After Controversy, M&S Recuts Its Holiday Ad

Because it's Christmas, not Thatmas

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on how upset M&S' Christmas ad made people this year. There were many reasons for this, not least the fact that it's not a great year for standout holiday advertising. Europe and the U.K. have been in a recession exacerbated by the war in Ukraine—with the U.K. politically and socially battered in general. (Even their Eurovision contestant this year doesn't want to be there.)

The Brits fancied good vibes ... maybe something to remind them of a time before Charles wore the crown. What they got instead was a Marks & Spencer ad full of adults being pushed to the holiday brink, and just losing it.

M&S has since said sorry about that. It has also quashed the original ad and released a recut version:

The original film focused on not feeling pushed to do things you don't want to do. Doing what we dislike doesn't make things funner. Instead, it makes everything harder, and we end up having a drag of a time. The ad offered catharsis in release from those social pressures.

The recut uses footage from the original, removing all the eye-rolling and disdain as various holiday humiliations take their toll. Nobody's torching invites anymore. The "going rogue" vibe is gone. Now, we watch people doing spontaneous stuff that largely improves the shared holiday spirit. (In the previous advert, it was clear that such actions were precipitated because they no longer cared what others thought.)

Another minor change: M&S canned the confusing "Love Thismas, Not Thatmas" tagline, which viewers either hated because what does that even mean?—or because "Christ" was replaced, depending on who you ask. Now the tale ends with "Love Christmas." (The voiceover, though, holds to some vestige of its previous iteration: "This Christmas, do only what you love.")

It goes without saying that M&S isn't going to win haters back over, because there is nothing to win. The mood of this time is just weird overall. A spot people can complain about does more of a service than a bland recut that sinks into an already underwhelming holiday pile. Did M&S have to apologize, or release a less controversial take on its previous work? Is that what we would've recommended as crisis managers?

It hardly matters. How many people actually watched the make-everyone-happy alternate ending to How I Met Your Mother? Right, three of us. And take it from John Lewis: there are more sinister things in the house worth worrying about. So, maybe just keep your head down and perfect your surveillance strategy.

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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