BLOG: So Here it is…

Maja (16) recounts some classic Christmas adverts in her blog below!


Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”

The well-known carols being sung by choirs are flying all around us in Santa’s sleigh. No matter your background, everyone is aware of what the jingling bells of Christmas mean to us at this time of year. Human emotions are at their most malleable in the festive period; and the art of advertising comes into play to encourage people to run to stores. At Christmas time, this is done in a form you could describe as a form of emotional blackmail. The start of December is now a psychological cue for being easily manipulated to emotional extremes for the sake of Yuletide ‘joy’.

From its humble beginnings as the winter solstice turned into a religious festival, Christmas is now synonymous with nostalgia and reminiscing about all the best bits of being a kid. At its core, it should always be a warm or safe place to kick up our feet in front of a cozy fireplace with family. However, as time has gone on, cynicism has surged through our society turning it into something that can often be perceived as a load of consumerist guff. Businesses are catching onto this and have begun to change their advertising strategies in the festive period to use a new technique of hitting our emotional heartstrings (or violently yanking them in the case of John Lewis’s ‘Man on the Moon’ in 2015). Companies are hoping that we will somehow be deceived into thinking they’re capable of making Father Christmas magically to be sent to our doorsteps, leading us to align our loyalties to their brand. The basic way of describing their version of psychological brainwashing could be described as: “they showed us that lovely uplifting advert of a dog on a trampoline, I feel the love of Christmas from them that I wish to replicate in my own home. Let us purchase ALL of their products.”

In our not-too-distant past however, we have seen the opposite of what we see today in the form of garish and hideous Christmas adverts, containing all the sophistication of Dr Seuss’ entire catalogue of cartoon characters, Grinch and all. A particular advert I found with this cringe worthy style was Woolworth’s 1977 Christmas advert which definitely can give every cynic of the season another reason to feel smug about their opinions. The entire piece was full of ‘upbeat’ music that made my ears want to explode paired with what must have been 1977’s perception of ‘attractive’ tv actors modelling hairdryers and drills etc. The logo itself contained lettering miles away from the slim and tall fonts that have been proven to be more attractive to consumers – don’t believe me? Look at the current 2018 fonts of John Lewis, Subway or even Pepsi. Compare them to what they used to look like and consider which is more appealing. Crucially here though, there was no sentiment to be found at any point throughout the ad ­– a man dressed as Dracula flapping about holding a board game with his namesake alone proves my point.

It has been established that John Lewis is the pioneer of the heartfelt Christmas advert.”

Their history of original characters, (okay forget Elton for a moment) have stuck in the long-term memory of most who have watched them since ‘The Bear and The Hare’ in 2013. As screens were EVERYWHERE, it was impossible to avoid the ad campaign and news about stickers of the titular characters given as freebies to shoppers at their stores – strengthening the emotional immersion. A moving rendition of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ sung by Lily Allen has further solidified the story in our minds with music being a key part of our emotional memories ­­– think of why you love your favourite song or all the feelings that come flooding in when you hear it. The run up to Christmas now even involves discussion and excitement over the new John Lewis advert, almost as anticipated as advent calendars and the Doctor Who Christmas special. That is how John Lewis know they’ve won. This year seems to have created the most controversy for any of their Christmas adverts with celeb Elton John being the focal point of the advert; but because of the emotional genius in ‘The Bear and the Hare’ and ‘The Man on the Moon’, John Lewis now doesn’t need to try as hard because they have our attention whether we like it or not. This obviously is unlikely to stand the test of time, as with all fads, but the emotional appeal that comes along with their adverts is a true testament to the advertising machine that now seems to have a ruling, in part, over our perception of Christmas. As somebody who wants to be a filmmaker myself one day, looking into the emotional manipulation presented in these adverts can actually be a good lesson on how I may wish to elicit certain emotions from audiences of my future works.