By Colin Jowell

How was your weekend?

According to the Commonwealth Bank Survey of Festive Spending it was very, very busy.

The highest bricks and mortar sales day was predicted to have been this Saturday just past, though 28% of you are now smart enough to avoid the Christmas crush and do your shopping online.

The prediction is also for a slightly lower spend overall- about $37 less, but this drop would be due to lower spending on gifts and home entertainment, while out of home entertainment and vacation spend would actually be up, along with spending on home improvement. So it’s not all bad news.

What has been undeniably bad news though, has been the dreck that passes for the Christmas ad. In the UK, Sainsbury was moving hearts with this lovely piece  (albeit a remake of a Paul McCartney video "The Pipes of Peace" but I am willing to bet not too many people remember/ care).

But here, the story has been a little less moving. Having lived in the Southern Hemisphere my entire life, the wintry cues of Christmas have always struck me as a deeply strange way to connect with an audience that may have only ever experienced a white Christmas on television. I suppose traditions aren’t designed to be rational. But what does seem to be a lot worse this year is the incredibly shouty advertising. Everything from roof racks to leg ham are being sold hard, with the subtlety of a jackhammer. The standout for me year on year is ALDI- who at least take the whole thing a little less seriously, and create the only Christmas campaign I can spontaneously remember. (Possibly because I was not blocking my ears or averting my eyes from the affront). Surfing Santa is still my favourite. 

The real issue with most of this years “hard retail” is its total lack of relevance beyond the season itself. The need to raise awareness in a time of high propensity for consumer spending is a decent enough strategy, but realizing that everyone else will have the same idea would seem to raise the imperative that one stands apart. Most brands have ended up adorning themselves in the same tinsel this year, which isn’t very merry at all.

But to end the year on a positive note, my New Year’s wish is that we see more truth and more bravery in the New Year. With so many obviously broken promises this year, your customers will welcome a new approach more than ever.