Right, you’ll need to bear with me, here.
As I start this article, I’m doing so with the intention of having a bit of fun with the concept of Celtic’s popular Christmas adverts.
That said, if it turns out there is a direct correlation between what has become an enjoyable annual tradition and our form in subsequent matches, I will absolutely take credit for exploring that.
This year’s effort, a Celtic-themed take on Clement Clarke Moore’s ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’, narrated by the under-fire boss Neil Lennon, is as good a laugh as any of our prior efforts.
While it’s unlikely to garner the hype of John Lewis or Coca-Cola’s expensive yearly efforts, it’s at the very least a festive chuckle for Celtic supporters, and probably the only reasonable opportunity for Leigh Griffiths to dress as an elf.
Does the Yuletide ad have any effect on the team’s form, however? Let’s go back through the last few years and see. At this point I’d suggest “no”, but if you don’t ask questions, you don’t get answers.
Leigh Griffiths driving a taxi. Scott Brown: commercial pilot. Brendan Rodgers as a bus conductor. The 2017 Christmas Ad really did have everything.
Watching it back now, Celtic really did have a frightening team 3 years ago. Kieran Tierney, Moussa Dembelé and Paddy Roberts sharing shopfront space would bring a tear to the eye of a statue.
The ad provided some tonic for the supporters who had just watched their team being horsed 7-1 by PSG in the Champions League.
The Bhoys subsequently played Motherwell three times in consecutive fixtures, scoring 8 and conceding 2, with two wins sandwiching a 1-1 draw at Fir Park.
Verdict: Hard to say with any certainty, because we immediately played the same team thrice in a row.
It’s funny, in a way, watching Brendan Rodgers talk through a mirror at the start of the 2018 Christmas ad, looking like the ghost of Celtic managers past.
It’s one of the less ambitious efforts from the marketing team, taking place entirely in one house, but the arrival of PC Lustig at the door, as well as a miniature Kieran Tierney shouting through a megaphone make it worth it.
Celtic, buoyed by the sight of Gregor Fisher winning a game of Top Trumps, went on a three-game winning streak after the ad’s release on the 23rd November 2018, beating Hamilton Academical, Rosenborg and Aberdeen away from home.
It wasn’t all rosey, though – Celtic would lose to Hibs and Rangers that December.
Verdict: our form immediately after the advert was excellent, but we fell away a little bit around Christmas. The sight of Scott Brown in a wig and hat combo led to three consecutive shut-outs, though. We’ll chalk this one up as a win.
The Bhoys were on song in the Winter of last year, both literally and figuratively. The ‘Star of Lisbon’ song was an earworm, and featured both a Celtic players’ choir and the scandalous attempt to rhyme “je ne sais quoi” with “better”.
Johnny Hayes in a cardboard plane is worth watching at any time of year, and the attempts to highlight the Celtic Women’s team were excellent. Also, it’s hard to argue we’ve ever had a cooler-looking back two than Kristoffer Ajer and Christopher Jullien.
I don’t know enough about the attributes of a choir conductor to offer a verdict on Neil Lennon’s efforts in this clip, but bonus points are awarded for the amount of screen time given to Bertie Auld, and how uncomfortable Leigh Griffiths looks singing.
Still on a high after conquering Rome on the 7th of November, Celtic were ruthless around the time this advert came out, securing wins against Livingston, Stade Rennais, Ross County, Hamilton Academical and Rangers before the wheels came off against Cluj on the 12th of December.
Verdict: it’s obvious, isn’t it? Good Celtic ad = Good Celtic performances.
Since last Friday’s reveal, Celtic have only played one game; a torturous draw with Jack Ross’ Hibs at Easter Road. The sample size is small, then.
We have big games against A.C. Milan and Lille coming up, along with the strange occasion of a Winter Scottish Cup Final against Hearts on the 20th of December.
Given the galvanising effect of the Christmas ad, you can only hope that 2020’s effort helps to spur the team on. “Clutching at straws, are we?”, you might ask, and to that I would say: yes, entirely.
The advert’s themes of togetherness during a crisis has echoed the sentiments coming out of Celtic Park this week, as calls for Lennon to go must surely ring in the ears of the board.
However, for all of his recent faults, you can’t argue Lenny doesn’t nail his side-hustle as a narrator. We’re hopeful for ‘Lenny: The Poetry Years’ in the future.
Verdict: too early to tell
Obviously, the Christmas adverts have nothing to do with Celtic’s performances on the pitch. If you’re desperate, however, there are crumbs of comfort to be had in looking at the upturned fortunes of the club after the annual efforts from the marketing team.
However you feel about Celtic’s capitalist credentials, and the importance our board places on PR and Marketing, it’s essentially a bit of fun; some respite for the players, and something less po-faced and sentimental than whatever you’re being sold on the telly.
It’s been a tough week. Enjoy some festive content from your favourite football club. Tuck into a Celtic Toblerone and cheer up.