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

STRANGELOVE FOR TUBBY BROTHER AND FLASH FACTORY.

StrangeLove have made a double signing: filial duo Tubby Brother and Marco Prestini, aka Flash Factory.


ARNO SALTERS IS RIFF RAFF

Riff Raff have signed multi-talented director Arno Salters to their roster.


NUR CASADEVALL ENLISTS WITH COLONEL BLIMP.

Colonel Blimp have signed Barcelona-based director and photographer Nur Casadevall for UK representation.


BIG EVENTS TO CELEBRATE THE IPA'S CENTENARY.

The IPA is celebrating its 100th birthday in style with a series of impressive events.


HENRY MASON'S BOLD NEW REEL.

Director Henry Mason is now being represented by BOLD, and that gave us the excuse to catch with him in Australia.


JOHN MCAVOY'S TALE OF REDEMPTION

At the latest of Just So's screenings exploring the realm of influence the audience was captivated by John McAvoy's extraordinary story of redemption.


SID ROBERSON: AN APPRECIATION.

Sid Roberson was a giant in every sense of the word and his loss has been keenly felt.


RODRIGO GARCIA SAIZ JOINS MINDSEYE

Rodrigo Garcia Saiz joins MindsEye for representation in the UK.


BRET EASTON ELLIS IS A DEVIL YOU KNOW.

Author Bret Easton Ellis has turned his hand to directing lately and - through US production company The Devil You Know - he's available for TV commercials.


DP NICK MORRIS JOINS VISION.

Vision have added cinematographer and all-round creative spark Nick Morris to their Emerging Talent roster.


GENEVIEVE SHEPPARD ARRIVES AT BRF

BRF’s recruitment drive continues with the signing of Genevieve Sheppard as their new Executive Producer and Head of Production.


DANIEL HOPE IS AN AARDMAN

Aardman Animation have signed Amsterdam based animation director Daniel Hope.


BRINGING HOME THE BAFTA

Congratulations to the team behind 'Home' who brought home the BAFTA for Best Short Film.


BACK 'THE WAY BACK'

A trio of creatives at Grey London have set up a KickStarter to help them fund an ambitious project which aims to use VR to boost those affected by affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s.


NEXUS BRINGS THE GRUFFALO TO LIFE

Nexus debut an app which brings the beloved children's character to life.


JEFF LABBÉ JOINS FURLINED IN THE US

Commercial director Jeff Labbé has joined Furlined for US representation.


ALEX BOUTELL HAS A TANTRUM

The notoriously small and selective tantrum have brought a new director into the fold.


LUCAS BORRÁS IS A NERD

Internationally renowned director Lucas Borrás joins Nerd for UK representation.


REPORT FROM THE SUPER BOWL ARMCHAIR

While the New England Patriots earned an historic 34-28 comeback victory, there were also some commercials broadcast during this year’s Super Bowl. Just how we like it!


FREEFOLK BECOME NEW YORK FOLK

Freefolk are ready to embark on their US adventure as they open their New York office.


ADAM WITTEN GETS A WORK PROMOTION

Work Editorial promote director turned editor Adam Witten to their roster.


MONTHLY CRAFTWORKS ARE A GO GO

The first CraftWorks of 2017 drew an audience of around one-and-a-half million to hear an excellent line-up talking about what they do and how they do it.


THEY'RE FRIENDS ELECTRIC

Friend Electric is a new sister company to the Electric Theatre Collective.


MICHAEL LAWRENCE JOINS WANDA LONDON

It’s a pretty picture at Wanda London as they welcome director and photographer Michael Lawrence to their roster.


BORJA LÓPEZ DÍAZ HAS A VISION

Vision have added accomplished DoP Borja López Díaz to their roster.


Stories

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