Buster the Boxer Dog, Mrs Claus, a Robin, or a dad called Dave –  Who will win the hearts of the UK public this Christmas – and why is this so important to the future of broadcasting?

It’s that time in the run up to Christmas, when the first big media battle of the festive season is played out.

It’s not about the viewing figures for the big cinema blockbusters, sales for the Christmas number one, or the most watched TV programme.

This is about the impact of the Christmas Advert.

For the past few years John Lewis has led the way – but this year the competition is tougher than ever.

So who is up there and why is it so important?

John Lewis was first out of the blocks with “Buster The Boxer”. Then came Marks and Spencer’s “A Christmas with Love from Mrs Claus”, Sainsbury’s “The Greatest Gift” and Waitrose’s “Coming Home”

The titles make them sound like the release of hollywood blockbusters.

In many ways they are. These are huge budget epics. They cost millions of pounds to produce, and they are absolutely key to the success of the businesses.

This is a vital time of the year for retailers. The right advert can make all the difference between a great and a mediocre festive period.

Hit the right tone and you are there. Hit the wrong note and it’s a massive missed opportunity – with potentially disastrous consequences.

The thing all of these adverts have in common is great storytelling. People want to watch them and that is being illustrated perfectly by the number of times they are being shared and viewed on social media platforms.

Millions of people have already seen them on Facebook and Youtube. That figure is almost certain to grow into the tens and hundreds of millions before the end of the festive period.

This is the perfect example of native advertising. This is about brands taking control of their message and going directly to the audience.

Of course for the moment TV adverts are still important – but for how long?

Is there a warning here for broadcasters and their ad revenue. If brands can reach huge audiences directly – why should they spend vast amounts of money on TV advertising.

Have Buster, Mrs Claus and Dave ruined the TV business model as we know it?

Why don’t you decide – here they are:

Buster the Boxer – John Lewis

Christmas with love from Mrs Claus – Marks and Spencer

The Greatest Gift – Sainsbury’s

Home for Christmas – Waitrose