Julian Gratton

The alternative Christmas list: 5 TV adverts that give me fond memories

I’m not a fan of Christmas. I hate what it has turned into and how people have lost sight of what Christmas is truly about. I wasn’t always like this. When I was a kid I used to love Christmas… and I used to love even more some of the adverts that appeared on telly that signalled the arrival of the festive season.

So as the big day approaches and the supermarket aisles begin to get full of festive treats, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the Christmas TV adverts that, as a child, used to get me into the Christmas spirit. It also gives me a chance to take a trip down memory lane and laugh at some of the quite shocking TV adverts that used to appear in the festive season to try and flog us stuff!

Denim Aftershave ‘For men who don’t have to try… too hard!’

Testosterone. That’s what this aftershave should really be called. What with its dark brooding music and ‘Manly’ voice over… it’s basically saying that this is no aftershave for boys… it’s for men… real men… men who eat steak,  drive trucks and wear… yes you guessed it… denim shirts!

There are quite a few aftershave commercials that used to pop up at Christmas… I can certainly remember our bathroom being filled with such 70s/80s aftershave classics as Denim, Mandate, Hai Karate and of course Old Spice… whose adverts should have made this list to be honest as I used to love the Carmina Burana ‘Mark of a Man’ adverts featuring a surfer, crashing waves and a pretty girl!

John Smiths Lager ‘Rugby Match’

Along with ‘Little Drummer Boy’ by David Bowie and Bing Crosby, Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop the Cavalry’ is one of my favourite Christmas songs. John Smiths repurposed the song in the 80s for a brilliant Christmas advert to promote their new Lager. As a result not only did they make an advert that always reminds me of Christmas as a child, but they created one of the best beer adverts ever!

So hats off to whoever created this classic TV advert, it brought many a laugh to my household when I was a kid… and it still makes me laugh now!

Milk Tray ‘All because the lady loves…’

Like any child in the 80s I loved James Bond. So probably the reason why I always loved this advert when it popped on our screens at Winter is because it’s just like a scene from a Bond movie. That and the romantic locations, great cinematography and air of mysticism it creates that leads a child to think that mum would love some Milk Tray this Christmas.

I did think about putting the Terry’s Chocolate Orange ‘Indiana Jones’ TV advert on this list… but this chocolate advert, for me, has always stood out and given me some fond memories of watching TV as a child.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi ‘Speeder Bike’

Christmas 1983. There was only one thing that a 9-year old Julian wanted that Christmas, and that was to recreate the Speeder Bike chase from Return of the Jedi underneath our kitchen table! This toy advert for me was like a lesson in how to sell a product… not only did it highlight all the features of the toys but it also gave you a great idea of how to create a key scene from the film… genius!

As you might expect, toy adverts feature highly in my mind when it comes to Christmas as a child. I’ll never forget receiving a Star Bird toy one year after seeing this TV advert and being overcome with jealousy on another as my best friend got a Big Trak… I hated his new found ability to deliver apples to family members around the house!

Oxo ‘My Christmas’

These days Christmas TV adverts are dominated by the likes of John Lewis, M&S and the big four supermarkets. With their adverts they try and capture the essence of Christmas and pull on our heartstrings and give us that nostalgic feeling in an attempt to get us to shop with them.

There’s one advert I remember from being a child that does all what they are trying to do, and it’s this one from Oxo, featuring the ‘Oxo Family’. It’s packed full of humour, human truths and makes you long to bring your family together at Christmas. In fact I would go as far as saying this could be one of the best Christmas adverts ever… mainly because it doesn’t try too hard and isn’t too overtly ‘Christmas!’