From psy­cho­pathic root veg­eta­bles to tur­keys that look like ex­cel­lent hus­band ma­te­rial, this year’s crop of Christ­mas TV ads is giv­ing me the dread feels

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - PATRICK FREYNE -

Ever since that clas­sic ESB ad trapped a young Alan Hughes into a life­time of do­ing panto, we’ve known that Christ­mas ad­ver­tise­ments were creepy and weird. There is a steady un­der­cur­rent of hor­ror in all such ads, but this year’s crop have de­cided to make the sub­text text. To quote some other pub­li­ca­tions, these ads are “guar­an­teed to give you feels”; how­ever, those “feels” might be dis­ori­en­ta­tion and dread.

Al di: Kevin the Car rot re­turns

Kevin the Car­rot first ap­peared two years ago travers­ing a din­ner ta­ble that must have ap­peared, to his car­roty eyes, like a bat­tle­field, filled as it was with dead, wounded and groan­ing food­stuffs. It quickly be­came clear that he didn’t give a damn. That wit­less root veg­etable is a psy­chopath.

Last year, he mated with another car­rot. This year he re­turns in two dis­turb­ing ads. In the first, he saves his cursed car­rot prog­eny from the machi­na­tions of an evil parsnip. (I have no no­tion of how this fits into the story of Christ’s birth, to be hon­est with you. Some­times it feels like Aldi’s the­olo­gians are freestyling.)

Then, in a fur­ther af­front to God, Kevin drives a big lorry sim­i­lar to the clas­sic Coca-Cola lorry of Christ­mas ad­ver­tise­ments past. What is he do­ing driv­ing that truck? He ap­pears to be tak­ing a crateload of fel­low car­rots to their doom like some sort of car­rot-traf­fick­ing Bene­dict Arnold. The ad­ver­tise­ment ends with the lorry jack-knif­ing in the snow and tee­ter­ing over a treach­er­ous abyss . . . much like our cul­ture.

T KM a xx: The Never end­ing Stock­ing

An or­di­nary woman shop­ping at TK Maxx finds an in­fin­itely long sen­tient tube that belches and spews presents all the year around. The fact that this be­ing hap­pens to be candy-striped and is os­ten­si­bly a “Christ­mas stock­ing” doesn’t take away from the fact it is also an im­pos­si­ble eter­nal worm that man­i­fests her ev­ery de­sire.

“What do you want with us?” you ask of this Love­craftian abom­i­na­tion.

“Who cares? Your greed will be re­warded by a crea­ture from hell. Just lean into it,” the ad sug­gests, which is, now that I check the lit­er­a­ture, TK Maxx’s brand prom­ise. I was hop­ing the ad might end with the woman gen­er­at­ing a hor­rif­i­cally in­fi­nite foot to fit into the never-end­ing stock­ing but I was dis­ap­pointed. I did like the scream that sound­tracked the ad. But then when it ended I re­alised that that was just me.


Self-aware Ama­zon pack­ages sing the Jack­son Five’s Can You Feel It? as they are de­liv­ered around the UK by their will­ing flesh drones (peo­ple). No­body seems put out by their un­stop­pable, tax-avoidant march. In­stead, of­fice work­ers, hos­pi­tal staff and chil­dren alike are all charmed and de­lighted by the sight of them. Even the Ama­zon ware­house work­ers smile (se­ri­ously) de­spite their inse­cure con­tracts, elec­tronic mon­i­tors and reg­u­lar searches.

There are no dis­senters. I mean, who wants to face a street full of peo­ple point­ing at them and scream­ing like Don­ald Suther­land while in­hu­man sil­i­con ten­drils hi­jack and hack their brains? So, I sup­pose, I agree that it is good that Jeff Be­zos has done this. We love Jeff Be­zos. We are all Ama­zo­ni­ans now, gripped with strange joy as we face the ap­proach­ing sin­gu­lar­ity.

Ar­gos: The Christ­mas Fool

In this ad­vert, a small nude weirdo ru­ins Christ­mas with acts of malev­o­lent van­dal­ism un­til a de­liv­ery man from Ar­gos steps on him. Yes, it’s ba­si­cally your life as you out­lined it in your mem­oir, What Are You Gonna Do About It? You should sue.

M& S: Christ­mas Favourites

“This year we trav­elled the coun­try ask­ing peo­ple what is their M&S Christ­mas favourite,” says the posh lady voiceover be­fore bor­ing peo­ple with their bor­ing heads get in the way of footage of suc­cu­lently leak­ing meats and pud­dings.

“Leave me be, I would be alone with the food,” you shout at the bor­ing peo­ple as you tuck your nap­kin into your col­lar and un­buckle your belt, but they don’t lis­ten. It’s all over by the time you start lick­ing the screen.

Waitrose: Mistle­toe

“Here you go, you filthy pigs, gnaw on this,” seems to be the unifying sen­ti­ment of most glut­tony-based brands these days. In this ad­vert Waitrose claim that their food is so good the hu­man race will forego pro­cre­ation in or­der to eat it. And so here a young woman sug­gests a kiss be­neath the mistle­toe to a man called Si­mon be­fore be­ing in­stantly dis­tracted by the prom­ise of some porno­graph­i­cally filmed tur­key, stuff­ing and cran­berry sauce. I can see where she’s com­ing from.

Si­mon seems like a bit of a drip and that tur­key looks like ex­cel­lent hus­band ma­te­rial. So, Si­mon is left there, his lips pursed, con­tem­plat­ing (prob­a­bly) a life alone, Christ’s birth and how a co­er­cively sex­ual plant par­a­site has some­how sur­vived four waves of fem­i­nism.

Heathrow bears

The Heathrow bears are back and this time they’ve moved to Florida, where they’re just not feel­ing the Christ­mas spirit. So they shuf­fle adorably home to Lon­don via Heathrow to visit their fam­ily, only for it to be re­vealed, in the last frame, that they have trans­formed into el­derly hu­mans.

Now, I don’t want to panic any­body, but this is big. OLD PEO­PLE ARE SE­CRETLY BEARS. We must spend Christ­mas mak­ing them ad­mit this (and not get­ting them to re­draft their wills as I had pre­vi­ously planned).

John Lewis: The Boy and the Pi­ano fea­tur­ing El­ton John

I’ve an­a­lysed this John Lewis ad be­fore, so let me just say that – spoiler alert – the twist is that El­ton John was a child once. The ad cy­cles back­wards through the mu­si­cal mil­lion­aire’s life un­til we see Li’l El­ton gifted a pi­ano on Christ­mas morn­ing. Then we see his sad face to­day as he plays Your Song on that same pi­ano.

“Life is pain, buy pi­anos,” as the fa­mil­iar John Lewis tagline goes.

Amer­i­can Trea­sures: Me­la­nia un­veils the White House dec­o­ra­tions

This is an ad for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­ally. A caped and ex­pres­sion­less Me­la­nia wan­ders alone through her ice palace (the White House) flanked by blood red trees and baubles etched with the catch­phrase “be best” (the sig­na­ture is­sue to which this catch­phrase refers is “bul­ly­ing”, ap­par­ently, and not “gram­mar”).

Here’s the twist: she doesn’t even know that it’s Christ­mas. There are no cal­en­dars in Me­la­nia Trump’s end­less hellscape. No, she just likes to find dead things and store them in her house. It’s her hobby. This month her “col­lec­tion” hap­pens, by yule­tide co­in­ci­dence, to be trees. Next month it might be swans or truck driv­ers or Match At­tax cards.

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