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In a sea of schmaltz, Ikea’s Christmas ad cuts through

I love festive ad season. Despite perpetually moaning about the commercialisation of Christmas (I’ve bored my colleagues to death with why Starbucks’ red cups are the scourge of the earth), I can already feel a ripple of excitement at the release of this year’s televisual yuletide offerings.

Why? Because although they’re trying to flog us something, Christmas ads have heart – perhaps a little too much heart, some might say.

It’s all John Lewis’ fault. They started it in 2011 with the utterly brilliant ad ‘The Long Wait’, which I still tear up watching. However, it was SO good that it spurred a spate of heartstring-tugging storytelling that even the retailer couldn’t replicate itself (as good as they were, The Bear and the Hare, the Snowmen and Monty the Penguin weren’t quite so lump in throat).

Still, I pull a chair eagerly up to the screen whenever a new Christmas ad is released online… and this year has been somewhat underwhelming so far.

Those that have gone early – namely Lidl and Asda – give you that warm fireside glow, but they’re not exactly memorable. In the next few days when heavyweights like Marks & Spencer and the ubiquitous John Lewis press play, the supermarkets’ efforts will fade into the background. Hence why they’ve jumped the queue.

I did, however, have the good fortune to stumble across an online advert for Ikea, a brand I wholly don’t associate with Christmas, released LAST YEAR for its Spanish customers…

….and it blew me away.

It starts with a group of school children being asked to write their letter to ‘the three kings’, their equivalent of Father Christmas. Naturally they ask for toys, games, electronic goods.

Then, after the letter has been posted, they are asked to write another Christmas list…to their parents.

I won’t spoil it for you too much, but it’s safe to say that material goods don’t feature high on this list, and barely any parent gets through reading the letter without crying.

And best of all, when asked to pick one letter to send, most of them choose mummy and daddy over Santa Claus.

OK, OK, it’s cheesy and probably very predictable to some, but I just love it.

Why?

Because it reminds us that we’re prepared to spend a lot of money to prove how much we love people. But in actual fact, one of Christmas’ greatest joys is taking a step back from the treadmill of everyday life and spending quality time together.

And the fact it’s still being likes and shared 12 months on shows that good advertising with a strong message is timeless.

Bravo, Ikea.

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