Have outsiders H&M just won the battle of the 2016 Christmas adverts?

Forget John Lewis. This short film by Hollywood director Wes Anderson is set to be the hit of the festive season.

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When you think Christmas adverts, you think John Lewis. Maybe Sainsbury’s or Marks and Sparks if you’re a real expert. But outliers H&M might have changed that this year, thanks to a distinctive campaign filmed by director Wes Anderson.

Set on Christmas Day on the H&M Lines’ Winter Express it stars Adrien Brody, who worked with Anderson on his quirky hit film The Grand Budapest Hotel, as a harassed train conductor forced to break the news to his passengers that they will be delayed by 11.5 hours, ruining most of their holiday plans. But the passengers “come together” to build a surprisingly symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing Christmas brunch on the train itself.

I took issue with the rather more in-your-face style opted for by John Lewis this year, and H&M clothing takes a sort of back seat in this film, while Anderson’s trademark eccentric props take centre stage: strange maps, conductors’ uniforms, vintage Agatha Christie novels, the green walls of the train carriage, the homespun decorations. (Of course, H&M probably do have John Lewis to thank for their plotline following an impatient child waiting for Christmas to appear.)

Getting one of the world’s most instantly recognisable directors onboard obviously helps, but so far, this beats Sainsbury’s musical James Corden vehicle and John Lewis’ two-minute-long trampoline commercial.

Anna Leszkiewicz is culture editor of the New Statesman.

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