Although many brands have moved away from emotional Christmas ads this year, Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) has opted for a poignant campaign for its first Christmas ad, which it believes stands up to the likes of John Lewis, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.
The ad begins with Freya, a young girl, asking her father about the story of Father Christmas, after finding a figure of him tucked away. She is told about the “forgotten” Santa, who has stopped calling on Christmas Eve because he is suffering from dementia and has become “distant and afraid”. Freya then sets out looking for a way to help him, with Santa’s elves depicting the charity’s researchers.
“Santa represents the fact dementia doesn’t discriminate – it doesn’t matter how rich or poor, big or small or clever you are, it can affect any one of us, even Santa,” Tim Parry, head of brand at ARUK, told Marketing Week.
The campaign, which was animated by Aardman Animations and is voiced by Stephen Fry, launches today (16 November) during I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. It will be broadcast for eight days on TV, through on-demand on Channel 4 and ITV player, and through social channels such as Facebook and YouTube. Although the hashtags #santaforgot and #ibelieve will be used on Twitter, the company has not put any paid spend on this platform.
Parry said the ad will focus on brand awareness and teaching the public about the disease, as he believes that public understanding around dementia is low.
“Awareness of dementia is high, lots of people know it is out there, it is one of our number one health fears, so awareness of dementia is not a problem. It’s understanding, they don’t understand what it is,” he said.
Despite the campaign only being the company’s third on TV, Parry is not deterred by the brands it is competing with, as he believes the campaign has a message that needs to get out, and that Father Christmas offers an important figure, which left the charity’s “hands tied on timing”.
“Our creative stands up pretty well next to John Lewis, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. I would hope that where their campaigns are very beautiful and they encourage us to buy stuff, ours will make people think a bit. Hopefully this is very different to all the other campaigns,” Parry affirmed.
He also believes that though emotive, the ad moves away from typical depictions of the disease or charity campaigns.
“We’re talking about the issue in a different way. We don’t want to show people sitting in a dark room,” he said.
“We’re not using the ‘dog in the rain’ idea that we’re seeing with charity adverts. With an issue like dementia we have to make people think differently and to do that we have to be more confrontational. We want to change the whole conversation around dementia and I don’t think anyone has put out a cartoon to do this.”