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Christmas ads give out the wrong message


By Nicky Marr


I can’t get excited by Christmas in November. With three exceptions (which I promise I will come to), I prefer to leave all my festive planning and celebrations until December.

The minute the calendar changes you will find me in the loft digging out the Christmas boxes. I’ll be swapping my regular handbag for an extremely kitsch (and now very tatty) one, which is adorned with a 1950s sequinned festive scene.

I’ll also start getting my Christmas music playlists in order and will get Operation Home-made Mince Pies 2019 under way. But until December 1 (with my three exceptions), Christmas should not even be mentioned.

Which is why Sunday night saw me in full-on grumpy mode when I was trying to watch the launch programme of I’m a Celebrity… is it too early to call Caitlyn Jenner as Queen of the Jungle? Sunday night was ITV’s big night for launching Christmas ads too, so we were bombarded with the full chorus of them.

John Lewis seem a little wide of the mark this year. Edgar the dragon is cute enough, in spite of managing to melt a snowman, nearly drown a couple of ice-skating kids and set the decorations on fire. The message (I think!) is that no matter the faults we each have, there is enough good in all of us to warrant a John Lewis gift.

I’m sure Edgar would be delighted with either the £450 hair-styler or the £150 sock advent calendar on their website’s home page…

As an out-and-proud foodie snob, perhaps I’m not the target market for the McDonald’s Christmas advert, but are they now selling reindeer snacks? The closest I can see on their menu that might be good for our lichen-eating friends from the tundra is a bag of carrot sticks. I did say I wasn’t the target market.

Blythswood's Highland Foodbank is asking people to donate using its 'reverse Advent calendar' available at www.blythswood.org
Blythswood's Highland Foodbank is asking people to donate using its 'reverse Advent calendar' available at www.blythswood.org

But the worst offender of all is this year’s Ikea Christmas ad. In it, a family’s ornaments start complaining that the house isn’t smart enough for the family to have guests round – the table and mirror are too old, for starters. The family responds in the only sensible manner: they go to Ikea, and completely redecorate to make their home good enough for guests.

Is this the message we really want to be sending out? Ikea claim their ad is ‘hilarious’, but I disagree – it sends a message that homes filled with second-hand, old, or sentimental pieces of furniture are not good enough for our friends and family.

What absolute rot. Our house is full of stuff we’ve had for 20 years or more. Every stick of furniture, every ornament, every picture on the wall is full of memories. It’s an eclectic mix of well-loved furniture, with (I believe) a homely lived-in feel.

I don’t live in a showhouse and I won’t be shamed by Ikea, or anyone else, into ‘upgrading’ before Christmas. Are friends and family coming to see us, or coming to be impressed by our interior décor?

This hardly fits in with the current zeitgeist for re-purposing and upcycling.

So, with that all off my chest, here are my three exceptions to the Christmas-in-December rule:

First – Christmas carols. I’m a proud and happy member of the lovely St Stephen’s Community Choir in Inverness, and our charity carol concerts will take place the week before Christmas. We want to be good – we need to be good! – so rehearsals of Christmas songs began back in October, and I love it.

Second – It’s important to me that we see everyone in the family over the festive period, and there are quite a few of us. Working out who is going to be where, and when, started mid-September.

And the third exception is the reverse advent calendar for Highland Foodbank, organised by Blythswood Care.

From Blythswood’s Facebook page I printed off the list of suggested items that Highland food banks are short of; things like tinned ham and fruit, and jars of coffee and jam. Razor blades, shaving foam, shampoo and shower gel are on there too. Then I took myself off round the supermarket and bought the lot – it came to just shy of £35.

I’ll get it to them before December so it can be distributed in time. It’s just a token, but if it helps someone else get through a day or two this Christmas, my money is better spent on that than on replacing perfectly good furniture.

And who needs a £150 sock advent calendar anyway?



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