Copyranter: Enough with the saccharine holiday ads

Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 12 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 25-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.

Jesus Christ, it gets worse every year.

Last year was as slushy as figgy pudding. But this season takes the fruitcake. Aldi’s senseless carrot named Kevin is back, and this time he’s horny. “Smiling” Amazon boxes are “singing” Supertramp’s worst, mushiest song (you know I’m bloody well right). John Lewis gifts us with a possibly plagiarized big, stupid under-bed monster named after Morrissey. And there are walking, talking elves; stuffed bears; and gingerbread men, women and children everywhere.

Where the hell have all the heady Xmas ads gone? That’s what I want for Christmas 2017, Santa: ONE intelligent holiday ad. In the meantime, please join me in enjoying some smart spots from Christmases past.

CANAL+, 2013

This wonderful piece of blasphemy via the French pay TV channel was immaculately conceived and presented by BETC Paris and Glue Society director Gary Freedman. The newborn hungry savior of humanity can wait — Joseph, Mary and guests have car chases to watch. The tapping of the figurative watch by that wise man is just precious.

Kit Kat, 2015

Back in the first week of December 2015, after a month of noisy, cheesy holiday sappiness, Kit Kat in the U.K. started running this anti-ad TV spot that began: “Welcome to nothing.” What follows is 30 seconds of nothing but white screen and crisp copy that speaks to people like they’re cognizant creatures, not brain-dead elves. It was yet another perfect execution in the long-running “Have A Break” Kit Kat campaign by JWT London.

Pot Noodle, 2010

This is how you do an animated holiday ad. You have to watch it about 10 times to get all the British humour jammed into this 75-second spot for a new Xmas-flavored “Pot Noeldle.” Look for the less-than-appetizing product shots. They are quite literally making wicked fun of their less than wealthy demographic, whom I’m sure loved the ad (by AKQA, London). “POO NOODLE” –LOL.

Aldi, 2013

Back before Aldi jumped on the overwrought John Lewis bandwagon, the discount retailer ran holiday ads that stuck to their winning “Like Brands. Only Cheaper” campaign. After watching, you might be wondering if the model is referencing a certain British soccer legend known for unsubtle underwear ads and a somewhat squeaky voice. (Ad agency: McCann Manchester)

Coca-Cola, 2007

You can be cheery and drippy and heartwarming and still be smart, goddamn it! See? All Ogilvy Buenos Aires needed was one simple linchpin and good execution, and they got themselves a great holiday ad.

Harvey Nichols has done many smart Christmas ads in the past (examples here and here). They haven’t released a 2017 ad yet, and probably won’t at this “late” date. But a copywriter can dream.

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