Believe it or not but I have managed to get to December 19th without having seen a Xmas TV ad. I was away when they all went live and I guess my TV consumption has been mostly on catch-up (other than Strictly with no ads) and I have been unaware of the normal social noise around them.
But I saw this review and noted the comments about M&S as a brand that should be creating culture and not borrowing from it, which I thought was interesting. I think most brands harness cultural trends - they identify what is happening and are happy to align themselves with those that are relevant and resonate with their brand.
It requires real brand bravery and intelligence to inspire behaviour and thus create a culture. Red Bull comes to mind with its association with extreme sport and out-there activity, and I guess you could say that Coca Cola created the biggest cultural shift of all when it made Father Christmas red not green.
But I am not sure that M&S is that type of brand; but I did love their ad and I thought it was carried through nicely into their shops and products. Having now watched all the ads, I think my favourite is from Waitrose - I loved the sense of community it created and the meal that was jointly created, from Waitrose products of course! I thought it was authentic and definitely in tune with our times!
Talking of characters, M&S has roped in (hopefully not literally) Paddington Bear. The ursine scamp mistakes a burglar for Kris Kringle and takes him on an enjoyable romp round the posh parts of London – thus fulfilling the ancient prophecy that this is "the time that every Santa has a ball." It’s beautifully done, there’s a good brand fit and the association has been taken through-the-line. At the risk of being a strategic Scrooge, I just feel a brand of M&S’ stature should be creating culture at this time of year, rather than borrowing from it.