I know it is Christmas and I should be focusing on the enormous budgets of the big supermarket and perfume campaigns but through a combination of events I’ve skipped the lead up to Santa’s big day. In summary, Sainsbury’s got beaten up for exploiting the Great War, John Lewis went merchandising crazy, Tesco took use back to a brighter past with Flashdance, Aldi got out the crown Jools and the list goes on. I would say it is a mixed Santa sack this year, some big budget, some more sensible, some very safe, some just safe.
Sitting amongst all things festive there was this little bundle of joy in the form of the new Freeview ad from Leo Burnett. Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” is the kind of track that sets a real challenge to ad creatives. It is a huge song, massively uncool and yet everyone knows the words, immediately sings along and deep down loves it. How do you make an ad that isn’t in the shadow of the music? How do you avoid using the track as a backing to some schmaltzy montage of sad then happy beautiful people?
They have overcome all the challenges and created a piece of creative that should become the official music video, the competition for this role is not fierce, just see below. In field dominated by big budget Christmas ads it is hard to grab people’s attention but the Singing Toys have managed it, who doesn’t love the bit with the Wrestler toy. Well done Freeview and Leo Burnett, you have made Christmas better without even mentioning it.
While deep down I’m hoping that Christmas isn’t just around the corner, that would mean 2014 is all but done, it is hard to ignore the fact that Santa is on his way when the big budget Christmas ads start appearing. Like last year let’s start with Debenhams.
The ad depicts a bunch of kids in a closed department store looking for stuff they want to receive for Christmas. I’m sure if this was taking place in Tottenham it would be called looting but don’t worry they are all in the their pyjamas and dressing gowns and this is crime Debenhams style. But wait, the soundtrack to this jolly caper is the socialist anthem “We All Stand Together” by Sir Paul McCartney and Rupert Bear, so I think we should take this japery a little more seriously. Clearly these kids in their nice fluffy slippers are working as a team, coordinating the whole thing through Snapchat and BBM, and while the cameras are on they are only going for the cuddly toys but I bet they later moved on to TVs and trainers.
What is Debenhams saying with this music choice? Is this a rallying cry for the disenfranchised youth of today? Unlikely. “We All Stand Together” is certainly festive, after all it charted two Christmases in a row back in the 80’s, plus it has a choir. The problem is that nothing about this ad is surprising it feels like a Christmas shopping list written in May and completed in September. Maybe they could have tied the visual more to the music or possibly done something new with the song but as it is I’m not convinced I’ll be heading to Debenhams to do my Christmas shopping, after all I could be pick-pocketed by the Artful Dodger and his mates.
If you can’t face being a witness to the mindless looting of a Debenhams, simply watch the original video featuring the wonderful dapper Rupert Bear in a swamp.
Bah Humbug, Tesco have just gone destroyed the career of an unheard of artist by not giving them the chance to cover a track for their Christmas ad, I thought this was the season of giving. Anyhow in an ad that has more dodgy facial hair and jumpers than any of the competition the supermarket number 1 has chosen Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young“.
Have a good weekend.
While the whole world goes crazy about John Lewis’ campaign the other UK retailers are quietly putting out their ads. A brand with a pretty good record in the sonic branding world is Boots. In 2007 they invested heavily in a cover of the Ernie K-Doe’s track “Here Come the Girls”, turning a little known track into a Top 40 hit and a valuable piece of their branding. The combination of a perfectly matched chorus and consistent use meant it was pretty hard to hear the track without immediately linking it back to Boots.
Anyway they ditched the track last Christmas, making the switch away from a single track brand approach to campaign focused selections. Since then campaigns have featured tracks from Elton John (Now That’s What I Call Music 56), Fine Young Cannibals (Now That’s What I Call Music 15), Chris Rea (Now That’s What I Call Music 7, South Africa) and Deacon Blue (Now That’s What I Call Music 1988), all of which would resonate well with their audience.
So it comes as no surprise that for Christmas 2013 they have gone for another track that will make people dream of the good old days, Bronski Beat’s classic “Smalltown Boy” (Now That’s What I Call Music 3). In an ad that avoids the subtle story telling of John Lewis, Boots are hoping that a strong soundtrack will grab the viewers attention in a way that the visuals simply don’t.
I don’t think Boots made a mistake by moving on from “Here Come The Girls” it had possibly had its time but for me “Smalltown Boy” just doesn’t feel right for this Boots Christmas Campaign, I have no idea what it says about the brand and it says nothing about Christmas. To me it feels like someone has written a script about a boy who is a bit of a tearaway and lives in a small town, titled it “Small Town Boy” and then had a eureka moment on Spotify. On the upside at least they’ve not done a slow cover of it featuring a female vocal and an orchestra.