Christmas ad accessibility: Lidl

Welcome back for day 9 of our Advert Advent, an accessibility review of 2017’s Christmas adverts. Today’s review is for Lidl, who have really gone for it this year – their “Every Lidl Thing For Christmas” campaign has eight 20-second Christmas adverts! You can watch them all on Lidl’s YouTube channel linked above, but here are a couple of them with captions enabled for you…

Lidl also have a global Christmas advert, “Beautifully Normal”… and a pony in a polar bear (or so the captions say).


Lidl have enabled YouTube’s automatic captioning feature on their videos… but interestingly, not on all of them; the Cheeseboard Champion advert has no captions at all.

Many of the captions created automatically by YouTube’s software are surprisingly good – some even capture when just music is playing – but none are 100% accurate. Here are some of the common issues:

  • The all-important brand “Lidl” is unsurprisingly captioned as “little” in the videos.
    Screenshot from Mince Pie Maverick

    Lidl captioned as “little”

  • “Centrepiece Showoff” gets captioned as “Centrepiece Shore”.
    Screenshot of Centrepiece Showoff

    Centrepiece “Shore”

  • The offer prices are not well captioned: the price of a 60-piece (“peaks”) box set selling for £3.99 is captioned as “399” (no decimal or currency in Double Dippers), and Hortus (“Hortis”) gin “for only $15.99” (seeing dollar signs in Tipple Technician).
    Screenshot of Tipple Technician

    “Hortis” gin, $15.99

When using YouTube to create captions, it is possible to download the automatic captions it creates and edit out any errors, or fix spelling and timing issues before uploading back to the video. This is very quick and easy to do, and even gives you a video transcript for free.

Audio description

As with each of the adverts we’ve reviewed to date, there are no audio described versions of these adverts.

Using audio description would be beneficial for getting across something that may be visually obvious, but that doesn’t come across in the audio. For example, in the Double Dippers advert, an audio description track could help get across the idea that double dipping is a bit of a social faux pas. The video description on YouTube does give an overview of the advert, but is missing this element so could easily be missed by a blind person watching the advert.

Screenshot of Double Dippers

Woman’s shock at someone double dipping their food

The legally required small print has no audio equivalent. If you hear promotional adverts on the radio, you should hear the voiceover artist talk very quickly about “subject to availability, participating stores only” or something to that effect. We can’t see the advert on the radio, so we should hear the small print. The same principle can be applied to an audio described version of television adverts.

The branding at the end of each video has no audio equivalent, but one could argue that there is little – or should that be “Lidl”? – value in this information, since a blind person listening to the video will have received that information elsewhere in the content. The offer adverts certainly mention Lidl in the voiceover, but the global Beautifully Normal advert does not, leaving blind users to guess who the advert is for and miss the fact that Lidl are using the #BeautifullyNormal hashtag.

Screenshot of the end of an advert

Lidl branding at the the end of an advert

Transcript features the “What kind of Christmasser are you?” adverts. Each video, both on YouTube and the Lidl website, has a good summary description, but none have accurate transcripts. The YouTube videos that have auto-captions also have YouTube’s automatically generated transcript available, but as mentioned in our other advert reviews, these transcripts are only as good as the captions.

Accessible video player

The video players on the Lidl website are keyboard accessible, but the buttons that launch the video players are not screen reader friendly. Since the adverts are embedded YouTube videos, the player includes the option to turn on closed captions and to go to the YouTube channel.

The verdict

Besides being quite funny in places, YouTube’s automatic captioning and transcript features have helped to make these adverts more accessible. However, as with every one of the adverts we have reviewed so far this year, there is room for improvement with both the accuracy of the captions for deaf viewers and provisions for blind and low vision people.

Please do share our Christmas advert accessibility reviews so we can ensure more people enjoy these mini blockbusters in future years. And check back tomorrow for another review.