John Lewis

A review of 2023 Christmas adverts.

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15th November 2023

A review of 2023 Christmas adverts.

My contributions to the MCE blog have to date focused on politics – elections, notable figures, campaigns… In this blog I’m focusing on a different kind of campaign. I love Christmas – I love the food, the mulled wine, the jumpers, the board games, the general merriment… I particularly love Christmas adverts. I fell in love with Christmas adverts thanks to the John Lewis 2011 contribution, and every year I look forward to seeing what retailers have produced to encourage us to buy their gifts, outfits, decorations and food. As we are now firmly on the countdown to Christmas, here’s a rundown of my top 5 Christmas adverts for 2023.

5. Aldi – Kevin and the Christmas Factory

Topically with the release of Wonka, Aldi has created a take on the tale of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory featuring Kevin the Carrot as the titular character. Full points to Aldi for their creativity for rhyming throughout and the use of (slightly tortured at times) puns such as William Conker, the Plumty Dumptys, and “I’d like to present you with the cheese to the factory!” A good, fun advert.

4. John Lewis – Traditions Grow

Declaration of interest: I always LOVE the John Lewis adverts, and every year they have been known to make my small heart grow three sizes that day (Seuss, 1957). This year’s offering didn’t have that impact for me. John Lewis has produced some very heartwarming adverts over the years (Monty the Penguin in 2014 and The Journey in 2012), and other times the department store has went down a more whimsical route (Buster the Boxer in 2016). This year’s advert is a return to the tried and tested formula of cute child makes surprising friend (Moz the Monster in 2017 and Excitable Edgar in 2019) and what seems to be inspiration from Little Shop of Horrors. I like this advert – I like the message of creating your own traditions, and I like how John Lewis has opted not to go with a breathy cover of an 80s song for the music and instead has Andrea Bocelli singing a lively Italian rock song; however for possibly the first year ever, it isn’t my favourite.

3. TK Maxx – Festive Farm

A duck in slippers, a hedgehog in a beanie, a great soundtrack, and a fantastic dialogue of “Jeanne, did you buy all the farm designer outfits?” “I did!” This was a real winner for me – simple, silly and gets across the message of “spoil all of your loved ones for less.” Sometimes less really is more, and this short (in comparison) advert is a great one.

2. Dobbies – Find your Christmust

The Dobbies advert perfectly portrays the feeling of joy and relief when you find the perfect item when Christmas shopping. I love the inclusion of the dalmatian at the end, having found its perfect toy – a nice reminder to ensure you don’t forget your four-legged family members (and that Dobbies stores are dog friendly).

1. M&S – Clothing & Home

M&S launched their clothing & home advert starring Tan France, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Zawe Ashton and national treasure Hannah Waddingham, and almost instantly got a lot of backlash. The advert begins with the aforementioned stars slaving over preparations for Christmas to the sound of Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything For Love in the style of a piano ballad until they just decide no more. Tan throws a board game into a fishtank, Sophie torches Christmas cards, Hannah throws cracker hats into a tree chipper, and (my personal favourite) Zawe launches an elf on the shelf off a roof with a baseball bat. The message is do only what you love at Christmas. For multiple reasons this advert was slated, but I love it and love the message behind it of not getting wrapped up in things you think are expected of you and actually doing what you enjoy.

Whether you agree with my opinions on these individual adverts or not, what is unavoidable is that at this time of year, retailers have managed to transform tv adverts from things that are frequently fast-forwarded or channel skipped over, into something people actively search to watch online and share on their social media feeds. Christmas adverts largely are, rather than encouraging you on what to buy, telling a story of feelings that come from Christmas – whether this makes you laugh, cry or both.

By Lindsay Millar

Photo: John Lewis & Partners