Alan Dee: Let’s pour a bucket of cold water over that warm Christmas commercial feeling
I’ve tried closing my eyes and counting to 10, I’ve had a go at turning round three times and saying the magic word, I may have to resort to just banging my head against a brick wall in a vain attempt to return to reality – but at the moment I appear to be trapped in a parallel universe.
In this bizarre world, the human race which once exalted the spiritual and the creative now reserves its greatest praise for the modern equivalent of a pavement hawker.
Come with me back in time to the height of the Renaissance, although you can pretty much pick and choose your particular pet period from history and the result will be the same.
On the streets of Florence the population can take their pick – there’s Leonardo’s Last Supper down the road, Michaelangelo’s David to be admired too, all manner of great art giving expression to the miracle of humanity.
Were the punters of the time turning away from these towering works of genius and talking of nothing but the grocer on the corner of the marketplace, however entertaining his spiel as he tried to shift sufficient sausages or spuds to put food on the table?
I think not, but that’s where we are now. Art is ignored, and we all coo over shameless attempts to get us to buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have, just because a cute Christmas commercial succeeds in making us feel a bit warm and fuzzy.
In my young day, there were a few obvious Christmas ads for things you’d never think of buying at any other time of the year – bottles of sherry and advocaat, for some reason, big tins of Quality Street, perfumes and potions.
But I can’t recall high-powered campaigns from the big retailers, advertising not the stuff they had on the shelves but their Christmas vision.
Now the seasonal commercials are reviewed and rated with such rigour that anyone would think they were a matter of life and death.
They get longer, they get more expensive, the music they choose can dictate the shape of the Christmas charts, and everybody seems to have lost sight of their initial purpose.
You spend time and money on advertising in order to sell more, don’t you? The hawker back in Florence knew that – he wasn’t trying to reinforce his brand values, he was just trying to flog stuff.
If your Christmas ad doesn’t mention any of the stuff you are trying to flog, and doesn’t even mention your name until the final few seconds, you’ve taken a wrong turn.
But you’ve spent millions of pounds in the process, and you have to make that money back somehow.
Which means that while we are all wallowing in the winsome winter wonderlands served up by the big chains, their prices go up to foot that bill. Not feeling quite so warm and fuzzy now, I’ll warrant.