If there was one sure way of knowingÂ in the 1980sÂ that Christmas was just around the corner it was the Woolworths Christmas TV Advert. Â Every year Woolworths would pull out all the stops and run a stupidly long advert that was packed with celebrity stars making a fool of themselves, all in the name of selling some Chevron music tapes or a carriage clock.
These really were epic affairs that went on for a couple of minutes. Â That may not sound very long but given the average TV advert is only 20-30 seconds you begin to see that this was a very unusual slice of advertising.
The average Woolworths Christmas ad went something like this. Â Shot inside what appeared to be a normal Woolworths store, a selection of minor celebrities would appear wearing some kind of costume related to whatever that years chosen theme was. Â Different products would then be plugged, with one of the celebrities mugging furiously at the camera whilst holding or using the various products. Â The name of the product and its bargain price would be superimposed on the bottom of the picture.
After all the chosen products, which could be anything from childrens toys, sweets, aftershave, clothes or anything else from the wide range stocked by Woolworths, had been shown we were then treated to a group shot of all the celebrities standing outside a Woolworths store, normally with lots of fake snow being used to make it all feel extra Christmassy.
Here’s a prime example of a Woolworths Christmas advert from 1982, featuring such stars as June Whitfield, Tony Blackburn, Peter Sallis and the late Bill Owen (from Last of the Summer Wine) and what appears to be a young Chris Tarrant (though the image isn’t very good so I might be wrong on that one). Â This advert had an Alice in Wonderland theme (I’ve no idea who’s playing Alice), hence the end slogan “Christmas Wonderland atÂ Woolworths“. Â With the news that Woolies has just gone into administration it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see such epic advertisements ever again, though maybe that’s a good thing!
Update! Sadly the advert mentioned above has disappeared from YouTube, so I’ve replaced it with the 1983 advert featuring Joe Brown and Rula Lenska (I think). It’s got a circus theme and isn’t as good IMHO. If the other one reappears I’ll put it back.