The Christmas retail ads have become as much a part of Christmas as mince pies, turkey and falling asleep in front of Eastenders. But in the new age of climate change and caring for the planet, should they be consigned to history as no longer being relevant to how we now live our lives?
And of course, the sad reality, is that for many people, scenes of families enjoying a festive feast, the table groaning under the weight of the piled high food, is a grotesque reminder of their own plight. Unable to afford anything bar the necessities, a huge turkey with all the trimmings is completely out of their reach. FOMO is a powerful emotion, and retailers know it.
And people do pay attention to them. As I write this, #BoycottTesco is trending on Twitter – Tesco’s ‘crime’? Saying that Santa had been quarantined, followed by an image of him at customs, clutching his Covid vaccination QR code. Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty have either pulled off a stroke of genius or it’s going to backfire. It appears the social media court is equally divided between the indignant anti-vaxxers and those who are pleased that they can now shop in Tesco, safe in the knowledge that the former won’t be there.
Now, to save you the trouble, I’ve sat down and watched all the ads (you’re welcome) and to me, whereas in previous years, it seemed that a successful Christmas ad had to pass what I refer to as the ‘Goosebump Test’, – emotive, tear jerkers, this year, after nearly two years of restrictions, the tone has changed and we’re all being encouraged to splash out and party like never before.
Spending time with family and enjoying ourselves has, for most of us, always been what Christmas is all about. However, it’s also the time for giving and receiving and alongside our new found collective concern for the planet, this is where it starts to get a little awkward.
Because, despite our best intentions, if we’re honest, we know that the majority of those gifts we give and receive with such enthusiasm on Christmas Day, will end up in landfill before we’re cracking open our first Easter egg. Perhaps it’s time to return to not simply the real meaning of Christmas, but to make future festive seasons a Climate Christmas.
Will the concept of celebrating a ‘green Christmas’ ever appeal? Whilst there’s the prospect of a new X-Box to be had, sadly it seems unlikely.
But ultimately, the retail Christmas ads are just an innocent slice of fantasy, something always tantalisingly out of reach. And as long as we treat them as no more than just another piece of entertainment, then where’s the harm in that?