Littlewoods Christmas Advert

OnlyDads has been receiving emails asking us to campaign about the sexism of the latest Christmas advert from Littlewoods.

To be honest, I’d not given this matter much thought before the emails. For those who don’t know what the fuss is about, you can see the advertisement below.


(as an aside, it is interesting how Annz already knows every word to this advert, from start to finish!)

Is it something we will “campaign” against? Well, no. It isn’t. For us it’s the same as the Iceland frozen foods campaign of “that’s why mums shop at Iceland” Of course, there is inherent sexism; but the whole marketing industry seems to thrive on such stereotyping.

No, what really gets me about the Littlewoods advert is the “buy now, pay later” message. A quick tally of the gifts that wonder mum buys, shows a budget requirement of at least c£1,000. Take the John Lewis advert too. This seems to have (women) weak at the knees with its cuteness! But the key image in this advert too, is of the huge stash of wrapped pressies at the end of the boy’s bed on Christmas morning.

Christmas and mass consumerism it seems, have a grip on the western world like never before…

I have just finished re-reading Stan Barstow’s A Kind of Loving. There is a lovely scene in that book where Vic is wondering what to buy Ingrid, the love of his life, for Christmas. His decision to purchase a “compact” takes us back to an age where money was in short supply, and the act of giving was more important than receiving. A small gift – bought with love…

…I for one, long for the day where such simplicity can return to our lives.


About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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31 Responses to Littlewoods Christmas Advert

  1. David says:

    Sexist? Well yeah, and being a father it’s not me upset by this, but probably a lot of mothers who have had to explain that it’s Santa who leaves the presents, not her.

    The comments on YouTube are quite telling. Some think the ad is cute, but the majority think it’s in bad taste.

    To me, the ad portrays mothers in a bad light, as materialistic over spenders. If I was one, I’d be offended and complain.

    I’m too busy being angry at the kitchen knife holder in the shape of a stabbed male, and the Galioth T-shirts telling girls that boys are stupid and they should throw stones at them.

  2. David Cloake says:

    I agree with you most strongly. Add to this Iceland and its slant towards shopping mummies and you will get a sense of how it makes me feel as a blessed and domestically aware dad (you also know my views from my blog)

    This was in contrast to the John Lewis ad which had the opposite effect on me!

  3. Diana Jordan says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more Bob about Christmas and mass consumerism. But 2012 is fast approaching and we live in great hope for a massive change in consciousness.

    • onlydads says:

      Diana – one does suspect Christmas in 2012 (and for the next few years) will see this change in consciousness!

      Thank you for commenting

      Bob x

  4. Diane prince says:

    I don’t fall for this mass consumerism, never have. As an only child people think I’m spoiled. I am, but not by money, spoiled by affection! Money was in short supply when I was a child, I didn’t have the latest stuff, we didn’t have a telephone until I was 18, and the central heating was only switched on at special occasions. One memory of the largest christmas present i had was a sewing machine when i was 12, mum and dad bought it in HP and it took 12 months to pay off, it was £60! Have I been disadvantaged? Certainly not! I have learned lots more from the attention given, in how to be kind, how to listen, and manners. We also now treat our girls in the same way. They don’t go without, but they also don’t get hundreds spent on them at Christmas, and they themselves feel they have a rich life xx

  5. As a rather non-commercial-Christmas fan, I can’t stand all the “Buy, buy, buy” hype surrounding the entire months of November and December. We’re a family who makes presents from cardboard loo roll inners and tissue paper and collects sweet chestnuts from our walks to put inside the homemade (bodged) crackers!

    We’re not perfect or cutesy Cath Kidston types – just a bit poor! I hope my children are going to grow up with the same desire for “a book” or “a cd” as their present – and a love of the fact that having fewer gigantic (pointless) gifts to open leaves more time for sledging down the nearest hill!

    I would rather have something made or chosen with love than a pile of gifts of huge material cost. To me, the greater the pile, the more devalued the individual gift and thought.

    Of course, I could just be a secret Scrooge!!……

  6. Oooh, I want one. And another. And another. Brainwashed, moi? The difference between the Littlewoods ad and the John Lewis is that the former is about ‘Get Me It Now and Pay For It Later’ and the latter about ‘Giving’. But at the end of the day, they’re both about flogging stuff. It’s just that John Lewis have got a better creative agency. I, too, wish it were different (speaking as a man without a pot to piss in at the moment) but sadly it ain’t.

    • onlydads says:

      You’re right Keith – both are about flogging stuff, but at least Littlewoods didn’t murder a Smiths song!!

      ps – what you buying me for Christmas?

  7. sarah says:

    Wow, wish I could be like that, but in totally the opposite. I refuse to buy expensive presents because I know I can’t afford it and it only teaches my children that you need to have lots of money (or credit) for Christmas. At present I am knitting my 15 year old a blanket for Christmas. My children appriciate it but when they go back to school all their friend compare who got the latest gadget. Quite sad that this time of year has just turned into a money spending frenzy and it portray that you have to spend to keep up with all the other mind.
    That’s not me !!!!

    • Diana Jordan says:

      We all seem to be preaching to the converted here. I would love to hear from some of the big spenders as to what makes them do it and what it would take to make them do things differently.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Have to agree with Bob on this one, this advert is just encouraging those who can’t afford to buy the latest gadget that really they can, that it will be ok because you can spread the payments. Isn’t it the same with Argos and thier ‘lamenated book of dreams’? What a sad state of affairs, what does Christmas mean today? What happened to good old quality time with your nearest and dearest and the sharing of good food, company and a small gift.
    ps Bob, love the book, one of my all time favourites

  9. The way I see it is quite simple. Buying ‘stuff’, just teaches our children to ‘buy stuff’, there is no message in that, save for the time & effort it took to find the advertized/desired item(s), wrap & give.
    You got me thinking here, Bob. So I looked at some old adverts. I think they tried to brainwash us years ago Heehee:
    In the beginning 🙂

    Christmas has lost the plot and loads of us would like it back!

    Mortgage Christmas? No way, no how, uh uhhhh! *Shakes head*.

    (My mum used to have a compact, to check her pillar box red lipstick, it was a gift to her from my daddy, I remember it well).

  10. Chris says:

    I think this advert is appalling:

    The gifts are all ridiculously expensive
    …but it’s ok if we can’t afford them – we should just get into crippling debt
    Santa’s out the window
    My mum is “lovely” only because she bought all this stuff. I know we live in consumerist times, but do we need to revel in it!
    Meanwhile Dad is reduced to gurning at his bling D&G watch

    In fact, it’s made me so mad that I’ve voted for it as the Worst Christmas advert. Maybe if enough of us do, Littlewoods will realise they’ve scored a massive own goal and pull it?

  11. Pingback: Memories of Christmas | OnlyDads

  12. I concur. I caught that ad after I’d run my post berating Asda’s uniform advert and thought the same.

    And I agree on the other point of it being okay to portray happiness in the form of the latest overpriced electronic goods sourced in a no-way savvy way. Just this morning I was trying to explain to my boy that I don’t ‘need’ anything for Christmas, a concept lots of adults, let alone six year-olds, have trouble with.\

    Excellent points sir.

    • onlydads says:

      Blimey – I had this same conversation with Anya (11) last night. She is so keen on buying me something for Christmas that when I suggested she just makes me a card, we ended up with tears 😦

      …I just wonder just how powerful these adverts are now!

      • Diana Jordan says:

        Hmmm. I think there is a danger in swinging too far the other way and depriving children of the joy of giving and I’m sure your children really want to give their lovely Dad something at Christmas Bob, and to see the pleasure on your face when you open it. My husband told his children not to give him any presents and I thought it was rather sad, especially when he didn’t even get a birthday card, just a text, from his (now adult) daughter this year. Personally I would prefer to encourage children to really think about the person they are giving to and to make or find something suitable. You can always put a financial limit on what you think appropriate for them to spend and if they have to save up for a few weeks to buy it that teaches them something useful too. Of course, it doesn’t even have to be something bought, it could be doing the job you hate most for you for a week.

  13. I do wish some people from a few advertizing companies would see all of this.

    Maybe if they did, they’d restructure their adverts around (or at least to include) the percentage of their audience, who are in our/my position of not being able to/or understandably, not wishing to participate in adorning our loved ones with expensive items/gifts, at Christmas? Consequently, taking the stress out of what should be a tranquil, happy time to be shared with our loved ones.

    Sharing doesn’t have to cost money, surely?

    Does anyone agree with me that, society seems to have really blurred the lines between, can and can’t afford?

    Remember those old public information films, the short ones?
    Wouldn’t it be great if they did some of those, showing families who are on a tight budget, making Christmas what it should be?

    eg. ‘Christmas doesn’t have to cost the earth’ could be a good opening sentence. Anyone agree?

    They’ll be selling kits to make celebration cards, in the design of credit cards next! I can envisage the advertizing now… ‘Give your parent a hint this Christmas’. With ‘Open this (account) to see what you can buy to make your child happy this Christmas’, written on the front.

    (I have a response to what I just said, only it’s possibly not polite to write it in a public place such as this)

    • onlydads says:

      No need to be polite on this blog Evie!!!

      Tell it like it is – I know people love your comments 🙂

      Bob x

      • Heehee 😀
        As I’m a lady I’ll refrain from using any language remotely related (cryptically or otherwise) to what happens to turkeys at Christmas.

        People like my comments? Cripey! *Evie blushes a little bit* Thank you, what a nice kind remark.

  14. Ruth says:

    Hi Bob,
    What we should be campaigning about (one of the many many things) is the cost of credit.
    I do use Littlewoods because they do offer a 0% credit if your bill is paid off in a year all well and good if you are careful and don’t spend more than you can afford to pay off monthly.
    The buy now pay later offer is based on extortionate credit rates. You buy now, pay nothing for a year and then pay off in monthly installments over two years. However if you don’t settle your bill in the first 12 months interest is calculated from the purchase date at a rate of 32.9% APR, so after three years what you have paid out is more or less double the advertised price.
    Given that such catalogues are aimed at lower income families then I find it almost immoral that they push such punishing credit terms onto families that can ill afford them.
    This is the true cost of Christmas.

    • onlydads says:

      Very good comment Ruth. As you will have guessed by now, I agree with you 100%

      Bob x

      • I agree with this too.
        ‘Pay’ later is just what this sounds like. What an extortionate rate of interest 32.9% APR!!!
        It shouldn’t be allowed.

        I know people can get things when they need them, with credit being so easily obtained. But isn’t it a sad reflection on the state of affairs here in UK (this civilized society), that anyone should *have* to use credit in the first place?

        Spending can’t really go up in UK, with imaginary money that hasn’t been paid to the retailers (lenders) yet, or is unlikely to be paid to the retailers, if people find they can’t pay and have to consider bankruptcy.
        Kissing money goodbye, will not improve the countries economy.
        To encourage ‘real’ spending, IMO, the government needs to encourage ‘real’ (or realistic) wages.

        Wasn’t there ever a time where credit didn’t exist and people coped?

        Just saying!

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