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Christmas Adverts 2021 Roundup Review

As we’ve given our lovely writers a little break over December, we thought it was the perfect time for some of the core team to do a festive review, and what better quality content is there this time of year than the UK’s pride and joy: Christmas adverts. So, sit back, relax and enjoy our irrationally strong opinions about fictional bananas and caterpillar cakes.

Disney

An animated image of a family (mum, dad, two kids and a dog) gathered around their kitchen counter. Baking utensils are scattered across the counter, and one of the children is mixing a batter.

Ellie

The concept: 5/10

Disney has become iconic in recent years for their short films with no dialogue. If you haven’t wasted a glorious afternoon exploring the entire Pixar shorts section of Disney+, that is my Christmas gift to you. Their 2021 Christmas advert The Stepdad ticks off most of the Pixar short essentials and it’s generally a cute watch. However, my favourite short features a scrappy kitten and a pitbull who form a beautiful friendship that no Christmas advert is ever going to beat. 

Cringe factor: 7/10

He needs to have a word with his dog. The whole advert could have been wrapped up (Christmas pun for you there) in 60 seconds if the dog would stop being a menace. I didn’t mind Micky and Minnie floating around everyone’s heads, that’s to be expected, but the dog really caught me off guard.

Number of tears: 1/10

Not to brag, but my tear ducts are overactive. Still, as a veteran of the Pixar short films, I thought they wouldn’t get me with such a commercially saturated story. If it wasn’t for the ‘Wakanda forever’ chest salute I’d have made it through unscathed. The quiet gesture tugged at my heartstrings and overall felt like the most genuine moment in the whole advert.

Is it a Christmas advert though?

This isn’t really a Christmas advert. It’s a Pixar short with a lot of cameos and glitter, but I still enjoyed it.

Georgia

The concept: 4/10

I mean… if I’m being pedantic, this did not feel like an advert at all, more like one of those short animations they sometimes show in the cinema before the main film. It was never going to top the one with the big bird sitting on the telephone wire, so really they were already on the back foot. 

Cringe factor: 7/10

I’m aware I’m probably not Disney’s target audience with this one, although I don’t think there was much in here for kids to enjoy either – the collapse of the gingerbread house (spoiler alert) was the most drama in the whole thing, and it all ended up feeling a bit sickly sweet.

Number of tears: 3/10

No one likes to see good gingerbread go to waste.

Is it a Christmas advert though? 

Christmas? Yes. An advert? Debatable.

Saskia

Concept: 6/10

I’ve never watched a Disney Christmas advert before, so I didn’t have much to compare this one to. I’d say it ticked all of the Disney boxes (a very sweet no-dialogue cartoon with a very wholesome message). It was no opening montage from Up, but I enjoyed it, predictability aside.

Cringe factor: 4/10

I only really cringed at myself getting a lump in my throat (seriously, anything even vaguely emotional with an emotional and or dramatic soundtrack to boot is going to get me in the feels). A nice touch of marketing from showing the Spiderman movie on the TV, other than that it just felt like watching a mundane Pixar short. 

Number of tears shed: 7/10 

Almost. They almost got me. 

Is it a Christmas advert though?

Spiritually, perhaps. Just not…literally. In any way really. But they’re the biggest media conglomerate in the world, so just for the sake of their self-esteem, I’ll let them off just this once.

Aldi

An animated image of a banana in a fancy dressing gown (representing Scrooge) and a carrot in a white nightgown, cap and beard (representing a ghost of Christmas). The carrot-ghost is floating in an open window, and appears to be trying to pull banana-Scrooge out of it. Outside, it is snowing and dark.

Ellie

The concept: 10/10

Listen, I’m biased. Aldi sells tampons for 68p and first borns for like 17p so it’s essentially theft every time I do a big shop. Aldi’s miscellaneous aisle is where I found my adulthood. We have an unbreakable bond. The concept for their Christmas advert is complex, ingenious and socially relevant: carrots are the best vegetables and bananas are far too full of themselves. 

Cringe factor: 100/10

Absolute perfection. Marcus Radishford meets Kevin the carrot, it’s all I’ve ever needed. Also, “this is for pudding up with me.” Stunning.

Number of tears: 1000/10

Did everyone see Cuthbert the caterpillar being arrested at the start of the advert? The greatest injustice of the 21st Century. If you have equally strong thoughts about the court case, please DM me and we can have a very heated conversation and storm M&S headquarters together.

Is it a Christmas advert though?

Charles Dickins wishes he was this creative. Human characters went out of fashion with The Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992. Keep up.

Saskia

The concept: 7/10

Just in case it wasn’t clear already, I’m a reviewer very much led by my emotions. That’s to say that if you show me a Dickensian era world full of anthropomorphic vegetables, I’m going to be a fan, regardless of any capitalist ulterior motives.

Cringe factor: 100/10

I mean…’You should try icing it’ said to an injured gingerbread man, and ‘this is for pudding up with me’ said with unbearable sincerity by Ebanana Scrooge at the end of the advert. Absolutely immaculate.

Number of tears shed: 1500/10

Marcus ‘Radishford’? Are you kidding me? Amazing, brilliant, spectacular, never been done before, extraordinary, out of this world, bloody adorable.

Is it a Christmas advert though?

A ridiculous cringe fest that made me almost well up and snort laugh in the span of twenty seconds. Absolutely it is.

Georgia

The concept: 0/10

Let’s get one thing straight: there is absolutely no point trying to do a remake of a Christmas Carol. Why? Because it’s NEVER GOING TO BE AS GOOD AS THE MUPPETS. 

Cringe factor: 9/10

See above point. To watch anyone even attempt to compete is just sad.

Number of tears: 10/10

Cried throughout. Not for the right reasons.

Is it a Christmas advert though? Peas and goodwill to all? Bah humbug.

M&S

A close up image of an animated Percy pig. Percy looks wistfully into the middle distance. Behind Percy is a floating Christmas fairy, scattering gold sparkles behind him.

Ellie

The concept: 0/10

Despite their very best efforts to win me round, including award-winning performances from Dawn French and Tom Holland, I cannot forgive them for the wrongful imprisonment of Cuthbert. I’m sure Percy Pig was not directly responsible for such a heinous act and wish him all the best in the hands of the cruel corporation led by Colin the Caterpillar.

Cringe factor: 0/10

I just wanted them to make a spider pig joke. It was right there.

Number of tears shed: 

I cry every day that Cuthbert is away from me.

Is it a Christmas advert though?

This is probably the most advert-y advert of the adverts we’re rating. The transition to a slow zoom on the Collection Smoked Salmon really sealed the deal.

Saskia

The concept: 6/10

Politely amusing, if a little boring. I find it hard not to believe that if Percy Pig did gain sentience, he would probably come out and say that he was the mastermind behind the M&S food empire. He’s just everywhere…all the time. He’s even on fizzy drinks bottles now? Does no one else take this as a sign that Percy Pig might turn out to be Big Brother in the near distant future? No? Just me? Okay, then, but if he does take over the planet and enslave us all, don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

I did exhale through my nose at least once, so that’s something. 

Cringe factor: 2/10

What is a Christmas advert without at least one self-indulgent eye-roll over something outlandish and expensive happening, with no relation to the shop or product in question? There was nothing for me to roll my eyes at here other than the fact that this was a food advert, not a Christmas ad. 

Number of tears shed: 1/10

I felt bad for not realising Percy was voiced by Tom Holland the first time round, but nice to know he’s made his debut in the PPCU (Percy Pig Cinematic Universe).

Is it a Christmas advert though? 

Not in my books. It’s the slightly more tolerable cousin of the (IMO) unbearably tone-deaf Waitrose Christmas advert. So whilst compliments to the chef for the very CGI looking spread, I think I’ll pass on this one too.

Georgia

The concept: 2/10

Am I the only one who thinks there’s just something a bit odd about the whole Percy Pig thing? Like, this is essentially an overpriced bag of sweets that’s somehow now a full-blown animated character with his own line of merch, being voiced by Spider Boy himself Tom Holland. The whole attempt to make Percy cool just feels… wrong. I’m getting Matt Hancock at the Capital Jinglebell Ball vibes. 

Cringe factor: 8/10 

Even Dawn French couldn’t save this one. 

Number of tears shed: 0/10

Is it a Christmas ad though? 

This is not just a shit Christmas ad. This is an M&S shit Christmas ad.

John Lewis

Two children peer over a ledge, looking in to the distance. One is a black child in a woolly hat, the other is a pale, white child. She is an alien. Behind them are trees.

Ellie

The concept: 2013/10

Back in 2013, John Lewis released The Bear and the Hare which has a very similar message about unforgettable Christmases. The natural progression of this is of course making the bear an alien. If Jeff Bezos can go into Space, so can John Lewis. 

Cringe factor: how old is the alien/10

My one gripe with the advert is the age of the alien. Is this a Doctor Who situation or are they star-crossed soul mates? I don’t know. That’s hard to convey in 2 minutes so maybe I’ll just give the creators the benefit of the doubt.

Number of tears shed: 7/10

 I was on my period.

Is it a Christmas advert though?

If we take the heart-warming message from the story, one of bringing people together and making magical memories, then John Lewis have created a decent Christmas advert. However, if we apply the overzealous eye of an English Literature grad, we discover the true message: corporations prepare for the impending alien invasion by stocking up the scouting spaceships with branded merch in the hopes of signing the intergalactic deal of a lifetime.

Saskia

The concept: 4/10

Whilst I can appreciate the nod to E.T with the small-child-stumbles-upon-a-friendly-alien-plot, John Lewis’ alien (apparently called Skye) left a bad taste in my mouth (why does she have to be gendered? And covered in glitter make-up? And why, oh God why, did there need to be a romantic twist in a story about a boy meeting an alien?) 

Cringe factor: 12 /10 

See above. 

Number of tears shed: -2/10

See above. 

Is it a Christmas advert though?

Is it? Are aliens actually Christmassy? I mean this one looked like White Queen from Narnia, but taken out of the context of that film…it was just a weird, sadly gendered alien who wanted to kiss a little boy and potentially take over the planet. I pull a grimace every time I see it on TV, which is not the vibe I am after! Let the search for a good advert continue.

Georgia

The concept: 6/10

I’ll level with you, my Christmas advert consumption has been disappointingly low this year; mainly because I don’t actually have a telly, so I’ve been pretty much constrained to whatever 3 adverts 4OD has lovingly decided to play on rotation until the end of time. Anyway, there was something decidedly unfestive about watching all of these on Youtube, and I’m sure they didn’t have the desired effect on me as a result. Having said that, I did still quite enjoy this one, so 6 is a solid score. 

Cringe factor: 4/10

Cringe kind of goes with the territory, but overall I didn’t think this one was too bad. Although I do have a burning hatred for slow covers of pop songs, so points dropped for that. 

Number of tears shed: 7/10

Mainly because the boy doesn’t get on the spaceship with the alien girl at the end. Get off this Omicron riddled planet while you can!

Is it a Christmas ad though?

Look, it’s never going to top that one they did with the rabbit and the hare, but for a year as shit as 2021 it’s probably the best we’re going to get.

Merry Christmas, rrramble readers. We’ll see you in 2022.

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