Here we are in the second week of December, after the first onslaught of holiday ads–John Lewis! Spanish Lottery! That other British brand I only hear of once a year!–but still not out of the holiday-themed woods of rampant consumerism. Plenty of brands are rolling out their own emotionally manipulative baubles for us to get all weepy to. Okay look, I know that sounds cynical, but I’m starting to think that maybe the closer we get to the holidays like Christmas and New Year’s, the more susceptible we are to the advertising feels. Look at this week’s batch. I was irrationally affected by both the Dutch grocery store spot and the BBC One cartoon. I watch too many ads all year round to get that bit of dust in my eyes . . . WHATISHAPPENING? Must be the sleep deprivation due to panicked 4 a.m. wake-ups when I realize I forgot to move that damn Elf on the Shelf. Onward!
What: A new Christmas ad from Dutch grocery chain Plus.
Who: Plus, J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam
Why we care: This is a bit along the lines of Ikea’s “Every Other Week” from 2016, finding beauty and grace in the reality of modern families, instead of the idealized version. It’s perfectly cast and set to The Cinematic Orchestra’s “To Build A Home,” and the agency reportedly consulted with divorce and separation charity Villa Pinedo on campaign development and the sensitivities around the topic.
BBC One “Supporting Act”
What: A BBC One holiday ad that serves as a gentle reminder.
Who: BBC One, BBC Creative, MacKinnon & Saunders
Why we care: With puppets created by MacKinnon & Saunders (The Corpse Bride, Fantastic Mr. Fox), we get an original take on the seemingly omnipresent life lesson of BE PRESENT. A cute reminder to pay attention to the things that really matter.
What: Another sweet spot from Ikea that doesn’t get stuck in family clichés.
Who: Ikea Canada, Rethink
Why we care: Much like the Ikea spot I referenced above, here we have another family dynamic not often portrayed in advertising. A single mom and her son get through the days, making the holidays special in their own way. The kicker’s a wee bit on the cheesy side, but c’mon, I’m no Grinch.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals “Stars”
What: An adorable call to action for the beauty of dog adoption.
Who: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Why we care: Oh, you thought it was just families and the holidays that would get you emotional? Wait ’til this little pup hits your cryballs. Simple story, with a nice swap at the end. Adopt a dog–but not as a disposable Christmas gift!
Roman “Thinly Veiled Metaphors”
What: Men’s health startup Roman takes on every ad cliché associated with erectile dysfunction.
Who: Roman, Circus Maximus, Mike Bernstein
Why we care: Directed by SNL vet Mike Bernstein, this spot gets real about a shy issue, using every metaphor and ad cliché around–even the bathtubs–to get its point across. It’s a fun approach that ties back to the product; by making fun of traditional pharma ads, Roman pitches its new approach to diagnose, prescribe, and discreetly deliver erectile dysfunction medication.