Hey Youtubers – read the rules

In light of the ASA’s blog on promotional vlogs, it might be worth the ASA having a look at YouTube’s own community standards. These state:

4E. You agree not to use the Service (including the YouTube Player) for any of the following commercial uses unless you obtain YouTube’s prior written approval: [these include] … the sale of advertising, sponsorships or promotions placed on or within the Service, or Content.

4K. You agree not to solicit, for commercial purposes, any users of the Website with respect to their Content.

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Christmas Ad Review: Aldi ‘Everyone’s coming to us this Christmas’

This is what Christmas looked like until John Lewis created the “Christmas ad”. There’s no hashtag in the title. It just show people having Christmas dinner. The message: it’s not only poor people who shop at Aldi anymore!!!

The problems:

1. This is a boring ad. It’s not really a special ad. If you read my other reviews, you’ll see I’m not too hot on ads like John Lewis’ and Sainsbury’s because they try to focus too heavily on what makes Christmas different.  But this ad is just boring…

2. Which leads me on to Jools Holland. What’s the point of Jools Holland in this ad? He plays piano, smiles and says Merry Christmas everyone. Why bother?

Christmas Ad Review: Boots #SpecialBecause

Great, another advert with a hashtag in the title. Don’t brands realise that anyone who is likely to post about an ad on social media will have figured out they can put a hashtag on the post without the need to put a hashtag in title? (See my earlier post on what I call “sharebait” videos created by advertising agents who want to show how successful their ads have been on the basis that lots of people tweet about them).

So, that’s a hashtag (tick). What about a slightly breathless folky song for the backing track (tick). …  It can only be a Christmas ad. That can mean only one thing: a narrative about people’s everyday experiences of Christmas with little or no relevance to the brand on offer (tick, tick, tick, tick, tick!).

Here’s my issues with this ad:

1. As with the Sainsbury’s ad, the hero is a public sector worker (in this case a nurse). Everyone likes nurses, right. Well, yes we like to pity them. Not pay them. In October thousands of nurses went on strike in the UK over their pay and conditions.

2. Why not show any of the Boots workers who are there to help the back-packing girl who hasn’t bothered to get her Mum a present until Christmas day? They are working on Christmas too. And while I’m at it, the girl’s been in some exotic country and come home for Christmas. I”m sure her Mum would be thrilled but secretly disappointed that she’d got some Boots smelly thing as a present.

3. What about the poor guy in the high-vis jacket on the bus. I wonder why he’s not the focus of the ad?

Christmas Ad Review: Sainsbury’s “Christmas is for sharing”

In this ad we see a recreation of a famous Christmas Day football game played by the opposing sides in World War 1. I’m no historian so I can’t vouch for the ad’s accuracy. It’s obviously a lovely story about the triumph of human empathy in even the most horrific and horrendous circumstances. If the aim is to keep the story alive then the ad is great.

But I just don’t get why Sainsbury’s have produced this. It’s not an ad to promote the memories of the Christmas truces. It’s an ad for Sainsbury’s. The logo and tagline at the end are really quite unnecessary. If they really wanted to they could have made the exact same ad without Sainsbury’s logo or tagline on and it would be much better. I, for one, would also like Sainsbury’s more for it.

UPDATE: Just seen an article on the Guardian saying basically the same thing as my review.

Christmas Ad Review: John Lewis ‘#MontyThePeguin’

Oh John Lewis. Last year you create a tradition: the Christmas ad. Sadly, I think you might have killed the tradition this year. Last year the ad was evocative and powerful. This year, for me, it’s just weird.

First, does John Lewis sell penguins? What’s the deal with the hashtag in the title?

But look more deeply, and the ad has a real sinister undertone.Why does this kid project feelings of sexual frustration, isolation and loneliness onto his penguin toy?

In “The Case of Little Hans“, Freud provides a psychoanalysis of a similar child. In this example, the child adopted a phobia of horses. Why? For various reasons, he concentrated anxieties and fears he felt towards his father, a feeling that he might be unloved when his sister was born and because of his desire for his mother. (To read more about psychoanalysis and Christmas why not read my 2011 paper ‘The organization of Santa: fetishism, ambivalence and narcissism‘)

Watch the John Lewis ad again, bearing this in mind. See how his parents show him almost no affection. At the start of the ad he’s in his room watching TV alone. Then, he’s playing hide and seek on his own. Then lego. Then trampoline. Then football. Where are this kid’s parents? Towards the end of the spot, he’s even on the bus on his own. Then instead of opening their presents together, he’s made to open his one present on his own under the watching glare of his mother.

Whenever the kids parents are shown, their faces are left out or blurred. We see his parents walking past his hiding hole – ignoring their child. A man walking alongside him as he plays football, not playing with him. He eats at the table on his own. Look at the fear in his eyes. His parent’s sit together on the sofa with another child, he has to make do with a beanbag.

The conclusion: this is really a deep representation of a dysfunctional modern family with undertones of domestic abuse. The child projects his need to be loved by a warming loving couple onto the penguin. Or his parents are unable to hide their hatred of the child who ruined their otherwise stellar careers and perfect lives – which would have allowed them to buy everything from John Lewis not just some cheap penguin toy.

Christmas Ads Review: Burberry ‘From London with Love’

This advert is centered around Romeo Beckham – the son of Victoria and David Beckham – cause, you know, he’s A BECKHAM. It’s not the first ad he’s been in for the brand.

The ad itself is quite pretty and has a great Ed Harcourt song (yay for Ed Harcourt). But the whole ‘From London with Love’ schtick is a annoying. Here’s two reasons why:

1. Romeo Beckham. Born in London in 2002, yes but in 2003, his family moved to Madrid. Then in 2007 David Beckham moved to LA. Is he really the most representative image of London?

2. Burberry. The Guardian reported in 2012 about how false Burberry’s Made in Britain appeal was. It states:

‘Five years ago, the workers in Treorchy’s 70-year-old Burberry factory fought a long, bitter and ultimately unsuccessful struggle to stop their jobs – 300 of them – going to China. Three years ago, 170 workers at Burberry’s Rotherham factory met the same fate. Another 130 jobs went at its two remaining factories in Yorkshire. … I interviewed Cartwright [Burberry executive] back in 2007. Moving jobs to China was, she said, “sad, but inevitable”. The company had “no regrets”. It was “absolutely the right decision … it costs twice as much to produce a polo shirt in Wales as it does anywhere else.”

So, the only thing made in London is (possibly) the advertising and the music. Oh, and the Guardian report says the cost of manufacturing a £55 Burberry polo shirt is £4. Hope you don’t get one for Christmas.