It’s that magical time of year when TV screens are awash with excited children, cute animals, snowy scenes and lonely old people receiving gifts.

The annual blizzard of Christmas adverts is well underway, with many leading retailers already revealing their schmaltz-filled offerings, from children capturing Christmas magic in a jam jar to Frozen characters creating their perfect dinner and neighbours rallying round an elderly man.

All of this, of course, is set to a soundtrack of slowed-down familiar songs.

The popularity of Christmas ads has grown immensely in recent years, with some viewing their release - particularly that of department store John Lewis - as the start of the festive season.

But just why are the adverts becoming such a big part of popular culture?

According to Stephanie O’Donohoe, Professor of advertising and consumer culture at Edinburgh University, their success is in part because they offer a perfect vision of ourselves and Christmas.

She said: “There are probably several factors here. Over the past decade, John Lewis in particular has been offering beautifully produced, engaging ads with imagery and music that tug at the heartstrings, and this has encouraged other retailers to raise their game.

“These ads legitimise the frenzy of Christmas shopping as an expression of love through the gifts we give and the food we provide for our family, so they offer an idealised vision of ourselves.

“Most have offered a strong emotional hook that will resonate with people and their idealised images of Christmas, family and friends, though humour, cuteness and a soundtrack that replays in our heads.”

She added that social media can also drive popularity as people like, share and comment on the adverts, which retailers can then build on online and in-store.

According to the Advertising Association, businesses across the UK are expected to pay out a record £6.8 billion on seasonal promotion this year.

So far, TV highlights have included an appearance by Mariah Carey for Walkers crisps, Iceland teaming up with Disney’s Frozen and Aldi’s take on hit TV series Peaky Blinders, which shows brussel sprouts dressed in flat caps calling themselves the “leafy blinders”.

Asda also attempts to pull on heartstrings with two wide-eyed children capturing Christmas spirit in a jam jar before throwing it around with spectacular consequences.

However, experts were not too impressed with Argos’s offering of a father and daughter playing the drums to Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me) as it went on for too long at two and a half minutes.

Sainsburys is set to launch its advert today, featuring the story of a young chimney sweep accused of stealing from a J Sainsbury’s store in Victorian London.

The much-anticipated John Lewis advert is also due out this week, with Scots singer Lewis Capaldi hotly tipped to perform the soundtrack to the ad.

Alan Wilson, professor of marketing at Strathclyde University, said the aim of many of the ads is to build brand reputation.

“These ads try to build an emotional connection to the brand,” he said. “I think what’s crucial with these ads is that they have music that people can relate to, emotion, humour and nostalgia to try to build that emotional connection.

“Some of them do this this year but some of them don’t seem to at all. Some, like the Argos ad, are also quite long so I’m not sure they’ll be able to maintain that connection with the audience.”

Mr Wilson added that the success of the advert is also important because some retailers may only pay for a few TV slots in the hope that it will become successful on social media and sites such as Youtube.

“The key thing is to get people talking about it,” he said.”It’s about keeping the brand in front of the customer and making it seem like you have some sort of emotional attachment to the customers you’re dealing with.”

For Louise Killough, a director at Scottish Advertising agency Union, this year’s batch of adverts sparked different emotions to previous years, with many moving away from over-sentimentality.

She said: “It feels like from this year’s ads there are lots of different emotions, whereas normally from a Christmas ad you expect it to be centred around love or empathy, and you end up crying at the end.

“This year’s batch sparked many more emotions like humour and joy. So it points to brands taking themselves a bit less seriously and being a bit free-er with what they represent.”

Overall, the experts agree that a successful Christmas ad can help to boost and shape the future of a brand.

So whether they cause a lump in your throat or your eyeballs to roll, the popularity of the Christmas TV ad looks set to continue.