+353 (0) 1 685 3029  /  +353 (0) 71 930 0942

POSTED 1.12.2017

Lights, camera, Alan Hughes! Presenter was first star of Irish Xmas TV ads

You know it’s time to prepare for Christmas when brands start airing their heart-warming Christmas ads. Sparked with Christmas spirit, it’s time to spread the goodwill, and hit the shops.

By Graham Clifford

Ah, the 1980s. We were poor…. but we were happy. And as the third week in December arrived, a familiar advert warmed up a country fighting off hypothermia. That ESB ‘Going Home’ television advert with Dusty Springfield in the background and a fresh-faced Alan Hughes (Ireland AM’s presenter) returning home into the arms of his loving mother and a warm, cosy home at Christmas lifted us all.

I remember our house would fall silent when it’d come on. When it ended the room was full of smiles. It had, and still has, an incredible impact on so many.

The most interesting thing of course was that as a child the company being promoted by the advert was completely lost on me. I doubt I even knew what the aim of the advert was. I was obsessed with the story and nothing else.

Where had the young man who stepped off the train come from? What was he thinking when he looked out the car window at the rolling rural countryside? What became of him?

That decade of course saw masses of young men and women leave Ireland in search of work including three of my own brothers, so the advert had relevance.

And it —more than almost anything else— signalled Christmas was here. It was time to deck the halls and pick up those Christmas gifts.

Today, of course, the likes of the annual UK’s John Lewis Christmas advert, has become a major moment too — especially for kids.

Millions are spent delivering that perfect Christmas message.

But again, it’s all about the story. My children and I are enthralled by this year’s John Lewis story of the little boy with ‘Moz the Monster’ under his bed.

The adorable little fella can’t sleep because that pesky monster keeps him awake at night. To the soundtrack of ‘Golden Slumbers’ by the Beatles, as recorded by the British band, Elbow, little Joe becomes exhausted.

Then finally, on Christmas morning a badly-wrapped present under the tree, put there by Moz for Joe, helps the little boy sleep and the monster disappears.

It’s a simple story so very well told, and it wraps around the viewer like a cosy blanket in front of the fire when the icicles are forming outside the window.

Of course, the thinking is that by creating such a charming atmosphere it encourages people to go out and buy, it generates the feeling of goodwill and goodwill means retail activity.

But at its core, and at the epicentre of all business, is the story. Told correctly, it’s so much more powerful than a glitzy promotion of a particular sweater, toy, or other product.

Get the story right and you’ll bring people along with you on a journey….

*Image still of Alan Hughes in ESB’S 1980s ‘Going home’ ad.