When I was a child, I watched a lot of Road Runner cartoons, and as a result I used to have this recurring dream that my family were picnicking on a thin, grassy outcrop of rock. But while they were happily cracking open the Scotch eggs, I was falling off the edge of the cliff, clutching at fistfuls of grass which kept coming off in my hand. Every other night I lost my grip and plummeted to the ground. Fun or what?
If you’re ever so slightly bristling from what I can now clearly see was some kind of early psychological trauma, you’ll be in the perfect mood for Christmas 2022. Because that’s how it feels: we’re festively celebrating at the edge of a precipice, and pretending not to notice the screams.
Nowhere is this feeling more obvious than in this year’s Christmas adverts. Most of the ads are more like a cry for help than an expression of seasonal joy. Brands too scared to overdo it on the tinsel and sentimentality due to the war in Ukraine/climate emergency/Covid/crushing cost-of-living crisis seem to have chosen one of two directions. Meaningful like John Lewis (dads who have adopted children learning to skateboard, followed by a charity appeal) or utterly deranged.
I was watching Gogglebox the other day, mostly because I enjoy wondering what kind of biscuits they might have this week, when I realised with horror that the Christmas adverts were already in full swing and I hadn’t even noticed. By the end, I’d had a crash course in every single one, and I could only conclude (as if Brexit wasn’t some sort of indication) that Britain is Not OK.
Let’s start with Aldi. Kevin the Carrot is Home Alone and through a series of comedy carrot-related errors he ends up being catapulted through the air and lands in a snowman’s crotch. The snowman even cracks a weird, sexual smile, like Bernard Bresslaw in Carry On At Your Convenience, and the clock is turned back at least 30 years.
- Aldi’s Next Big Thing: A stressful behind-the-scenes look at the supermarket chain
- Industry: Investment bank drama is ‘exhilaratingly reprehensible’
- Sean Bean and Nicola Walker’s Marriage makes me feel like part of a Hollywood power couple
Asda, meanwhile, have chopped up grainy scenes from Elf and interspersed them with depressing conversations with real-life staff members in store. It all has a feeling of ‘WILL (FERRELL) THIS DO?’ It would have been more festive if Will himself appeared as an older, off-duty version of the character with holes in his tights, off to buy a pack of Amber Leaf rolling tobacco and a few Pot Noodles. Maybe he could have been reminded of the spirit of Christmas by Barbara on checkout who alerts him to the two-for-one on Glen’s vodka.