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Why seasonal advertising this year doesn't have the X-mas factor

I absolutely love Christmas advertising. It helps to get me in the festive mood. But I'm finding a lot of this year's offerings disappointing, misguided and worst of all - lazy. So what's been the issue this year?

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My biggest bug bear is reality TV stars (and I use that term very loosely indeed). However Stacey Solomon driving home for Christmas with a big prawn ring platter is harmless and way better than Kerry Katona. Plus I wouldn’t expect anything else from Iceland.

But I feel very let down by Marks & Spencer.  They can usually be relied on to deliver us oodles of festive fizz with past offerings from Take That and Peter Kay putting us in the mood for a chocolate fondant and turkey with all the trimmings.

However, tying their mast to X-Factor for me is disappointing and unfortunate in a year when the show has arguably had its least successful run of late.  

There was also controversy about the TVC edits. If you were watching last Sunday’s final you will have noticed that the M&S ad was edited to give Little Mix a lengthy final appearance at the end of the ad, just ahead of the announcement they’d won. Didn’t go down well with the kids.  The only good thing to come out of X-Factor was the Yeo Valley ad once again.

Very’s campaign show Fern and Holly competing against Father Christmas. Whilst to some they are both Christmas TV treasures, the girls can’t compete with Santa. And for those with small children who still believe in Christmas, it’s a little too cynical to capture that Christmas magic we are after. 

A trend we have noted in retail is the greater number of people willing to buy both premium and low-cost items. To capture the luxury slice of the market, Asda have introduced the Leith’s range. The food looks lovely, but without the Christmas pud and a token sprig of Holly, it could be an ad for any time of year.

Waitrose has re-united us with the winning formula of Heston and Delia. Again not overly creative, but judging from the re-sales of Heston’s latest orange-centred pudding on eBay, it is already proving a lucrative campaign for them.

So enough of the bah humbugs already – has anyone impressed me with their creative offerings this year?  Well yes …a few.

Sky ticked all the boxes for getting me in the Christmas spirit.  It’s full of nostalgia, showcasing favourite movies. After all - what would Christmas be without a good film.

Ipsos ASI recently voted the Harvey Nichols #walkofshame ad, as their Ad of the Week.  It provoked as much discussion and polarisation in the office as it has done online.  But it gains plaudits for trying a different take on things, with a big idea based on a genuine insight.

And my favourite will be no surprise to most. It has provoked a storm of debate, not least about what is in the box… For me the star at the top of my Christmas tree is definitely John Lewis.

This year's John Lewis christmas ad reminds us that Christmas isn’t just a season, it is a feeling. And this ad has that Christmassy feeling in spades (regardless of what is actually in the box).

Deborah McCrudden is chief operating officer of Ipsos ASI

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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