re about to see the saddest moment in TV advertising history. Then the relief hits, with roasted nutmeg unveiled from the oven instead of Terry, who is sat (stood) at the kitchen table with his undeniably ugly yet endearing turkey face.

A special shout out must go to the brand’s use of Westlife’s ‘Flying Without Wings’, which transforms the campaign into a spiritual experience.

3. Currys PC World - 'Jigsaw'

Many will have been there: having carefully deployed hints for months, that special somebody then goes and gets it SO wrong that the insufferable awkwardness suddenly filling the room actually ruins Christmas, at least until your mouth is crammed full of roast potatoes. Luckily for the protagonist in Currys PC World’s 2015 opus, Hollywood star Jeff Goldblum is on hand to pass on his acting experience so that such awful moments can be safely navigated.

His gift to us? If this Christmas you receive a present that instantaneously deflates the bubble of excitement you’ve been bouncing around in for the last month, just imagine it’s that new tablet and act accordingly. Of course, if somebody does actually buy you a 500-piece baked bean jigsaw for Christmas, then you’re entitled to create as tense and awkward a scene as you deem necessary.

2. Aldi - 'Man on the Moon Spoof'

OH NO THEY DI’INT! Well, they certainly did, and for us, Aldi’s irreverent parody of John Lewis’ ‘Man on the Moon’ is a bona fide contender for Winner of Christmas 2015. We do, of course, have a new parody law introduced last year to thank for this savvy effort, but in satirising perhaps the most talked about creative of the season, Aldi has succeeded in becoming a brand on the tip of everyone’s tongues this Christmas.

Taking its oft-used price comparison angle, Aldi – which spontaneously created the ad in response to the original and had it shot and cleared within just ten days – uses the same elderly-man-alone-on-the-moon direction implemented by John Lewis, but adds the brand’s trademark humour to completely subvert the effect on TV viewers.

Comparing a John Lewis telescope with Aldi’s own budget model, he decides the latter suits his extra-terrestrial needs just fine – it certainly does a passable job at spotting the companion gliding towards him on a sofa made appropriate for space travel by helium balloons. Yes, the mildly irritating scientific inaccuracies persist, but with the sentimentality of the original replaced with tongue-in-cheek humour, this bugbear becomes a point of entertainment.

1. Sainsbury's - 'Mog's Calamity Christmas'

Back in 2002, both parents and children alike were crestfallen to discover that Mog, the beloved feline protagonist from Judith Kerr’s series of children’s books, succumbed to old age and passed away. However, thirteen years on, Mog has been resuscitated by those sorcerers at Sainsbury’s to star in what has become the supermarket’s latest festive smash.

The beauty of ‘Mog’s Calamity Christmas’ is that it takes the narrative blueprint made so enduringly popular in the books – namely Mog getting into new and ever inventive types of trouble despite never really being culpable – and pollinates it with a feel-good Christmas message that has anybody with a heart swooning.

Throw in a charitable dose of humour and inventive action sequences, and you essentially have a TV advert that entertains the whole family – even the 16-year-old goblin lurking in the abyss upstairs. With every box seemingly ticked, the only conclusion to draw is that Sainsbury’s has cooked up yet another festive corker.