Not to sound too much like Scrooge, though he is part of the problem, but have you noticed how all the Christmas adverts look the same this year?
Their nostalgic Dickensian approach of snow, jingle bells, street urchins and false bonhomie is strikingly similar and just doesn’t feel particularly fresh from retailers trying to smile through the pain of the current retail environment. It feels faker than a Trump press release and disappointing and safe from marketing departments crossing everything and hoping their brands make it through to the new year.
Left - More urchins? Sainsbury's 2019
What started with wise men offering up gifts was hijacked by retailers and brands over the past century to make all their year’s profits in a few short months. Today's Christmas is, arguably, an American creation of commercialisation. It was Coca-Cola after all who changed Father Christmas from green to red to suit their branding.
This isn’t about taking Christmas back to its meaning, whatever that is, it’s about reflecting contemporary times and stripping the crap out of Christmas, which sits alongside Halloween and Valentine’s as commercial ‘Festivals of Crap’ with our overindulgence reflected in the bulging brown bin the days after.
Christmas needs a reboot to take it from Victoriana fake-fest to a simpler and more sustainable pagan and friends and family focussed festival to get us through the longest nights.
“Most of Christmas ads look almost identical because agencies and brands start from the almost same brief: ‘Lets create a piece of heart-warming storytelling that people will share online, so avoid pushing a specific product. Make it pretty’. says Marcio Delgado – Influencer Marketing Campaign Manager and Producer, www.marciodelgado.com
"On paper, for the purpose of approving production budgets months before Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ climbs back the charts – again – it seems the perfect deal. However, when customers start being bombarded by similar content, exhaustively promoted within their social media feeds and favourite TV shows, it all starts to look too much of the same.” says Delgado.
Lesley Stonier, brand storytelling and marketing strategist. Founder of We Mean Business, London - helping women and entrepreneurs find their authentic voice and share their story with confidence, says, “I think for the last 5 or so years we’ve seen John Lewis and even more recently Lidl/Aldi do very well from a certain style and format of ad. I believe the briefs the ad agencies are receiving from these companies and their competitors now will be something like, I want what they are doing, but make it ours.
Right - More snow? John Lewis 2019.
“It just all feels very same-y and therefore it becomes difficult to distinguish who the retailers actually are. There’s no stand out brand this year. The ads all blur into one Christmassy mass with no distinction. Food, kids, 18th century nostalgia, it’s difficult to tell them apart now.” says Stonier.
Stephanie Melodia, marketing specialist, founder of startup marketing agency, Bloom says, “Persuasion is at the root of successful advertising, and the mechanism to this is by appealing to people’s emotions. As a nation that has become less religious and traditional over time, Christmastime no longer bears the same connotations as before. Instead, the “Dickensian nostalgia” plays to the magic and joy one can only achieve over the holidays - whether its spending time with loved ones, exchanging gifts, enjoying good food & drink, or all of the above! It’s worth noting the generations that the Dickensian style will appeal to have quite a vast age range, from the grandparents to the millennials, (thanks to Mr. Dickens' literary genius in itself, as well as the modern remixes, like The Muppet Christmas Carol - for example).
What can brands do to differentiate themselves more and make their marketing campaigns feel more contemporary? “Firstly, they could focus on what their unique perspective is on Christmas. Although I think that’s where the challenge ultimately lies. When it comes to retail, we now have promotions for Christmas starting 2 wks before Black Friday so it’s very hard to differentiate except via price.” says Stonier.
“John Lewis, for example, could have led the pack by taking a more sustainable approach to Christmas. Encouraging less packaging waste for example. Or a supermarket encouraging less food waste. That would be a different approach and that would have much greater stand out because you’re changing the story people expect to hear, and giving them something different to mull over, giving them a reason to choose to do something different and make that choice with you.” she says.
“Behavioural changes, especially at a large scale, take a long time to kick in (whilst there is still lots of impactful work happening at the moment!)” says Melodia. “Hardwired social traditions like exchanging gifts at Christmastime won’t go away any time soon, but people are definitely thinking a lot more about how and what they buy than before. Retailers need to have sustainability at the heart of their businesses (if they don’t already) and beware of the PR risk in greenwashing while doing so.” she says.
Left - Tesco's 2019 Christmas table
Will this type of Christmas survive Extinction Rebellion and people rethinking over consumption?
“I think shoppers will always shop on price discounts. But it doesn’t drive loyalty so the retailers are just creating a vicious cycle that is then difficult to extract yourself from.
“There’s a risk to a different approach, but I’m surprised no one has capitalised on the consumer demand for more sustainable approach to life, and taken Christmas, the season of excess as the time to put a stake in the ground.” says Stonier.
What will Christmas look like in the future for brands and retailers?
“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can see us ironically returning to a simpler, less extravagant time, much like the Dickensian era. Where gifts are made rather than bought, and that we focus on the meaning and act of giving rather then needing, wanting and buying.” says Stonier. “The reality is there is very little we “need” now days in first world countries. We’re saturated. So what comes next? People search for meaning and purpose, and brands are doing good in the world, will be leading our hearts, minds and wallets in the future.” she says.
“We’ve already moved so far away from the religious and familial traditions from a mere century ago, the rate of change is only accelerating faster and faster. I believe people coming together and enjoying shared experiences will be the core festive factor that will remain for the foreseeable future, with the consumerist side of the holidays on the down.” says Melodia.
These Christmas ads are looking as done as the designer Christmas tree. This isn't about taking out the fun and the coming together of Christmas, it's about a fresher approach that is more reflective of where we are right now as consumers. The Christmas future looks simpler and less wasteful. ’Please, sir, no more!’.
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In the Wham Rap! it goes “Boys in leather kiss girls in pearls!” Fast forward to 2019 and it’s more likely to be girls in Bottega leather kiss boys in pearls. Thanks to Harry and his giant pearl at this year’s Met Gala - See more here - the pearl necklace is the menswear accessory of the season.
Pearls are the oldest gem on earth and have been treasured for centuries. Their appeal declined in the mid-20th century, when Japanese entrepreneur Mikimoto Kōkichi invented the ‘cultured’ pearl, which rendered them no longer a symbol of wealth.
As part of the GIAMBATTISTA VALLI x H&M collection - See more here - this necklace is made from real freshwater pearls with an antiqued metal hook fastener and pendant.
Left & Right - GIAMBATTISTA VALLI x H&M - Pearl Necklace - £49.99
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Left - Harry Styles in Gucci at the Met Gala 2019
We could possibly thank Conor McGregor for the fucks in menswear or it could it be the arrival of the ‘Fashion Wanker’? - See TheChicGeek’s new book - here. Whatever it is, Nick Holland is back with his Holland Esquire label. Turning his back on wasteful seasonal collections, he is doing themed micro drops with names such as ‘Doggy Style’, ‘Allotment Lovers’ and, ‘Fuck!’ from which this dress shirt is from.
I’ve been an admirer of Nick’s eye for a long time and his dedication to the detail. This shirt comes with a matching pocket for those moments when ‘fucks given’ is another way to say you care!
Disclosure - A shirt was gifted by Holland Esquire
We’ve had a few years off from the hysteria of the H&M fashion collaborations. There was a time when we had 6 month’s build up to the launch and you knew the date regardless of whether you liked the designer in question or wanted anything in particular. Now, all that is over and H&M’s parent brand isn’t quite as successful as it once was, we can take our time and judge it simply on the clothes. From the preview pictures (below), it looks pretty good.
Left - Coat - £179
This year’s collab. is with the Italian designer, Giambattista Valli, who, as far as I’m aware, hasn’t done menswear before. Known for his pleated, tiered evening wear, and haute couture, his ‘Valli Girls’ are finally getting their ‘Valli Boys’.
The press release says, “Valli explored the idea of free-spirited men taking pieces, patterns and fabrics from the women’s wardrobe; sampling and mixing freely, like DJs. The choice of flesh pink as the base colour – the simplest tee in the collection is pink, not white – which says it all.”
The leopard long coat (£199) and the embroidered black riding coat (£299) sum up Valli’s approach to menswear: they started life in Valli’s women’s collections and are now adapted to a man’s wardrobe. The embroidered tailcoat is an homage to the jacket worn by French intellectuals and artists when they join the Académie Française.
I like the punky, rockabilly feel to the menswear. The leopard coat is fun and the pearl necklace is a good entry piece. The prices are quite pricey, so if you're buying the outerwear you'll want to see the finish and quality before you decide to buy/keep it.
Launches Nov. 7th
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The majority of printed shirts are produced in plain cotton, so to find something this fun in baby cord is a pleasant autumnal surprise. Hardy Amies (RIP) did a collaboration with the East London retailer Present (RIP) a few years back featuring a hunting scene. And, while I missed out then, I wasn’t going to miss out on this shirt from Emmett.
A bucolic English hunting scene with dogs and horses running boldly through a light green and white field is as timeless as any British seasonal event. Looking like a child’s bedspread, in a good way, obvs, team with a masculine sober suit in navy or brown and traditional English shoes.
Left & Below - Emmett - Hunting Scene On Baby Cord Shirt - £175
Disclosure - This shirt was gifted by Emmett
A decadent oriental leather fragrance in a blend of almond, jojoba, grapeseed oil and vitamin E.
TheChicGeek says, “A beard oil is a real treat product and one from Tom Ford even more so. Beard oil nourishes the beard and facial skin underneath and adding a fragrance makes this a product you could use instead of a traditional fragrance.
So, I had high hopes for this one. I was expect to keep rubbing my hands on my stubble and moustache to inhale the fragrance.
The cult ‘Fucking Fabulous’ fragrance in this disappears very quickly and putting more on doesn’t counteract that. Also, at only 30ml, you’ll get through this very quickly and at £60 that’s very expensive. Within an hour or so the smell had completely disappeared. Men buying Tom Ford are buying into long lasting and powerful fragrances and this, sadly, falls flat in that department.”
Read more about 'Fucking Fabulous' here
Left - Tom Ford Fucking Fabulous Beard Oil - 30ml - £60
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Tom Ford for review
The new Oral-B Genius X is equipped with motion sensors and powered by artificial intelligence to recognise your brushing style and guide you to your best results every day. The combination of the new revolutionary 'Gum Guard' technology, '360 SmartRing' and 'Pressure Control' alert you, reduce speed when you brush too hard and tell you where you overbrush for a gentler routine. It comes with a lithium-ion battery that lasts more than 2 weeks with 1 full charge.
Left & Right - Oral B Genius X Electric Toothbrush with Artificial Intelligence - £340
TheChicGeek says, “Firstly, this is a really good electric toothbrush. My teeth felt exceptionally clean. The App makes you think more about where you are putting the brush, rather than just sticking it in you mouth and moving it about. I’ve always been prone to move my electric toothbrush a bit like I was using a manual. I more it too quickly and miss areas. This focuses you attention on not making those mistakes.
It’s quite a subtle shift between moving quadrants, a beep would be nice, and it doesn’t naturally switch off after two mintutes, which does encourage you to carry on brushing.
It tells you when to replace you brush head and when you’re brushing too hard. The App is more an encouraging tool than anything else.
The sensation is that nice polish you get at the dentist after all the horrible stuff is done.
I not sure why they price it so high when they discount it so fast. This is already half price on Boots and Amazon. P&G should just start with a more realistic price and stick to it, like companies such as Dyson do. It makes people value the product more.”
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Oral B for review
Jimmy Choo new ‘Urban Hero’ “combines sophistication and sensitivity with a touch of rebellion, an artist at heart; the city at night his canvas.”
Jimmy Choo has cast renowned street artist Jules Dedet, aka L’Atlas, as the face of the fragrance. A woody aromatic designed for Jimmy Choo by Antoine Maisondieu and Marion Costero of Givaudan, it starts with lemon caviar and black pepper. The heart opens with rosewood and vetiver with a drydown of grey amber and leather.
”We wanted to create a modern urban signature, in order to capture the spontaneous nature of street art, using blends of colours and textures, the way that street artists do.” explain Antoine Maisondieu and Marion Costero.
TheChicGeek says, “For some reason I had ‘Urban Decay’ in my head for the name of this fragrance. ‘Urban Hero’ isn’t quite so bad. You know how old ‘street art’ is when the artists start to look like somebody’s dad! L’Atlas - no? me neither - is giving Jimmy Choo some urban edge. (I can’t imagine this one getting messy on the railway sidings any evening soon).
This fragrance is about as edgy as a Jaffa Cake. It has a very safe set of masculine ingredients and, while nothing bad, it’s nothing we haven’t seen many times before. Mass fragrance brands need to start taking risks if they’re going to stand out from the crowd. Fragrance saturation is catching up on luxury brands and people aren’t as seduced by the designer name anymore.”
Jimmy Choo - Urban Hero - 100ml - £70 - Stockist: The Perfume Shop
Disclosure - A sample product was gifted by Jimmy Choo to review
Something in fashion will always come along to push you out of your comfort zone. It’s a good thing. After seeing the SS20 pleated dresses for men at Louis Vuitton - pictured below - I thought I was ready for some pleats. Add in the kilt tradition, plus Dior’s now signature side sash and the timing feels right.
COS has this half kilt - a full kilt would probably use too much fabric and be too expensive - but it gives you that Dior side-sash look.
An Asian man stopped me in the street in this and asked me if it was ‘cultural’. Must be the red hair!
You do really need to get the matching trousers, but it’s something dressy, yet different and would look great at a dinner or smart winter party.
Left, Right & Below Left - COS - Pleated Wool Kilt - £115
Disclosure Trousers & Kilt #Gifted by COS
Below - Dior Men, Below Right - Louis Vuitton SS20
Moschino’s latest men’s fragrance is a spicy, woody amber. Containing top notes of Italian bergamot, pink berries, elemi, Indonesian nutmeg, pear, cloves, heart notes of Neoabsolut Orpur rose, flax flowers, cashmeran, magnolia and base notes: Haiti Orpur vetiver, ambermax and sylkolide.
TheChicGeek says, “Sinitta once sang, ‘He’s my toy boy, toy boy, I’m out with my toy boy, toy boy, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday night,’ well, it kept her busy, and Moschino’s Jeremy Scott is having some serious leather boy fun with his one.
The fragrance is a sparkling rose surrounded by notes I can’t quite put my finger on. There are lots of ingredients here that I don’t recognise.
It’s camper than Katy Perry dressed as a chandelier and that makes it all the more interesting. It’s the opposite of the imagery and while a reflection of the bottle, the fragrance feels pink in colour.
I love what Scott does at Moschino and his playfulness was made for fragrances and especially the packaging. The choice of model and styling really works for this.” *puts chaps on*
Left - Moschino Toy Boy - 100 ML - £85 Exclusive to Selfridges
Right - A look that never gets old - Jhona Burjack in the advert for Toy Boy
Disclosure - A sample product was gifted by Moschino to review