Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Five Greatest Christmas Commercials on American Television

In the 1947 classic film Miracle on 34th Street the commercialisation of Christmas is criticised. Eighteen years later in the classic TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas the commercialisation of Christmas was once more attacked. Today, fifty years after the debut of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the commercialisation of Christmas is still criticised. Just as people have been criticising the commercialisation of Christmas for a very long time, so too has advertising used the visual imagery of the holiday for a very long time.

In fact, the first advertisements with Christmas themes appeared in the late 19th Century. By the 1920s the use of Christmas imagery in advertisements was an established practice. With the advent of regularly scheduled broadcast television in the United States, it became only a matter of time before there would be Christmas themed television commercials. And while Americans are often prone to complain about the commercialisation of the holiday, they often have their favourite Christmas themed commercials. I am no different, so I thought I would compile a list of what I considered the greatest Christmas commercials of all time. Here they are from number five to number one.

5. Overstock.Com Christmas Commercial: I will confess that I probably have a blind spot with regards to this commercial. In the mid to late Naughts Overstock.Com did a series of commercials featuring a very attractive, German born beauty named Sabine Ehrenfeld. As might be expected, she starred in their 2005 Christmas commercial, which would be repeated every holiday season for a few years. The commercial is quite simple, with Miss Ehrenfeld strolling through a street scene entirely in white. All the while she is singing a commercial jingle to the tune of "Jingle Bells" (no pun intended). I have no idea if Sabine Ehrenfeld did her own singing, but it wouldn't surprise me if she did. Among her many other assets was a particularly dulcet voice. If you haven't guessed by now, Sabine Ehrenfeld happens to be my blind spot with regards to this commercial...

4. M&M's "Christmas Faint": Animated, anthropomorphic M&M characters first appeared in a television commercial all the way back in 1954. That having been said, the modern day characters of Red and Yellow would not appear until 1995. Over the years they have appeared in a large number of M&M's commercials. This Christmas commercial, entitled "Christmas Faint", may be the most enduring of them all. The commercial made its debut on December 5 1996 and is still airing nineteen years later.

3. Campbell's Soup, "Snowman": Strictly speaking, the Campbell's Soup commercial "Snowman" is perhaps better described as a "winter commercial" rather than a Christmas commercial.While it usually airs during the holidays, it has aired much later, often into January or even February. The commercial is rather simple. As the song "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" plays, a snowman makes his way inside. This is another commercial that has had lasting power. It first aired in 1993.

2. Hershey's Kisses Christmas Commercial: Another simple, but lasting commercial. The commercial consists of Hershey's Kisses in holiday coloured wrappers playing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as if they were bells. The commercial first debuted in 1989 and is still airing to this day. It is Hershey's longest running commercial.

1. Norelco Santa Claus: Arguably Norelco's Santa Claus commercials are the all time champion when it comes to Christmas commercials. For those who have never seen the commercials, they originally featured a stop-motion Santa Claus riding a Norelco electric razor as if it was a sled through a winter wonderland. Later commercials would utilise computer animation. The original commercial debuted in 1961 and would be updated through the years. Ultimately Norelco's Santa commercials proved so popular that they lasted until 1996. The public's demand for the return of the Santa commercials was so great that Norelco eventually revived them in  2002. Here it must be pointed out that Norelco's stop-motion Santa Claus actually pre-dates the classic Rankin/Bass special Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which debuted in 1964 (three years after the first Norelco Santa ad aired).

As mentioned earlier, Norelco updated the Santa Claus ad through the years, so that there are several different versions. Here is a collection of various Norelco Santa ads from through the years.

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