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We've Been Watching

The good, the bad and the weird – our annual wrap up of Christmas 2018 ads.

Creepy Elf on a Shelf

Yet again it is time for the Retail X annual Christmas wrap up. We are being big party poopers this year as we aren’t including any NZ ads. Why? Because the pickings are so very, very slim. We especially don’t want to upset our friends in retail marketing as we know they have six parts of bugger all to spend on a good Christmas ad and it’s hard to stack up against the northern hemisphere.

What makes a good retail Christmas ad then?

It needs to make you look up and engage. It can be clever, funny or simply a slice of life but what it does is evoke something emotional that captures your heart, mind and ultimately your wallet.

The big thing that swings a cracker of a Christmas ad for me is music. If it can make me well up with tears, it’s a winner. This year we are pretty lucky to have a few tear-jerkers as well as some novel and new ways to connect with shoppers.

Let’s start with our mates over the Tasman.

ALDI Christmas Australia – Santa Crashes Christmas

This is the best tv ad to come out of Aussie for Christmas in some time. Santa’s been found in the outback of Australia. He crash-landed in Woop Woop and was welcomed in with open arms by the local community, because it’s always the more the merrier at Christmas with ALDI.

Target Australia – “The Gift”

I love this one and it made me well up the first time I watched it. I am going to make a special trip to target when I go to Oz next week just because they made a great Christmas ad. The intent of the ad is to urge people to give a little love.

This narrates the story of a boy who bought a gift for his mother but forgets it on a bench at the station. A girl takes notice and passes the gift to some skateboarders who then pass it onto an athlete and, eventually, the entire city gets together to return the gift to the boy. Great soundtrack choice.

Myer - Naughty or Nice

This is just plain clever and Myer has nailed Christmas with this wonderfully interactive piece for the customers. Myer will be selling Naughty or Nice baubles that are exclusive to Myer. The baubles will be advertised across TV, social media and digital billboards, displaying what percentage of shoppers are naughty and what percentage are nice.

In the lead up to Christmas the percentage on the baubles will be updated to present up to the minute live data, keeping track of how naughyt and nice customers are over the festive season.

What a clever way to drive customers into store. I'd love one of these but not sure how it will work on my teens.

Best of the UK

The Brit's do the very best Christmas ads. Always have and possibly always will. They have both the budget and the population to support the craft. They celebrate the importance of the season and making sure they get on the radar with customers in new and interesting, as well as traditional ways.

My absolute favourite #1

John Lewis "The boy and the piano"

This journey tells the story of how a special gift inspired and influenced the course of a sweet boy's life - yes Sir Elton John. Including a tour through his life and career, to a Christmas morning in the 1950's when his mum gave him his first piano - the very one we saw him sitting at in the first scene. It gives me goosebumps every single time.

Waitrose - "Fast Forward"

Now we get to enjoy Waitrose 'taking the piss' out of their partners John Lewis. This is the third in a series of six that sees a young girl encouraging Mum and Dad to come and watch the best Christmas TV ad. The rest is genius. Wonderful piss taking including Dad taking a cheeky swipe "I prefer the one with the penguin" which refers to the much loved 2014 Monty the Penguin advert.

Aldi Christmas UK – Kevin the Carrot and the Wicked Parsnip

Voted one of the UK's favourite, Kevin the Carrot is back for a third year in a row. In this Christmas fairytale, it's crunch time for Kevin the Carrot as he fights to save his family from Pascal, a wicked Parsnip living in a dark castle way up high. It's a perfect fairytale ending.

Not my cup of tea but clearly very popular.

Sainsbury's - The Big Night

Best actor in a TVC goes to "The Plug" - watch and you'll see.

Starring an 8-year-old star giving the performance of her life, all for her mum. The Show tells the story of the North Star overcoming her nerves to deliver a performance of a lifetime. She is supported by a huge cast of 59 kids aged 6-11, all dressed as a variety of Christmas staples - including a turkey drummer and set of Christmas lights. The cast all dance and sing along as the stage transforms to reveal a 40ft Christmas tree and a 14ft glitter filled gravy boat. The children's real parents were featured in the crowd too and another great choice of music.

ASDA - Bring Christmas home

Someone simply had too much money and wanted to make a big production.

TK Maxx – The Never-Ending Stocking

This year at TK Maxx, find a never-ending stocking in store or online and get gifts delivered all year round. This is clever and brings a smile to your face. Love it. The gift that keeps on giving – very TK Maxx. On brand.

Boots - Gifts that get them

Another tear jerker and I possibly appreciate more than others given my kids have just entered the teen/tween years. Celebrate your loved ones; not just for what they do but who they really are. Another great soundtrack.

TESCO - However you do Christmas

A good solid effort from Tesco. Very Christmassy, very inclusive, very Tesco.

KFC – Turkey comes and goes, but chicken's here to stay.

A story of a chicken #chickensrock

This is a gem. Irreverent and certainly gets your eyes up. One of the more bizarre, KFC pits poultry against poultry. For the most part simply a chicken trekking through snow, there’s not a hint of Christmas to it except the weather but I still love it.

And from our US mates

Amazon – Can you feel it

The Amazon boxes are back in full voice, singing out loud for those feeling the festive spirit.

Macy’s Space Station – Wonder of Giving

Only in the US but still something we can all relate to, having a family member away over the holidays. But in this TVC it’s because they’re on a space mission and currently orbiting the earth. A little OTT but to let her know her family is thinking of her, the astronauts husband and daughter send a present of a snow globe up to her for Christmas, with its homemade packaging creating the effect of it snowing inside the space station. Cheesy but cute.

Apple 2018 – Share your Gifts

Apple has launched its annual holiday campaign and this year it’s animated with an original song written and performed by 16-year-old singer and songwriter, Billie Eilish. The ad features just one Apple product, a MacBook Pro, but here is the explanation if you don’t get it (took me a few watches as I fell asleep in the middle).

Share your Gifts tells the story of Sofia, a girl who hides her talent from everyone. So, as she creates something on her laptop (a MacBook Pro, ta-dah), she's reluctant to let anyone, even her faithful dog, see her creations. I don’t get it really.

This however is the best Christmas ad Apple has ever made – 2013.

I still include it every year because it is timely, relevant and heart-warming. Everything a Christmas ad should be.

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