Mother of All Christmases

By Cooke, Rachel | New Statesman (1996), December 7, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Mother of All Christmases


Cooke, Rachel, New Statesman (1996)


Festive adverts

Various channels

It's probably not terribly radical of me to write, in the pages of this magazine, that I hate Christmas commercials. But still, I do. For one thing, I wonder about all the people who are broke, for whom this nightly parade of stuff they can't afford must be torture. For another, there's the knowledge--prissy this, but what the hell; everyone knows that my knickers are made of worsted and come right up to my disapproving armpits--that Sylvanian Families, Lego Friends and the electronic dance version of Twister are not necessary to human happiness, and that even those of us who aren't broke could spend our money more wisely. And then there's the special loathing I feel for Iceland, whose ads--drum roll please, as we open the chest freezer--seem mostly to feature canapes as created by Aubrey from Mike Leigh's Life Is Sweet. Lasagne bites, oriental duck pyramids and, to follow, mini pink custard slices. Given the choice, I prefer a generous slice of Aubrey's pork cyst.

The John Lewis advert is supposed to be the big one, or so the Daily Mail keeps telling us (lately, the Mail seems to love John Lewis almost as much as it hates Marks 8( Spencer, a state of affairs that should last at least until Liz Jones is despatched to its womenswear department in search of "disappointing" shoes and "frumpy" underwear). This year's ad is called The Journey, as if the director thinks he's Fass-binder, and features a snowman who heads off to a well-known department store to buy his snowgirlfriend a pair of gloves. It's a struggle for him to get there because snowmen don't have legs--at one point, he can be seen standing mournfully on the hard shoulder of a motorway--but he makes the effort because, well, that's what you do at Christmas, isn't it? You are Mallory, the shops are Everest, and you stop at nothing in your effort to comb their furthest reaches.

Personally, I'm baffled by it. Given that most five-year-olds don't own a Mastercard, who's it aimed at?

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