We have a bit of a tradition in the Escapade office around this time of year, where we all sit around to watch, dissect and criticize the annual helping of festive adverts… All over a small feast of M&S’s latest Christmas food offerings! The concept of “the Christmas advert” is no doubt owned by John Lewis. It’s the one we all look forward to; from Monty the Penguin to the Man on the Moon, we all have our favourite from over the years.

This year, just 24 hours after launch, #bustertheboxer had attracted 28.5 million YouTube and Facebook views, three times more than the 8.8 million views the Man on the Moon attracted in the same time. Responding to social feedback, John Lewis purposely moved away from “sadvertsing” this Christmas, with the intention to evoke a happier emotion from viewers. So did it work?

The Drum reported that a “facial recognition study by RealEyes, which measures people’s reactions as they watch adverts, showed that Buster scored better than 95% of the 5,700 ads the company has in terms of emotional engagement. The ‘emotional engagement’ metric is a combined measure of how the ad scores on attraction, retention, engagement and impact. It was also found to be the most compelling of the last six John Lewis ads, the next best being 2011’s The Long Wait, followed by Monty the Penguin, The Journey, Man on the Moon and finally The Bare & the Hare.”

Despite the cries of how the advert has ruined Christmas for children who believe in Santa, and how the concept of animals on a trampoline is unhygienic and shouldn’t be encouraged (don’t you just love social media?!) it would seem #bustertheboxer has achieved what John Lewis set out to do with it’s 2016 offering. So how are the other retailers measuring up? Here’s our thoughts!

“At the risk of sounding like a complete Grinch, none of the Christmas adverts that I have seen so far this year have really hit the spot. I like happy endings, particularly at Christmas, and enjoy the emotional journey, happy or sad to get there. None of this year’s batch brought neither a happy nor sad tear to my eyes. That being said, I do quite like Barbour’s ad. Snowman, nostalgia, a dog, an emotional pull and that all important happy ending.” Lynne Goddard, Managing Director

“At a push, if you made me, I’d choose Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot… Or Asda’s digital pr shorts. It’s something a bit different, and I quite like the granny if I’m honest. But truth be told I’m left feeling a little flat after a (much anticipated) Christmas sandwich lunch subjecting ourselves to a range of Christmas adverts that showed no sign of ever ending and, for me missed the real essence of Christmas! Waitrose are suggesting we leave mince pies out for Robin’s? James Corden’s irritating warbling… And why aren’t Ant and Dec bothering the Morrison’s staff this year? Retailers say they are focusing on fun for 2016… Bring back the tears for 2017 please! Thank goodness for the buffet of pigs in blankets!” Naomi Barry, Account Director 

“Being an animal lover, any Christmas ad with one gets my vote. John Lewis did not disappoint with Buster taking the starring role, along with Waitrose’s robins and Barbour’s dog. Although I like that overall the adverts hitting our screens this Christmas have light-hearted themes, none of them really stand out when trying to pick a favourite. So Sainsbury’s 2015 advert still tops them all for me… Bring back Mog the cat!” Beth Glover, Account Executive

“Two adverts stood out to me this year. The first was Burberry. All of a sudden I thought I was watching a Downton Abbey Christmas special. It has the makings of a feature length film and it is very British so it gets the thumbs up from me. The second was House of Fraser. Mainly because it featured a track recorded by one of my all-time favourite groups, The Fugees and sang by Laura Mvula (another fave). It’s fast, in your face and all about fashion. They achieved their goal with me on that one as it makes me wants to spend lots of money!” Victoria Hagan, PR Assistant

And for me? Well, I’ve left it until now to confess that I actually have two boxer dogs, so I am admittedly and unashamedly biased! When Lidl used Sid the Boxer in their 2015 campaign (that’s right John Lewis, you weren’t the first!) I would literally squeal at the TV every time his face popped up on the TV! I love them. And John Lewis very cleverly picked the perfect breed to illustrate the daft and silly behaviour of dogs that enriches family life. Someone in that team must own a boxer! I have to echo the general Escapade thought however, that actually this year collectively has definitely fallen a bit flat across the board. Even with #bustertheboxer, it would have been great to see a little more of the relationship between child and dog. That kind of stuff always melts my heart!

So with a belly full of Christmas sandwiches and prosecco crisps, here’s to the weeks ahead of James Corden telling us the greatest gift this Christmas is him!

Our consumer PR agency specialises in connecting everyday brands with everyday people across four core sectors; Consumer PR, Food & Drink PR, Consumer Technology PR and Sport, Health & Wellbeing PR.