There’s always a turkey in every year’s batch of Christmas advert offerings, and this year the crown passes to Morrisons.
The premise of the advert is simple and utterly joyless. Our returning hero, of sorts (he first appeared in 2021), on this journey is Father Christmas, again rebranded as Farmer Christmas, complete with a fairy-light bedecked tractor – but as we all know, sequels are a tricky business, and the Godfather II this is not.
Any advert where the dialogue begins, “Hello, it’s me again: Farmer Christmas,” implies the character was bland enough for the audience to forget them in the year since he last made an appearance, and so it proves here, where they’ve retired him from magically growing crops for the Christmas dinner to casual drive-bys instead.
Along with our bearded protagonist, we visit a Morrisons store that has half-heartedly been done up with more fairy lights and some wooden shelving and are told, “This is where Christmas dreams are made.” Uh, pull the other one, Farmer Christmas; it looks like a budget Winter Wonderland. And did I mention that he’s riding his tractor through the middle of this store?
As aproned minions offer the latest Morrisons Christmas produce to him on platters (puff-pastry scones, orange-glazed salmon, you know the drill), Farmer Christmas alternatively praises and patronises them from on high. “Very good, Kirsty,” he merrily proclaims from atop his tractor.
After that, he zooms off to a Christmas dinner (naturally, the kids outside his house are in awe of his glammed-up farm machinery), featuring the latest Morrisons range – which is so good, he tells us, that only Morrisons food is approved by him, Farmer Christmas. Well yes, but the fact that Morrisons invented Farmer Christmas might also have something to do with it.
The problem is that this ad thinks it has charm by the bucketload – the twinkly old man, the chirpy staff – but it all just contributes to a feeling of being force-fed festive cheer, Morrisons-style, until any hint of it disappears out the window.
By the time that this minute-long ad is over, you never want to see it again.
There are some Christmas ads that are a joy to re-watch: they’re made sweeter by the passage of time. Watching this festive travesty is not one of them. Hopefully next year they retire Farmer Christmas for good. Or put him back on growing duty.
Register now for one of the Evening Standard’s newsletters. From a daily news briefing to Homes & Property insights, plus lifestyle, going out, offers and more. For the best stories in your inbox, click here.