Edgar, Kevin, Olaf And The Problem With This Year's Christmas Adverts

John Lewis, Aldi and Iceland's ads encourage us to buy "yet more plastic tat", say environmental groups.

John Lewis has Excitable Edgar, Aldi has Kevin the Carrot and over at Iceland, it’s not just the prawn rings that are Frozen, with Olaf taking centre stage. Core characters – or retailer mascots, if you will – are dominating Christmas ads this year, with UK chains selling a range of associated merchandise to boot.

Iceland – famed last year for its eco-conscious Christmas ad – is selling a metre tall Jumbo Olaf soft toy for £40, alongside a menagerie of smaller Frozen 2-themed products to coincide with the release of the new Disney film.

Iceland/John Lewis/Aldi

Meanwhile demand for Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot merch was so high last year, the toys ended up being sold on eBay for five times the recommended retail price (parents are waiting with bated breath for the 2019 release).

Over at John Lewis, you’ll find Edgar the dragon on everything from books, PJs, slippers and wellies, as well as the standard soft toy.

Of course, it isn’t the first time retailers have used popular protagonists to push products, but doesn’t it feel a little jarring in 2019, with growing environmental awareness and some retailers opting out of the annual November dealathon, Black Friday in favour of Green Christmas?

“Parents are being put under enormous pressure by Christmas adverts to fork out for yet more plastic tat that’s destined to add to the tide of plastic pollution blighting our environment and harming our wildlife,” says Friends of the Earth plastic campaigner Julian Kirby. “With young people increasingly concerned about the environment it’s time for toy manufacturers to take action too.”

Fanny Calder, director of campaigns at wildlife charity WWF, is equally unimpressed by the unnecessary products hitting shelves. “Our throwaway culture is one of the biggest threats to the environment,” she tells HuffPost UK. “Seasonal events such as Christmas can intensify our unsustainable consumption of the world’s limited resources.”

Calder argues that it’s never been easier to enjoy an environmentally-friendly Christmas, by making a conscious effort choose eco-friendly products and reducing the number of single-use items we buy.

WWF’s Christmas ad, titled Adopt A Better Future, highlights the deforestation caused by some of the products available at Christmas – and encourages consumers to think twice before purchasing them.

The ad’s release comes after Extinction Rebellion announced it will be releasing a Christmas single this year, calling for action on climate change “before we’re all dead”.

“By showcasing the devastating impacts of deforestation on our nature and wildlife, we hope that everyone will look to save more than just time or money with their Christmas shopping this year – but also play their part in helping to save the planet,” Calder says