Every year, we eagerly await the, much-anticipated, Christmas TV Adverts from our favourite retail giants. This year was no different, Marks and Spencer were one of the first to release their ad, starring the loved and adored Paddington Bear. To paint the overall picture for you, the advert shows how Paddington mistakes a burglar for Santa Claus – I know what your thinking, but he isn’t the brightest crayon in the packet!
The story then goes on to show how Paddington helps the ‘burglar, now Santa’, to deliver all the stolen presents. At the end of the heart warming advert, Paddington, being the kind soul that he is, gives a marmalade sandwich (classic!) to ‘Santa’, who, according to M&S, responds with, “Thank you, little bear”. The public, however, have claimed that he says something a tad different, something which involves a well known profanity. Have a listen for yourself!
Not what you would expect in an M&S Christmas advert, now is it? We’re not the only ones to pick up on this, as soon as the advert aired on television, the public went into a Twitter Frenzy! Many commenting on how cute the advert was, until they heard the “F BOMB”.
It even gained coverage on This Morning, as part of Rylan’s gossip segment, with Phil and Holly. They couldn’t have laughed more if they tried! It was a highlight of my Wednesday morning.
M&S have supported their “Paddington and the Christmas Visitor” campaign, by selling a cuddly £12 soft toy version of Paddington and a £42 duffel coat. In addition, and a first for M&S, the campaign will involve a charity element, through publishing approximately 200,000 copies of a, limited edition, children’s story book, that tells the tale of Christmas. M&S have said that they will be donating all proceeds from the £3 book to the NSPCC, in order to help fund it’s Childline service over the festive season – if that’s not heartwarming, then I don’t know what is!
M&S are even hosting a children’s story book reading in selected stores and encouraging their staff to carry out random acts of kindness, such as free marmalade sandwiches in their Café – how cute!
Although, even with these fab PR tactics, the big question on everyone’s lips is whether the, now famous phrase in the advertising was planned, or if it really was a blooper.
According to the makers of the ad, Grey London, there are no swear words used, the burglar is truly saying “Thank you little bear”. The company’s Chief Executive, Leo Rayman stated, “Who would think we would allow a small, loveable little bear to be sworn at? It is for celebrating family generosity and Christmas spirit. It is supposed to be a moment of kindness. Of course, we wouldn’t put a swear word in a Christmas TV ad. It is funny how some people react to Christmas advertising.”
So, unfortunately, it seems we were all fooled this Christmas Season. However, intended, or unintended, it has drawn A LOT of media attention. So, it really was a win-win situation for Marks & Sparks, they were going to get PR coverage, no matter what and have, in my opinion, developed a fabulously clever and heartfelt Christmas campaign!
Kimberley O’Hare is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @Kimberley_Ohare and LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimberley-o-hare-b3225a153/