The minute I saw it I knew that the madness of the Christmas season was upon us.

No, it wasn’t seeing the first Christmas decorations or the arrival of my first Christmas card. It was actually the
first viewing of the Coca-Cola ‘Holidays are Coming’ TV advert. It’s amazing how the moment I see that train winding its way through the countryside, and hear those bells a-jingling, my Christmas spirit starts stirring.

The problem was that it was still November when I saw the advert, and though I usually can’t even contemplate the festive season till we’re in December, once that ad came on I immediately started to make the mental transformation from a female Scrooge to a middle-aged Tiny Tim.

It’s extraordinary the impact TV ads can have on us, isn’t it? And of course the Coca-Cola one was swiftly followed by all the major retailers and their various Christmas offerings. It usually seems to be a competition to see who has the most celebrities in their ad, and who can create the most evocative Christmas scene of beautiful famous people in gorgeous winter woollies, all accompanied by our favourite festive tunes. But this year things seem a little different.

The usual leader of the pack is Marks & Spencer who for 10 years or so have brightened up the TV schedules with a Xmas ad packed to the rafters with celebrities. But this year they’ve gone down a different route, the celebrities are out and instead they’ve plumped for an advert that looks like a Christmas compilation CD. There are several different songs, with different people dancing and having fun, really pushing that M&S has variety and has something for everyone (or at least that’s what my marketing head thinks its saying). It even ends with the line ‘The Greatest Hits of Christmas’ – I’m surprised there isn’t an album in store being sold to accompany the advert!

Confusingly Littlewoods this year have taken one of M&S’s ex-stars, Myleene KIass and placed her centre stage of their ad. (looking rather like she doesn’t actually know what she’s there for!) I’m sure I’m not the only person who on first viewing, got very confused as to which retailer the ad was actually promoting, and I don’t think that’s great for either brand.

Waitrose on the other hand, have cut back dramatically on their TV offering. After an expensive Harry Potter style advert last year, they’ve decided to go ‘cheap’ and give more to charity rather than spending gazillions on the production of their ad. A nice idea in this age of austerity. I wonder though whether Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith gave their fee to charity too?

However, the retailer that has once again proven that they really lead the way with impactful Christmas ads is John Lewis. Last year’s beautiful film of the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas Day (not to open his own presents, but to give his special present to his parents) was a great hit and smacked firmly of the ‘Aah’ factor. And this year they’ve done it again. Their ad, where the snowman traipses get to a town so he can buy a scarf, hat and gloves for his snowwoman, is just gorgeous. And the joy is that at no point is it ‘selling’ John Lewis. It’s a beautiful, memorable short film, which really captures what we would all really like Christmas to be about, but seldom is.

So my Christmas spirit has definitely burst forth, along with all of these TV adverts. Let’s just hope I can sustain it throughout the madness of the next month, and that I don’t start to morph back into Ebenezer before it’s all over.

NOTE TO SELF: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.