David Reviews

 Biting the hand that feeds us since 2002.

DAVID'S CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

Planning for some Christmas campaigns must begin on January 1st... if not earlier. So many retailers bank on a big Christmas to round off the year and the pressure this places on their advertising agencies is immense.

It probably doesn't help that so many online journals and newspapers are currently compiling their favourites but - what the hell - let's do ours.


John Lewis: We open with the most eagerly anticipated Christmas ad of the year... how could we not? The media appear to have formally designated the first broadcast of the John Lewis ad as the official start of the festive season and - once again - the snarkers were out in force to point out that this year's effort is not as good as in previous years.

The problem for John Lewis is that they're a hard act to follow. The reputation established by their previous success combined with the annual anticipation of their Christmas ad creates an impossible level of expectation. But it still generates a massive online response and remains - for the time being - the one to beat.



KFC: 2016 is going to go down in history as a year of exceptional misery and turmoil. In part this is because English-speaking voters collectively decided that the only way they could vent their frustration was to commit acts of electoral self-harm. Blue collar Americans elected Donald Trump while the British working class decided they'd had enough of the egalitarianism of the EU.

Although Brexit has been the most talked-about event of the year in this country, you still wouldn't expect advertising agencies to identify it as a fitting topic for a Christmas commercial. But that's exactly what KFC decided to do in this amusing commercial featuring a Brexit-themed nativity play.



Marks & Spencer: RKCR's parting gift as M&S move their account to Grey is this spectacular commercial directed by Tom Hooper - and starring Janet McTeer as Santa's well-organised wife. As her husband sets off on his annual gift-giving extravaganza, Mrs Claus makes time to deal with a request sent for her attention.

Hooper imbues it with Hollywood production values but it could do with a slightly lighter touch and it's weighed down by the most cloyingly awful VO performance from a child you're ever likely to hear.



Sainsbury's: Like Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's parted company with their advertising agency while the Christmas commercial was being made so this too is something of a farewell gift.

In recent years, Sainsbury's appear to have deliberately set out to challenge John Lewis's position as Christmas top dog and they've once again shown a full-on commitment. James Corden sings a song written by Flight Of The Conchords star Bret McKenzie as we watch an animated tale illustrating how stretched we are to perform all the required tasks at this time of year.



Apple: Christmas is no time to be lonely, according to Apple's seasonal communication, and that's true even if you're a reanimated monster created by Dr Frankenstein.

The scary-looking fellow ventures forth into the local village and tries to spread some Christmas cheer by singing a little ditty to the nervous-looking crowd but it's only when an intrepid young girl adds her voice to his that he gains the acceptance he's sought.



H & M: Wes Anderson's film for H & M is so distinctly Wes Anderson's style that it almost looks like a parody of the great man's work.

It follows the activity of a highly-efficient train guard who realises his passengers are going to be trapped aboard his vehicle on Christmas Day. Not wanting them to miss out on the seasonal celebrations, he quickly cobbles together everything he needs to create a memorable day for them all.



Tesco: The introduction of the new Tesco family has not been a smooth exercise. Ruth Jones and Ben Miller have taken a while to get into their stride and the young actor playing their son felt entirely inappropriate.

But BBH have persevered and the main Christmas ad - focussing almost entirely on Jones - manages to encapsulate our love-hate relationship with the festive season. She runs through the full gamut of Christmas emotions as she initially dreads the recurrence of annual celebration before remembering all the aspects she likes about it.



Waitrose: Some have questioned its ornithological accuracy while others have noticed a similarity between Waitrose's Christmas ad and its stablemate John Lewis.

But the first point is silly - this isn't a David Attenborough documentary - and the second point ignores the fact that a greater synergy between the two highly respected retailers' advertising is no bad thing.

This ad manages to convey a sense that Waitrose is the perfect destination for the more discerning shopper precisely because it's imbued with those John Lewis values.



Aldi: The low-price supermarket have taken the unusual step of incorporating the food into the 'adventure' in their Christmas ad. Not only does the story follow an intrepid carrot, it has him making his way across a heavily laden dinner table.

The food photography is normally quite separate in the Christmas ads but here an appetising mountain of roast potatoes and a Chrstimas pudding shrouded in blue flames are part of Kevin's playground.



Heathrow: A pair of teddy bears make their way through Heathrow in this sweet reunion-based commercial. Contrary to what you might expect if you've ever been there, the duo are having a very relaxed time at one of the world's busiest airports as a poignant Chas 'N' Dave track plays in the background.

The 'reveal' identifies them as grandparents rather than cuddly toys and the transformation is very touching.



HP: This tale of two brothers has the younger trying to understand the other's love of music, something made incredibly difficult by the deafness he's afflicted with.

Seeing his frustration, the older brother sets out to give his sibling some insight into the world of music and coming up with an ingenious scheme to achieve his goal.



Allegro: This Polish commercial has been identified across the media as this year's most emotional Christmas ad. It opens with an elderly man setting out to learn English.

We follow his progress as he determinedly becomes ever more confident until we finally discover the purpose behind his mission. Part of the enjoyment of this comes from the knowledge of near-apoplexy it must provoke among Brexiteers.



Amazon Prime: This ad depicts a friendship between an imam and a priest that has both recognising that the other is in need of something to ease the physical pain of worshipping their respective Gods.

It's another commercial bound to enrage those terrified of the unifying force of solidarity which - again - makes it all the sweeter for anyone who values harmony over divisiveness.


Stories

B-REEL FILMS BECOME BRF.

B-Reel Films have rung the changes in 2017 by rebranding themselves as BRF.


BOSCH PEPS UP FRIEND LONDON

Award-winning Spanish director Pep Bosch signs to Friend London for UK representation.


TOM NOAKES FLOCKS TO PRETTYBIRD.

Filmmaker and skateboarding fanatic Tom Noakes has signed for Prettybird.


ALEX TURNER ARRIVES AT FAT LEMON.

Commercial director and documentary filmmaker Alex Turner has joined Fat Lemonís carefully assembled roster for representation.


ANDREA JADE COLOMB IS AN OUTSIDER

Outsider have snagged South African-born director AJ Colomb for their roster.


CRACKING LINE-UP FOR CRAFTWORKS.

Our first CraftWorks of 2017 takes place on January 25th. In the morning. At the LSE Student Union building. It's going to be great. Come along.


SOUND CAREER ADVICE.

The RAFís intelligence wing is eager to recruit good listeners - especially those who didnít think they had a talent for it.


EVERYTHING'S HUNKYDORY FOR MARY-SUE MASSON

Creative director turned filmmaker Mary-Sue Masson moves from Bare Films to HunkyDory.


IT'S ACADEMIC FOR DORIAN & DANIEL.

German upstarts Dorian Lebherz and Daniel Titz aim to build on their early promise by joining Academy Films and A+.


SYLVAIN CHOMET JOINS DIRTY FILMS AND HUSH.

French director Sylvain Chomet has joined the rosters at both Dirty Films and Hush.


PARK VILLAGE SIGNS JAKE JELICICH

Park Village have signed director Jake Jelicich to their content and music roster.


THE CHRISTMAS VERDICT

For our latest podcast, we asked comedians Simon Evans, Alice Frazer and Dan Antopolski to offer their verdict on this year's Christmas commercials.


NICK BALL IS MR CHRISTMAS

Blink's Nick Ball has spent the last few months in full-on Christmas mode as he was asked to make three seasonal campaigns this year.


THE BREXIT AND TRUMP PODCASTS.

In our inaugural podcasts, we asked Dave Trott, Chaka Sobhani, Vicki Maguire and Guardian journalist Deborah Orr for their take on this year's political turmoil.


DAVID'S CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

It's time to take a look at some of 2016 most notable Christmas work.


BABY TALK.

One of the stars of T K Maxxís Christmas ad is helping Facebook users drop a big hint about what they want from Santa.


PLAYING CHICKEN WITH KFC.

KFC aim to bring couch gaming back to the fore with an online campaign pitting some of the UKís top gamers and grime artists against one another.


HOTSPUR & ARGYLE'S CHRIS SHEPHERD HONOURED AT LIA FESTIVAL.

Chris Shepherd is the London International Animation Festival's special opening night guest.


NEXUS'S WHITE HOUSE MAGIC

The clever boffins at Nexus Studios have created an incredible AR experience to say celebrate eight years of the Obamas.


FOCUS ON CRAFTWORKS

Our next CraftWorks event is part of The Location Guide's Focus event at the Business Design Centre in Islington on Wednesday 7th December.


4 CREATIVE AND DOUGAL WILSON TAKE THE CRAFT PLAUDITS.

At last night's Arrows Craft Awards, 4 Creative and Dougal Wilson took the Best Crafted Commercial gong in a big night for their Paralympics film.


A CULTURE SHOCK AT MOXIE PICTURES.

Exciting times ahead for Moxie Pictures as the company signs the thinking man's thinking man Rob Hughes as their new Head of Culture.


ANDREA KAPOS DRAWS ON DARK ENERGY

Andrea Kapos has joined Matt Brown's band of merry directors at Dark Energy.


STRANGELOVE IS ALL AROUND GREG HACKETT.

After launching earlier this year, StrangeLove are pleased to announce a new addition to their core roster: intrepid filmmaker Greg Hackett.


76 SNARE WOLF&LAMM

76 in London have become the UK representatives for German directing duo Wolf&Lamm.


Stories

David Reviews - Lovely Lenzie Ltd, Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.