From ‘sexist’ to sexy: On Christmas adverts in 2012

It’s that time of year again, meaning one thing. Big companies spending big money on yuletide commercials. This year things are a little different though, with the major talking points being gender rights and adult toys- hardly typical gifts.

Needless to say plenty of people reading this will know of the minor outrage ASDA sparked by unveiling its new Yuletide TV commercial. Accused of sexism, critics suggest it shows both a housebound mother, diligently serving the family, not to mention a useless dad who doesn’t seem comfortable with parenting or cleaning tasks.

The Advertising Standards Agency has been investigating public complaints over this campaign, with one father’s rights organisation apparently threatening a ‘turkey sit-in’ at stores if the clips aren’t pulled from broadcast altogether. That’s highly unlikely though, as this is really only half the story. According to the supermarket giant, it’s brand new seasonal television stint received a large majority vote of confidence from a group of 4,000 women surveyed, and the 22,000 Facebook likes in under three hours also speaks volumes.

Needless to say, ASDA certainly meant no offense, and most people have taken the advert as it was intended, which is more than can be said for John Lewis. The brand that could melt even the iciest disposition saw its festive advert hijacked earlier this month by boutique provocateur Anne Summers. Vibrating snowmen and plenty of innuendo being used to take what was once a wholly innocent heartwarmer, and turn it into something far more steamy.

The lingerie retailer’s parody went viral before being removed from the Internet, no doubt working wonders for its own sales. Interestingly though, because it simultaneously reminded us of the John Lewis original, the business benefits may be double, with the department store brand name also being brought to the forefront of viewers’ minds (and therefore consumers). Albeit the message is wildly different when dressed in a PVC nurse’s uniform.

Still, there’s a good chance everyone will gain, once the red faces have faded. And as for ASDA, we doubt the animosity evident in some circles will do much to dampen seasonal sales. All in all though it’s certainly been a an interesting year for the ‘classic Christmas TV advert’, and one that confirms how difficult it is for brands to get it right when it comes to judging the mood of Joe and Jill blogs, not to mention gauging the potential for another company to re-appropriate their creations; food for anyone involved in PR or branding to think over.