Making an emotional connection this Christmas

Author: Adam Bicknell
Published: 8th December 2016

Now that the majority of Christmas TV ads have made their appearance, we’ve been served everything from Buster the boxer and Kevin the Carrot, right through to helicopter-borne Mrs Claus saving Christmas for a seven-year-old boy.

As you’d expect, supermarkets and department stores continue to dominate the charts, but have they won our hearts?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but while I enjoyed John Lewis’ big-budget (£7million) Buster campaign, and Sainsbury’s YouTube-topping ad with its three-minute 3D-print animated musical starring James Corden, I prefer the ads that are more thought-provoking than purse-string-pulling.

English for Beginners

This week, a newcomer to the Christmas ad party took me by surprise and left me teary-eyed: a little known Polish auction site called Allegro. The business’ TV ad features an older Polish gentleman who needs to learn English, so he orders headphones and the ‘English for beginners’ book he needs to make his Christmas wish come true…

The art direction is beautiful and there are some great scenes, but the sentiment is perfect. I won’t spoil it, I’ll let you judge for yourself, but the tag line - And you? What are you looking for? – is absolutely spot-on.

The creators of the ad confessed to tears too.  In a Facebook post, they wrote: "The copywriter cried as he created it, the client cried when they approved it, the producer cried when they produced it, the director cried when he directed it, the editor cried when he edited it and now it's the internet's turn."

Santa Forgot

Heart-warming and thought-provoking messages will win over clever sales messages for me every time. But there is one advert that stands apart from the rest for me and it’s achieved real acclaim.

‘Santa Forgot’, created for Alzheimers Research UK by Bristol-based animators Aardman is brilliant. Narrated and campaign-backed by Stephen Fry, this beautiful ad is a tough watch – so much so that it has to be shown after the 9pm watershed.

For those that have missed it, I urge you to check it out. Santa Forgot is the tale of Freya, who has grown up in a world where Santa has stopped visiting on Christmas Eve. She learns of Santa’s condition and travels to the North Pole. She offers her own support and sets the redundant elves to work as researchers, explaining that ‘if Santa has a disease, research can find a way to fix it’.

Dementia is the world’s greatest medical challenge, not only for the individuals affected and their families, but also for society, and this advert reminds us gently that, while we’re giggling at boxers on trampolines and humming along to Corden and chums’ catchy little ditty, there are those that may not remember seeing that ad, or remember that tune, at all.

Perhaps I’m biased - this is a disease that is close to home and I’ve seen first hand the destructive effect it has - but I defy anyone not to be moved by this emotional Christmas tale; a reminder that memories and support are worth much, much more than a trampoline or a nice red coat this season.

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