Ho-ho-ho: Retailers world-wide are striving to outdo each other with their Christmas commercials. But what does Santa think?
At the end of this tedious coronavirus year, let's have a look around the global village and see how the world's retailers are celebrating Christmas. All you need to do is click the link embedded in each company name and watch the commercial they have designed to promote sales during the festive season.
If the birth of Christ was re-enacted today, one wonders how biblical figures would manage to celebrate a Covid Christmas. Perhaps the shepherds would only be allowed to view the babe in the crib if they took a fever test and wore protective masks. Or, would Joseph and Mary hold virtual tours of the stable on Zoom?
montage of Christmas video clips
In the good old days, retailers simply wanted to make money. Now they like to moralise as well.
Not a Christian and don't celebrate Christmas? Don't worry, no one's perfect. Hopefully, we also have many Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and agnostics among our international subscribers. These readers can still enjoy the creativity and humour that retail marketing departments and advertising agencies have employed in a relentless assault on customer pockets...
The Aldi campaign celebrates the idea that all Aussies really deserve to have a whale of a time this festive season. As it is asking too much for snow in Oz during the current heatwave, we get lots of water and sun instead. Eight rather podgy-looking Father Christmases reveal hidden athletic talents by swimming in synchronicity as if they were Esther Williams.
So is Aldi dumbing us down Down Under? Sure, the skit feels a little soppy, but the creators are clearly trying to convey a sense of fun after all the serious issues customers have had to contend with in 2020. So remember to wear your bathing trunks next time you shop at Aldi, mate (creation & conception: Kreativagentur BMF).
The US online colossus is another retailer who can't resist putting the pandemic and the power of the community spirit in the centre of its festive advertising. For our seasonal edification, a young black ballerina overcomes all the obstacles which Covid puts in her way and realises her dreams thanks to the help of both friends and family.
Amazon claims that it was inspired to make this clip by humanity's insuperable spirit as shown so often during this year's crisis. An arrangement of 'The Show Must Go On' by pop group Queen serves as background music. It's good to know that secretive, but all-knowing Amazon is so compassionate. Doubtless the clip will warm the hearts of budding ballerinas not just in the UK but throughout the world (concept & creation: Lucky Generals).
Walmart's British hypermarket subsidiary Asda focusses on the joys of celebrating Christmas at home to the tune of the perky pop classic 'What Christmas means to me' by Stevie Wonder.
The video follows a real-life family during their seasonal preparations from putting up the lights to cooking the turkey. They are determined to make the best of things even when parties have to be much smaller than in previous years. Unlike its peers, the company ends on a price message rather than on a scene from a morality play (concept & creation: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO).
In its commercial, Intermarché wants us to know that Christmas is not just about gourmandising with one's family. Instead, the secretive French retailer cooperative says 'merci' to all the medical staff who have been working tirelessly on the front line during this (first) corona year.
In the fine French tradition of the sentimental chanteur, a balladeer sings in a way almost reminiscent of Léo Ferré in his more meditative moments. The message is clear, medical workers will care for us until their or our last breath (jusqu'à mon dernier souffle). Being Christmas, there is of course a happy ending, and all patients are released smiling from hospital to the joy of their anxious loved ones.
Obviously hospital personnel are only human and have to let off steam at times. However, it is not quite clear why the photo model protagonist also has to be a Taekwondo expert and practice his moves in a hospital corridor during his lunch breaks. He also seems to eat a lot of pizza, but it is not clear if these are meant to be deep-frozen, microwaveable Intermarché own label products.
The US department store operator makes a frontal assault on the tear glands with an emotional commercial based around social distancing in the time of Corona and a perfect celebration of friendship. The story shows a touching relationship between a little white girl and an older black lady who communicate with each other from window to window with colour felt tip pen messages. Mr Covid tries to get between them but fails.
Willie Nelson's cover of the song 'Rainbow Connection' from 'The Muppet Movie' helps to serve up another big lashing of American gush. Donald and Melania Trump get your handkerchiefs out (creation & conception: Yard NYC; director: Rodrigo Garcia Saiz).
The secretive German discount giant has used Disney-type figures to animate its British commercial while blending in real food products and prices. The high point is reached when a sizzling carrot is stabbed with a fork — doubtless a little joke at the expense of arch-rival Aldi's 'Kevin the Carrot' campaign.
This is accompanied by a female singer who chants along the lines of 'We don't need cute figures when our carrots taste so good'. It is so heart-warming to see Lidl entering into the spirit of Christmas in such competitive mode (ad agency: Karmarama).
The UK's leading grocer looks at this strange year with all its mishaps in a gentle, conciliatory, and happy tone. These include buying too much toilet paper, a domestic hairdo gone wrong, and forgetting to wash one's hands. Therefore, one should indulge oneself over Christmas and have fun even in the darkest of times.
It is somewhat incongruous, though, that Tesco of all people should keep banging on about being 'naughty' when — at least in the past — the retailer has pretended to the government that it is taking our society's growing obesity problem seriously.
At any rate the message, which will doubtless have Tesco's cash tills ringing merrily, is accompanied by the cheerful tune of 'Oops!...I did it again' by pop singer Britney Spears (concept & creation: BBH; production company: Somesuch).
Waitrose & John Lewis' Christmas TV spot also homes in on the pandemic. The moralising message is clear: We should show empathy and help one another instead of just giving presents in a perfunctory way. In a type of kindness 'light', partially animated figures and snowmen render good deeds to others without having to expend any great effort.
The clip was created by British music director Oscar Hudson, various animators, and university students who are probably feeling particularly holy this Christmas.
Australia's leading supermarket has bravely decided to give Christmas a completely new look. The seasonal song 'Sleigh Ride' by US composer Leroy Anderson provides the soundtrack. Woolworths' videoclip centres around a pair of carrot growers who receive a surprise visit from Father Christmas and his reindeer. (Why do creative agencies throughout the world have such a fixation on carrots? Is it something Freudian?).
It's all, apparently, part of the 'Aussie spirit' to share fresh produce with one another during the festive season. (Are then the days of Foster's Lager gone for ever?) At least this would seem to be the healthy message Woolies marketing boss Andrew Hicks wants to share with us (creation & conception: M&C Saatchi).
In a world-wide ad campaign, German online 'shoe-ting' star retailer Zalando concentrates on the poignancy of a Christmas governed by social distancing restrictions. But the digital company wants to send a 'message of hope' reminding us that there will be a time after Corona when 'We will hug again'. Good that we have Zalando to make us all human again (advertising agency: Anomaly, Berlin).
Our newspaper understands from the WHO that Father Christmas is immune to Covid-19 and is therefore authorised to distribute presents this year (illustration: Oliver Sebel)
All readers are invited to contribute their own favourite Christmas video. Just send a link and tell us why you find it amusing in the commentary box below.
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Our German retail B2B newspaper, Lebensmittel Zeitung, in print & digital
Read in German: 'Die besten Auftritte 2020' by online editors Jessica Becker and Doris Evans (paywall)