This years FT Advent Calendar (see long running, never quite complete calendars passim on drinks and Christmas films). So this year the idea was mooted that we talk a bit about Christmas adverts: ADVERT CALENDAR: DO YOU SEE? And if you do see, and you do see them on British TV, let us know which ones we should talk about.


But in the meantime we need to get this one out of the way, as it is a stupendous piece of brand advertising. The Marks & Spencer (M&S?) Bond-themed Christmas stunner, with all their usual models, Shirley Bassey singing “Get The Party Started” and skidoos. There is little to add to John Harris’s thoughts on the ad: excpet that I never thought “Get The Party Started” had a drug reference in it. Indeed this may well be a London-centric viewpoint, but since most parties I go to are in chums flats, which require buzzer entrance the whole “I’m coming up so you better get this party started” has always seemed remarkably innocent to me. Though to fit the London streets better you’d probably want a police siren whizzing past in the background and a low buzzer following the chorus. Followed by that somewhat uncomfortable moment when you are not sure whether to pull or push the door, and hope it is not still locked.

I imagine this has never happened to Shirley Bassey, and that she no longer goes to those kind of parties. I also am well of the opinion that her singing is now wholly based on her arm positions, and to get louder she has to flap her arms like a bird (but one which knows where her home is, and isn’t it a nippy ice palace*). What does this advert tell us. It tells us that M&S are now a success. It tells us that M&S are as effortlessly successful as the Bond franchise. But notably, it tells us that M&S is still a bit old fashioned: like Twiggy and like Bond films with Bassey belting the theme tune. The advert may be perfectly timed to hit Christmas and a new Bond film, but notably the new Bond film does not jibe well with this advert. These girls are waiting for Brosnan in their fake fur and £50 tops from Per Una. They wouldn’t give Daniel Craig the time of day. And nor would your Mum, who is going to buy this stuff in M&S. Perfect branding, terrific advert which could even get a hit single out of it (Bassey’s “Get The Party Started” is a thing of wonder). And it kicks that Kerry Katona in the arse. But more on her later…

*Okay, I bow down to John for noting that the advert takes place in Superman’s Fortress Of Solitude.