I can always tell that Christmas is around the corner when the iconic Coca-Cola advert is shown on TV. It’s just not Christmas until I’ve seen those corny, big, red trucks driving along in the snow. Television adverts form a large part of the Christmas buzz, with companies frantically attempting to promote their goods, products or services in the rush up to the big event. However, recently, Christmas adverts seem to be doing more than just promoting their company. Many are telling stories and creating special Christmas campaigns which become symbolic for the company itself. Is this art? Or is this just another form of capitalist propaganda?
The epitome of the artistic 2013 Christmas advert has to be the recent John Lewis ‘The Bear and The Hare’ advert. The latest ad follows on from the success of their 2011 and 2012 adverts, one featuring a very cute little boy who can’t wait for Christmas, the other a snowman who makes a treacherous journey in order to give a snowwoman a gift. Over the years the company have become more and more creative with their Christmas advertising campaigns, creating some of the most memorable adverts of all time.
Every year the advert has featured a slow, soft and enchanting cover of a famous song and this year Lily Allen took on Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know. Whilst some fans of the original song have criticised Allen’s version of the single, its number one position in the UK singles chart for the past two weeks proves its popularity. If we consider music as a type of art form, then the song must be recognised as part of the art of the advert. Furthermore, the advert’s likeness to a Disney masterpiece cannot go unrecognised. Spending £7 million on the campaign, John Lewis have practically created a short animated film with ‘The Bear and The Hare’. It has a strong narrative, interesting characters, a tear-jerking moral and an enchanting soundtrack. Many would recognise it as a type of creative art, perhaps a new form of advertising that is coming to the forefront of British culture. After all, this is not the first advert to use a film-like structure. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola’s recent creation for Prada Candy is also a cinematic style television advert, one which, notably (and much to my delight), has been placed back on our screens for the holiday season.
Whilst product promotion does not seem to be at the heart of the John Lewis advert, with the alarm clock making just a brief cameo, this new type of advertising is perhaps even more dangerous to consumers than the traditional forms. The advert is emotive, it’s magical and it places John Lewis at the forefront of our minds as a company that we can rely on to bring that Christmas happiness to a loved one. But with profits which rise into the billions, is this type of advertising dangerous for consumers? Are we creating a new, more artistic way of advertising or are we simply fuelling the capitalist machine? One thing is for sure, these Christmas adverts are vital in forming part of that special cheer that is associated with this time of year.