Christmas 2016 Lookback
An awful lot happened in the news during 2016, both nationally and globally. Well-loved celebrities passed away, the political landscape turned upside down, things were becoming a little more uncertain, and the damned Go Compare guy was back on our screens. The idea of having mega-extravagant advertising campaigns during these times jarred a little, and so the run-up to Christmas 2016 felt very dialled back as a result. There were still plenty of highlights, though, and where better to begin than with the cornerstone of the Christmas Run-Up, John Lewis?

The John Lewis Phenomenon

We here at Christmas UK may begin our run-up in mid-September when we hit the 100-days-to-go milestone, but for many the excitement begins in the first or second week of November when the John Lewis advert hits the screens. It’s cemented itself as part of our culture to such a degree that art students are now using it for the basis of their projects. 18-year-old Bournemouth-based A-Level student Nick Jablonka hit the big time when his own attempt at a John Lewis ad (titled “The Snowglobe”) went viral. The quality was so high that hundreds of thousands of people viewed it, mistaking it for that year’s official Christmas advert.

With the appetizer served, the nation settled down in front of their screens waiting for the big reveal. It used to be that adverts would launch on TV one evening during Coronation Street or X Factor, but with the brands cottoning onto the fact that ad space during these times is hellishly expensive, they have now got into the habit of launching their ads on YouTube at breakfast time, and letting word-of-mouth finish off the job. Aldi reflected, and some may say lampooned, the UK’s mood as they kept hitting refresh on John Lewis’ YouTube page.

And then the magic hour of about-half-seven-in-the-morning arrived, and the John Lewis Christmas advert dropped onto YouTube...

We here at Christmas UK are probably a little more cynical than we should be, but for us, John Lewis fell into the same trap that they’ve been caught in over the past few years where their Christmas advert lacks the humanity of the season, and this time around they barely recognised the season itself. Yes, it’s fun to see the animals flapping about in mid-air in slow-mo, but as a plot it’s paper-thin, and the wispy joke itself wears out pretty quickly.

Naturally the release of the traditional John Lewis advert is followed by the now-traditional release of the spoof John Lewis adverts, and Argos were quickest off the mark by getting this out onto our screens within hours, featuring one of the yeti stars of their own Christmas ad.

Ah well… You cannot deny the sheer amount of creative talent that goes into John Lewis’ campaigns, no matter what time of year they are launched in. Hopefully this time around they’ll be a little more festive, and celebrate the people whose holiday this is. Throughout their flagship stores, John Lewis laid on a display of their Christmas adverts represented as Lego models, possibly to remind us how good their adverts can be.

Within John Lewis itself, it was business as usual - including offering a Christmas tree decorating service. For £450 a tree. Ouch...

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