It's that time of year again - no, not the season of joyful tidings; it's actually that time of year when we get buried under a mound of festive adverts, each vying harder than the last to elicit a tearful emotional reaction. Call me cynical (like many before you), but we are almost at the point when Christmas adverts will hold an onion to your eyes to guarantee tears.
Take John Lewis. Yes, the monster under the bed is cute and the child sweet in his acceptance of his new roommate. Yes, it's mildly sad when the monster disappears (or does he?) when the boy receives a night light (which has already sold out on the John Lewis website). But this Monsters Inc. pastiche is desperate in its attempts to recreate the genuine emotion of its precursors - Monty the penguin being a personal favourite. For me, the advert jars with the message - I'm not really sure what John Lewis want me to do, or what they're trying to say..."Buy a nightlight from us and extinguish your child's imagination"?
It sits heavily amongst the other retailers' offerings this year; Debenhams riffing on a modern Cinderella story (another confusing brand message: don't bother buying shoes and dresses from us - all that matters is love...materialism is dead! Also, here's Ewan McGregor shoehorned in at the end); Tesco's tour of families and their Turkey successes and failures (causing uproar at the inclusion of diverse families, as though Christmas is allowed to be celebrated ONLY by Christians); Asda's Christmas Willy Wonka chocolate factory (nicely encapsulating the wonder at the effort that goes into every part of Christmas); or Marks and Spencer with Paddington Bear's case of mistaken identity (a riotous romp with the ditsy bear and a genuine take on the spirit of sharing and the power of a great gift).
For me, the Paddington advert comes out on top - at Christmas, I want to feel uplifted, drawn into the magic of sharing, families, generosity and (most importantly!) good food. It doesn't feel right to be expecting or even hoping to cry at a Christmas advert - for me, that's simply not what the season is about! It would be far more in the Christmas spirit to forego the billions spent on advertising during the festive season, and instead donate the ad budget to charity to help families and people in need have a better Christmas. No tears necessary.
A giant snoring monster called Moz has split critics online, after it was revealed as the star of this year's John Lewis Christmas advert. The eagerly anticipated ad from the high street store tells the story of a little boy and his friendship with an imaginary monster living under his bed. The campaign follows the release of other big-budget festive ads from Marks and Spencer, Argos and Debenhams.