Marks and Spencer Christmas advert review: French and Saunders team-up falls flat

Marks and Spencer Christmas advert review: French and Saunders team-up falls flat

Marks and Spencer has always been the go-to choice for occasion food – and Christmas, after all, is the ultimate occasion.

So when it comes to the Battle Royale that is festive adverts, you’d expect that they’d slay all competitors without breaking a sweat. And they do – kind of.

The inimitable Dawn French, who voiced last year’s festive advert, is back as the Christmas fairy on top of the tree – a fairy that looks suspiciously like French herself – but this year, she’s looking for a friend. Situated in the festive living room of dreams (the tree is impeccable, as are the decorations; it looks like no humans live here), she decides that the other ornaments on the Christmas tree simply don’t make the grade for the prospective pal.

Well, how about bringing real-life mate Jennifer Saunders on board? For it is she that French chooses, voicing a rather bedraggled duck plaything of the family dog that French’s fairy brings to life with a flick of her wand.

 (Marks and Spencer)
(Marks and Spencer)

Fortunately, even in animated form, the pair’s playful banter brings a spark to the proceedings. Both French and Saunders are past masters at conjuring warm and fuzzy feelings with only a line or two of dialogue – indeed, they’re practically national icons at this point.

Together, they escape the attentions of said family dog with a bit of festive magic, and huddle on top of the counter, where they banter about Duckie’s lack of stuffing (unfortunately, no amount of fairy magic seems able to fix that).

So far, so good. Unfortunately, about halfway through is where the advert stumbles and never really gets back up again. The best festive food ads don’t shoehorn the food in – it acts more as a backdrop to the main action taking place, never interfering with the narrative.

This is where Marks and Spencers makes their fatal mistake, as French reels off what feels like a catalogue list of festive foods, thus completely derailing the story and ensuring that eyeballs around the UK start glazing over faster than a side of festive gammon. And if you’re going to include Marks and Spencers products, where the oink is Percy Pig?

Blood Orange and Cranberry Vodka is all well and good – and indeed, sounds rather tasty. But the British public don’t watch Christmas ads to find out what food is on offer. They watch for that fuzzy, festive feeling, which, by the end of the ad, feels sorely lacking.

So close, yet so far. It’s not just any disappointing ad: it’s an M&S disappointing ad.