Sky features Sing characters in musical Christmas ad: The Marketing Week Christmas blog 2021

Welcome to the Marketing Week Christmas blog! A chance for the team to cram all the latest festive advertising news into one place.

8 December: Sky features Sing characters in musical Christmas ad

Sky is launching its Christmas ad featuring characters from animated musical comedy film Sing, showcasing its heritage in entertainment across multiple markets.

The ad airs today (8 December), and was created in partnership with Universal/Illumination and directed by Sing director Garth Jennings.

The ad shows lead character Angie leaving work and rushing home to watch the Moon Theatre Christmas special with her family, only to be hit by car trouble. She ventures out of the car and accidentally stumbles on the theatre production, but injures one of the actors, who she then replaces.

Snow falls and Angie’s family are giving up hope on her returning on time, but then she appears on the family’s Sky Glass television singing Darlene Love’s Christmas, alongside other characters voiced by Hollywood stars Reece Witherspoon, Taron Egerton and Scarlett Johansson.

The ad fronts a 360 integrated Christmas campaign that runs in tandem with Comcast in the US, as well as Sky in Italy, Germany, Austria, and the Republic of Ireland. It will run on TV, VOD, OOH, social and across Sky platforms in multiple cuts.

Sky has also agreed on partnerships with C-screens, Virgin Radio and The O2, and will be showing the ad in cinema during Disney’s Encanto, and Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The broadcaster is also offering in its seven stores an augmented reality Christmas card experience, where the public can create a shareable animated GIF card featuring Sing characters.

Sky UK chief consumer officer Lyssa McGowan says: “Bringing families together through world-class entertainment and world-class products is in the Sky DNA. Telling a Christmas story with the Sing characters this year brings that to life in a heart-warming and festive way that you can’t resist singing along to.”

8 November: Twitter turns to users tweets for ‘perfect Christmas ad’

Twitter has turned to users of its platform to inspire the “perfect Christmas ad”, launching a surreal film born from a child’s imagination, that was originally pitched as a John Lewis festive ad.

Twitter user @DanannMcAleer posted a tweet that shows a Christmas story he wrote at the age of seven with illustrations, pitching it to department store on the platform for its annual Christmas ad this year.

Following the story accurately, the ad shows an animated story about two snowflakes called James and Jack going through an adventure where they are thrown from an octopus in the sea, into a snow spray factory on land.

Panicking that they are about to meet their doom encased in cans as snow spray, the two snowflakes run on a conveyor belt to get away but are unfortunately killed.

The ad then shows the original tweet that inspired Twitter’s activation. It ends with the caption ‘the best Christmas stories are on Twitter. Join the conversation.’

Twitter also shows Danann McAleer’s reaction to his childhood imagination being brought to life.

The campaign is by agency David Madrid, and will also include a giveaway of soft toys based on the ad.

“There has always been an amazing synergy between Twitter and TV, and the Christmas ads are a great example of this. When our partners from David showed us Danann’s lovely tweet we all knew what we needed to do. It’s been great to contribute to the magic of Christmas in this very Twitter way,” says Twitter EMEA Business marketing director Carlos Cantu.

8 December: Heathrow remakes Love Actually

Heathrow has recreated the monologue opening scene from the film Love Actually to reflect the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic.

The ad is a recreation of the opening scene of the 2003 film by showing people reuniting with their loved ones wearing face masks at Heathrow Terminal 3.

It is accompanied by a monologue voiced by Martine McCutcheon who was in the popular film, but the monologue was first voiced by Hugh Grant in the feature.

The monologue is modernised by one of the original script writer and McCutcheon opens in the ad with: “Any time I find myself worrying about what the future holds in these uncertain times, I think about the arrivals hall at Heathrow.

“We’ve been living in a difficult and isolated world for a while now, but as the world cautiously opens up, I see love and connection everywhere.”

Research commissioned by Heathrow earlier this year found that two in three people (62 per cent) haven’t seen a loved one in over a year, with 40 per cent of the UK having loved ones who live abroad.

Heathrow chief of staff Nigel Milton says: “The world of travel has had significant challenges over the past two years, but we are all doing everything we can to help reunite families and friends around the world safely.”

7 December: Walkers and Comic Relief team up on mental health message

Walkers is partnering with Comic Relief for the launch of its Christmas advert focusing on the importance of mental wellbeing.

The ad, created by agency VCCP, launches today on YouTube and will air tomorrow night (8 December) on ITV during the first break for Coronation Street.

Set to a cover of ‘Winter Wonderland’ by up-and-coming artist Lily Oscar, the ad shows the main character Larry arriving at a festive family party accompanied by an emoji, which subconsciously displays what he’s feeling despite him putting on a façade.

In the final scene, Larry finds his friend in the kitchen who asks him “How are you?”, to which Larry replies with “I’m fine”. His friend goes on to ask, “How are you really?”.

To the second question, Larry opens up and the friends share a laugh together. The purpose of the ad is to remind the nation that opening up and talking can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing.

The ad ends with a voiceover from radio presenter Roman Kemp explaining “It’s good to share… just not your crisps”.

In addition to the ad, Walkers is rolling out special fundraising QR codes which take crisp fans through to a ‘smile-moji’ filter. Whenever the filter is used, Walkers will donate 10p to Comic Relief.

The campaign also forms part of the snack brand’s continued work with Comic Relief to raise £2m for projects that support mental wellbeing within the UK by the end of 2022.

Funds will go towards supporting mental wellbeing programmes in the UK and form part of Walkers and Comic Relief’s work on joint programme, The Smiles Fund.

Walkers senior marketing manager Josephine Taylor says: “This Christmas, in partnership with Comic Relief we’re proud to dedicate our advert to raising awareness of mental wellbeing, and we hope that the launch will raise lots of smiles and get the nation talking this Christmas.”

2 December: Diageo joins forces with government to tackle drink driving this Christmas

Diageo has partnered with the government’s road safety campaign Think! on a digital programme to tackle drink driving over the festive period.

Think! will relaunch its #PintBlock campaign, which is aimed at young male drivers. Leading the campaign will be a series of short films that will be distributed across social and digital displays in pubs and bars nationwide.

They will direct viewers to a landing page on the Think! website featuring ‘Wrong Side of the Road’, a Diageo developed interactive learning experience which allows viewers to have a conversation with a past drink driver and understand the consequences they’ve been through.

Government data shows 78% of drink driving accidents involve male drivers or riders being over the legal alcohol limit, and that young male drivers are more likely to be in a drink drive related road casualty.

The campaign will be supported through activations on the social channels of Diageo brands Guinness and Captain Morgan. Rum brand Captain Morgan has partnered with influencer and presenter Sam Thompson to release social posts in which he prevents friends from drink driving.

Guinness will launch social assets to promote its non-alcoholic drink Guinness 0.0, encouraging people to opt for a non-alcoholic alternative rather than drink drive this Christmas.

Department for Transport roads minister Baroness Vere says: “Our Think! campaign has already done so much to raise awareness of the dangers of drink-driving and this becomes even more important as we approach the festive season.”

Vere adds 32% of young men said they would feel uncomfortable asking a friend not to drink and drive.

“It’s vital that we continue to take action to change that. We are proud to be working in partnership with Diageo to change behaviour and attitudes around drink driving together,” she says.

25 November: Apple saves a snowman with iPhone-shot ad

In the latest addition to its ‘Shot on iPhone’ platform, Apple’s Christmas spot this year focuses on the story of a young girl trying to save her snowman.

Filmed entirely on the new iPhone 13 Pro, ‘Saving Simon’ begins with the girl saving her snowman from her destructive. She then empties the freezer to make space to fit Simon inside, where he stays for the rest of the year until winter comes around again.

But after bringing him outside again, a cyclist almost immediately pulverises the snowman to powder. Rallying together, her family help to rebuild the snowman, with the ad ending on the line: “To the ones we’re waited all year to be with, Happy Holidays.”

Created by TBWA, the spot was directed by Oscar nominated directors Jason and Ivan Reitman, who highlight some of the iPhone’s filming features. The song “You and I” by Valerie June plays throughout.

A 60-second version of the ad will run on linear TV and on-demand, with a longer form film on YouTube. Two 15-second and six second versions will run on digital and social.

19 November: Thorntons returns to TV for first time in four years

Thorntons is back on TV with new creative for the first time in four years, with a £3.6m campaign aimed at reigniting shoppers’ emotional connection with the brand and driving awareness in the lead up to Christmas.

Running for six weeks, the campaign features 30- and 20-second adverts showing a group of friends getting together, with one couple bringing a box of Thorntons Classic as a gift. Keen to open the box as soon as they arrive, both couples dance around the rules of social etiquette before diving in for the same chocolate.

The campaign follows a successful year for the brand, which has enjoyed strong sales of both its Continental and Classic products. Despite the challenges of lockdown, the chocolate boxes generated respective sales of £29.1m and £13.7m. Ferrero has also launched Thorntons Pearls, offering shoppers a new way to gift and share the brand.

Customer development director at Ferrero, Levi Boorer, hopes the campaign will keep the brand front of mind during a key festive sales period, ensuring “long-term success” and helping to drive purchase in stores.

“Thorntons is a classic British brand which our nation of shoppers has a lot of love for. This advert reinforces that, with an added element of humour to continue to help people identify with the brand,” he says. “Following a strong year for our core range, now is the ideal time to get Thorntons back on TV in a fresh and engaging way.”

18 November: Diageo launches responsible drinking campaign that spotlights excess

Diageo has released a series of 15-second films to encourage responsible drinking this Christmas season.

‘Know When to Stop’ features a number of quirky digital animations showing people overindulging in food, missing pigs fly as they’re glued to their phone and over-decorating their home for the festive period, before the tagline appears. It then directs people to DrinkIQ, a global resource designed to help people make responsible choices about alcohol.

The campaign is part of Diageo’s goal to beach 1 billion people with dedicated responsible drinking messages by 2030 and to educate people of the risks of alcohol abuse.

It follows research by the drinks giant that found 35% of people readily confess to eating and drinking more during the Christmas period than any other time of the year.

The animations have been created by award-winning illustrator Cari Vander Yacht.

Kate Gibson, global director of Diageo in society says: “We know the holidays are an important time of year for people to be getting together and celebrating. This campaign is a fun, festive reminder that there’s a happy limit to everything and the holidays are best enjoyed in moderation, be that drinking, eating, or binge-watching.”

15 November: Domino’s yodels into Christmas with debut festive ad

Domino’s has unveiled its first festive advert to “drive home the joy” of sharing a Domino’s pizza with family and friends.

The ad created by VCCP, is set in a town hall decorated with Christmas lights for a Christmas carol service. Choir members begin yodelling their desires to order a Domino’s (translated by subtitles) as well as highlighting the new edition to the menu – The Festive One.

The ad is a follow-up to the brand’s ‘Domin-Oh-Hoo-Hoo’ campaign which it claims was a “huge success” by reaching 95% of the UK population. The aim of this latest activation is to “supercharge” interest in the brand and position Domino’s as the “ultimate crowd pleaser” for get togethers among family, friends and colleagues in the run up to Christmas.

In the Christmas ad, a returning character from the main campaign joins in from the audience before it culminates with everyone backstage sharing pizzas as the voice over says ‘Get everyone together with a Domino’s this Christmas’.

This campaign continues Domino’s audio-first strategy as it looks to create a “valuable” new asset in sonic branding, which will also be pushed across social media.

Domino’s CMO Sarah Barron says: “The beauty of pizza is that it’s a meal that is great for sharing. At Domino’s we love being part of reunions among friends and family, and are excited to offer a slice of festive pizza during this magical time of the year. Our yodel debut worked incredibly well, and we’re excited to bring our first ever Christmas ad to fruition with a yodelling choir.”

15 November: Homebase sends Dick and Angel to decorate store

Homebase is launching its festive TV ad with “DIY royalty” Dick and Angel Strawbridge, the first time the brand’s ambassadors have feature in a TV commercial since signing them up.

The ‘It’s Showtime’ ad created by Atomic London, shows Angel and Dick sneaking into a Homebase store after closing time to do a Christmas makeover of the space.

To showcase the brand’s range of products, the two brand ambassadors grabbed items off the selves to decorate the store and create a Christmas fixture. A woodchipper is creatively used as a snow machine and a high-powered drill is utilised to raise a giant bauble.

Time is cut short for the duo when the morning shift team walks in, shocked and slightly confused by the magical wonderland that has suddenly appeared overnight.

The campaign will run across all of Homebase’s key channels and touchpoints. It will also feature a bespoke content programme that will run across digital and social channels, featuring Dick and Angel sharing seasonal and festive how-tos and tips.

Homebase director of marketing and digital, Lisa Tickle, says: “With so much excitement building, hosting a great Christmas can be an overwhelming prospect. It’s a bit like the pressure of putting on a show – making sure the lights, the decorations and the entertainment are all spot on. Dick and Angel are the best partners to help our customers know exactly what they will need from Homebase to achieve the perfect Christmas.”

12 November: Camden Town Brewery hypnotises bad gift-givers

In its debut Christmas TV advert, Camden Town Brewery is calling out bad gift-givers and hypnotising them to ditch socks and toiletry sets, in favour of a pack of Camden Hells Lager.

The animated TV ad created by Wieden+Kennedy, is set in an animated Camden Town brewery high up in the steel walkways where a new character called the ‘Giftnotist’ played by grime artist D Double E begins hypnotising viewers.

The Giftnotist counts to three while swinging a pendulum to hypnotise viewers from giving “bad” gifts such as bath bombs and toiletry sets depicted in a trance-like state.

The ‘Giftnosis’ campaign marks the brand’s second TV ad this year following its Hells Lager ‘Recall’ campaign in May and positions its beer as the festive alcoholic beverage to have throughout the holiday season.

Also part of the above the line campaign is digital OOH advertising in shopping centres across the UK.

Camden Town Brewery head of brand marketing, Zoe Wulfsohn-Dunkley, says: “2021 has been a landmark year for us at the Camden team as it’s been the first year we’ve launched not one, but two nationwide above the line campaigns.

“And in another brand-first, our latest TV ad marks our first-ever festive campaign to hit beer lovers’ screens. We can all relate to receiving those not-so-great Christmas gifts from a distant aunt or random work colleague, and although we love the generosity that comes with the festive season, we want people to resist the bad gifts and gift fresh Camden Hells Lager instead… because who doesn’t love great tasting, never pasteurised beer?”

12 November: O2 builds Bubl army to battle data poverty

In its first Christmas campaign since merging with Virgin Media, O2 is calling on consumers to help connect those without internet access this festive season through its new National Databank.

Opening with a shot of The O2 arena in London, the ad – created by VCCP London – unveils an army of Bubls, the robot character introduced by the brand in September last year.

Revealing that 1.5 million homes in the UK have no internet access, the horrified robots set out on a mission to “connect the disconnected”, heading out onto British streets to sneak into homes and connect families and friends. The 60-second film ends with a Bubl delivering connectivity to the smartphone of a teenage girl.

After a three month pilot, Virgin Media O2 and the Good Things Foundation are today rolling out the National Databank across the UK. The hub provides community groups with access to free ‘data voucher codes’ and SIM cards for anyone who needs them.

Furthering its commitment, O2 is promising to gift 10GB of data to the Databank with every plan purchased between 1 November and 31 January.

“This Christmas we wanted to celebrate the power of human connection – for everyone,” says Virgin Media O2’s director of brand and marcomms, Simon Groves.

“Access to the internet is an everyday necessity many of us take for granted, and pledging even more O2 data to the National Databank is one step we can take to help to close the gap on digital inequality.

“Alongside VCCP London, we’ve translated this important message thanks to the helping hands of our loveable Bubl army, and the end result is a beautifully sweet film that encapsulates the true spirit of Christmas, and the strength of mobile data in helping to maintain connections in those moments where we cannot be together.”

The ‘We’re better, connected’ campaign debuts on TV today during Gogglebox on Channel 4, and will run throughout the festive period.

The creative will also roll out across video-on-demand, outdoor advertising, and online video, with additional social media activation to see the brand building the ‘store of the future’ in artificial reality (AR) on Snapchat. Media was planned by Havas Media.

12 November: McDonald’s taps into childhood nostalgia

McDonald’s ‘Imaginary Iggy’ ad follows the story of a young girl called Matilda and her imaginary friend Iggy who bond over Christmas rituals, such as leaving cookies out for Santa Claus.

But as Matilda grows up, her love for Iggy fades and she starts taking down her drawings of the blue fluffy creature and hides him in her wardrobe.

Then years later as she enjoys a McDonald’s with friends as a young adult, Matilda sees a boy feeding his imaginary friend carrot sticks, which are rebranded as Reindeer Treats for the festive season.

This reminds her of Iggy who she brings out of the wardrobe to resume their traditions. The familiar ‘Are You #ReindeerReady’ tagline appears at the end.

For more on the insight behind the campaign, as well as McDonald’s strategy for growth, read our interview with UK CMO Michelle Graham-Clare.

9 November: Primark dials up the joy with festive campaign

Primark claims it has Christmas covered with a new campaign celebrating all things festive, from matching family pyjamas, stocking fillers and the return of party season.

The value retailer is using its ‘My Kind of Wonderful’ ad to show off its biggest home range to date, including faux Christmas wreaths, champagne flutes and cocktail glasses. Primark has also decided to highlight bestselling products, such as its blanket hoodie (aka the snuddie) and matching family pyjamas, which this year extend to your dog.

The retailer is going big on personalisation for festive gifting, alongside pushing sales of its bath and beauty sets after demand for bath bombs surged by 300% over the past 12 months. Back by popular demand, Primark is also turning its brown paper carrier bags into limited edition free wrapping paper.

8 November: Amazon preaches kindness after a difficult two years

Online retail giant Amazon wants to remind people that kindness is “the greatest gift” this Christmas, particularly amid the growth in anxiety and depression rates since the onset of the pandemic.

The ad, created by Lucky Generals, tells the story of a young woman connecting with a neighbour. It follows her as she walks through a busy, polluted city, goes to a university lecture, to a club night, and then home, while feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Noticing her state of mind, a concerned neighbour orders her a gift off of Amazon: a birdfeeder. The spot ends on the tagline ‘Kindness. The greatest gift’.

“This holiday season will be shaped by what we’ve experienced during the pandemic,” says Amazon’s EU general manager of integrated marketing, Ed Smith.

“The past 18 months have been challenging for people across the globe, including many young adults. Our time together cannot be taken for granted. So this year, whilst the world will not be totally back to normal, opportunities for kindness and connection will take on a newfound importance.”

To coincide with the launch of the Christmas campaign, the Amazon Christmas shop has now opened.

8 November: JD Sports takes celebrity-packed cast down ‘JD Street’

Celebrities including presenter Maya Jama, England footballers Jadon Sancho, Kalvin Phillips and Trent Alexander-Arnold, and YouTuber KSI are all joining JD Sports for its Christmas campaign this year, which celebrates the role the retailer plays in youth culture.

Created by Havas agency Cake and named ‘JD Street’, the brand’s Christmas ad opens on a busy town high street with a teenager being called by his mother to collect their Christmas turkey.

Putting his earphones in, the teenager suddenly finds himself down a magic high street where every store has been touched by JD Sports, from a dessert shop to a dog groomers. The two-minute spot ends with the boy in front of a JD Sport collecting a pair of new trainers, before he wakes up from his dream and finds himself back in reality.

The ad is part of JD Sport’s integrated global Christmas campaign ‘King of the streets’. To celebrate the launch, the brand has launched a TikTok campaign challenging audiences to show off their “signature style, skills and more” on the platform, with the chance to win £2,000 in cash.

7 November: Debenhams.com unveils Christmas ad ahead of ‘big’ 2022

Online retailer Debenhams.com is tugging on heart strings this Christmas with an ad that highlights the opportunities and memories children have missed out on over the last two years since the pandemic hit the UK.

The ad is the first Christmas campaign launched by the brand since it was acquired earlier this year by online fast-fashion giant Boohoo.

Narrated by a young girl and her father, the TV spot reminds viewers that this year, families have the chance to bring back the traditions and festive moments of Christmas, such as family pyjamas, decorating the Christmas tree, and getting presents delivered. The film ends on the tagline: ‘A Christmas like never before.’

Featuring a family of all ages, the campaign showcases Debenhams.com’s wide product offering in fashion, beauty and home, alongside novelty and dedicated sets.

“This year, we welcomed Debenhams.com into the Boohoo family and it’s been an incredible journey so far, with the relaunch of the heritage department store. We have launched the brand’s first campaign, to welcoming back Beauty Club. 2022 is looking to be a big year for us,” says Boohoo’s founder and group executive director Carol Kane.

“For the first Christmas together, we want to highlight the importance of family and inclusivity, from the perceptive view of a child, throughout the pandemic. There is so much hope for this Christmas to be restored to normality, therefore we want to support our customers on this mission to make this year a Christmas like never before with Debenhams.com.”

7 November: Majestic puts staff at the heart of debut Christmas ad

Majestic XmasMajestic is making its Christmas campaign debut – the wine retailer’s first commercial for almost a decade – as it seeks to turn real life staff into on-screen stars.

Set in one of Majestic’s newest stores, the advert follows a couple as they prepare to fill up their trolley with wine ahead of the festive season. The store team guide the pair to the perfect bottle, jumping out from behind Christmas trees, blowing party poppers and providing tasting samples.

The TV ad is part of a wider campaign spanning radio, billboards and digital, following what the company describes as a year of “unprecedented growth”.

The inspiration behind the advert came from a shopping trip taken by Majestic customer director, Matthew Gaunt, who wanted to recreate the experience on screen.

“When we came to create our Christmas campaign, we wanted to really celebrate and shout about those Majestic moments,” says Gaunt. “People love their local stores, the expert advice they get in there and the un-stuffy experience they have. That’s what shopping for wine should be – and that’s what we wanted to showcase in our first ad for many years.”

6 November: Aldi ditches Kevin the Carrot after five years

After five Christmases together, discount supermarket Aldi appears to have parted ways with its much-loved brand character Kevin the Carrot. In a teaser released this weekend, the brand instead introduces viewers to a new face: Ebanana Scrooge.

A play on the story of Ebenezer Scrooge as told in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the 20 second spot opens with a shot of a banana falling asleep next to a mince pie left out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

When Santa only takes the pie and leaves Ebanana behind, the character dejectedly declares that he hates Christmas. The ad closes there, leaving viewers to wonder how the story will progress.

The full ad, created by longstanding creative agency partner McCann UK, is to air on 11 November.

5 November: Argos encourages the UK to ‘go big’ this Christmas

Argos wants the UK to “go big” this festive season after the disappointment of last year, celebrating the people who love a bit of Christmas cheer.

The ‘Baubles to Last Year, Christmas is On!’ campaign, developed by The&Partnership, puts the spotlight on people going all out by wearing blinged up festive jumpers, baubling their beards and setting fire to the Christmas pudding with a blow torch.

The 60-second TV advert, which goes live at 7.45pm tonight during ITV’s Coronation Street, kicks off a multi-media campaign running spanning outdoor and digital.

“For almost 50 years, Argos has helped the nation get ready for Christmas; whether it be circling the gift guide, or browsing the website, Argos continues to be a source of inspiration for shoppers,” says Radha Davies, Argos director of brand communications and creative.

“This year, more than ever, we want to help our customers have their best Christmas yet, with gifts that their family and friends will really love.”

5 November: Three puts a dog in a turkey costume to kick off Christmas

Three UK is tapping into the UK’s love of dogs – and pets in general – with a festive campaign that sees a pooch getting into the Christmas spirit.

The ad, developed by Wonderhood Studios, puts a rescue dog at the centre of attention in his owner’s group chat after being photographed in various Christmas-themed outfits, from a turkey to an alpine skier.

The creative leans into the UK’s love of pets, with research revealing 65% of people take more photos of their pet than their significant other and 81% of dog owners have at least one outfit for their dog.

The latest iteration of Three’s ‘Life Needs a Big Network’ platform, the advert highlights the brand’s six months at half price offer, while over Chirstmas new customers will also receive a £100 gift card and money off their new handset.

The creative will run across TV, video-on-demand, press, PR, social media and in-store.

“Our new advert encapsulates why Life Needs a Big Network; to capture all the fun, small moments that happen in your life – and in this case, often with your pet,” says Three UK marketing director Aislinn O’Connor.

“We know that network performance is important for our customers enabling them to stay connected for all the moments that matter to them. That’s why we’re investing millions in our network and providing better connectivity every day for every customer.”

5 November: Vodafone uses Christmas to help those living in digital poverty

Vodafone is using its Christmas advertising campaign this year to inspire the nation to help those living in digital poverty in the UK by donating old devices.

‘The Gift of Connection’ follows the journeys of a young man leaving his house, a woman on a bus and a man cycling in a city as they travel to a Vodafone store to donate devices they no longer need, with their reflections  turning into Santa Claus as they prepare to donate.

The ad concludes with a girl applying for an apprenticeship on her new phone, with the strapline ‘Together we can give the gift of connection’.

Vodafone will add six months of free connectivity to devices donated to its Great British Tech Appeal, with charity partner Barnardo’s redistributing them to disadvantaged children and families.

The pandemic has highlighted the scale of digital exclusion, with the greatest impact felt by the most vulnerable in society. Around 1.5m UK households, approximately 6% of the population, do not have internet access.

In recognition of this, Vodafone launched a commitment to connect one million people living in digital poverty by 2022 through its ‘everyone.connected’ initiative.

“We’ve created an uplifting campaign that harnesses the generosity of the nation at Christmas. We want to invite people to join our quest to tackle digital poverty and do so with a motivational and positive message,” says Vodafone UK’s consumer director, Max Taylor.

“Our campaign gives people an easy way to help someone in need, and we hope many will find their inner-Santa and join us in our pledge to connect one million people by the end of 2022.”

4 November: Sports Direct rolls out £6m Christmas campaign

Sports Direct has unveiled a £6m Christmas campaign pitched as a “high-energy, star-studded rallying call” aimed at getting Brits off the sofa.

The ‘Go All Out’ campaign will run across TV, outdoor, social media and in-store, with spots chosen alongside Channel 4 shows Gogglebox, Taskmaster and The Big Narstie Show. Featuring England football star Jack Grealish, US Open winner Emma Raducanu and grime artist Big Narstie, the ad is intended to build on the success of 2020’s debut Christmas ad ‘Sports Starts Here’.

Set against the backdrop of a suburban street, the ad opens with the campaign’s stars slumped in front of their TVs. As soon as the snow starts to fall, they jump off their sofas and head outside for an “epic snowball fight”.

The idea is to cement Sports Direct as the “ultimate destination” for the sports and fitness gifts.

From 19 November, TikTok users will be able to prove whether they are ‘naughty, Narstie or nice’ with a bespoke gamified filter, Narstie’s Naughty List. Inspired by Big Narstie’s cameo in the ad, users are invited to test their heading skills for a chance to be included on the Naughty List.

“From your TV screens to your smartphones, Go All Out is a truly integrated campaign that shows up consistently, and natively, across multiple channels,” says CMO Beckie Stanion.

“We partnered with TikTok on a gamified effect that is interactive, authentic and rooted in our social community. The result is an engaging experience that taps into Sports Direct’s playful persona and the creativity and fun that exists on the platform.”

The campaign was developed by MOX, the London-based agency Sports Direct appointed last September to launch its debut Christmas ad and recent back-to-school campaign, ‘School Starts Here’.

4 November: House of Fraser becomes ‘House of Festive’

House of Fraser is highlighting the extent of its product ranges in its Christmas campaign this year, in hopes of appealing to those gifters who view the Christmas shopping trip as a single annual event.

Created by What’s Possible Creative Studio and The Specialist Works, ‘House of Festive’ features a multi-generational cast using products across fashion, toys and beauty to enjoy the Christmas season.

Like many brands this year, House of Fraser was inspired by research revealing that customers want to make Christmas particularly special after the disappointment of last year’s cancelled celebrations.

The linear and on-demand TV campaign will run against programmes such as the Pride of Britain Awards, The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, I’m a Celebrity, and The Chase. Supporting activity will take place across radio, digital, outdoor advertising and in-store.

4 November: TK Maxx launches biggest Christmas campaign to date

TK Maxx has put an “awkward” teenage boy front and centre of its biggest ever festive campaign, with the “unexpected hero” highlighting the positive impact a thoughtful Christmas gift can have on a person.

Created by ad agency Wieden+Kennedy London, ‘Christmas To The Maxx’, follows the boy, Laurie, as he gets ready to perform a Christmas concert in his local town hall. Though initially nervous and overwhelmed, Laurie overcomes his fears when he remembers that the designer boots he is wearing were an early Christmas present from his parents.

As his confidence grows, Laurie jumps onto the organ and plays a perfect cover of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way using his booted feet, earning applause and cheers from the audience.

Not only is the ad TK Maxx’s biggest Christmas campaign to date, it will also be broadcast in Poland, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands for the first time, in addition to the UK and Ireland.

There are four versions of the film, with a 20 second, 30 second and 60 second edit for TV and a two-minute cut for online. Print, digital, social, PR and TikTok activity will support the campaign.

“We want to celebrate what we hope will be a Christmas of joyful optimism -with community, family and fun at its heart,” says group director Deborah Dolce.

“This charming ad is an upbeat, colourful and super-shiny reminder that when you find the right gift for someone, and it’s special to them, the impact and happiness you might create knows no bounds.”

4 November: Peloton wins over modern day Scrooge

Fitness brand Peloton is hoping to show that its exercise bikes are for everyone this Christmas through a modern retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

The advert also taps into a core insight for the brand, that Peloton makes fitness, “which can sometimes feel like a chore”, enjoyable and fun.

Titled ‘When Your Workout is a Joy, it’s a Joy to Workout’, the spot shows misanthrope Scrooge – played by actor and comedian Brett Gelman- finally find joy and happiness with a Peloton bike in his life. The spot is scored with music from Danny Elfman’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Created by agency adam&eveDDB, the campaign will launch on TV in the UK tomorrow (5 November) with a 30-second edit, with a select combination of spots to also run on television in Canada, the US and Germany. Supporting activity will also run across video-on-demand, paid social, podcasts, and radio.

“This year’s holiday campaign embodies the evolution of the Peloton brand, showcasing more of the richness and fullness of the Peloton experience,” says senior vice-president, global head of marketing & communications Dara Treseder.

“It taps into the core insight that Peloton makes fitness, which can sometimes feel like a chore, enjoyable and fun. The campaign also highlights how Peloton is for everyone! If even Scrooge can enjoy working out with Peloton, you can too.”

3 November: Boots unveils biggest Christmas campaign in four years

Boots is hoping to tap into consumers’ growing enthusiasm to reconnect with their families and rediscover their love of gifting with its biggest Christmas campaign for four years.

Created by WPP’s dedicated Boots team The Pharm, and directed by Tom Hooper, the director behind films including The King’s Speech and Les Miserables, ‘Bags of Joy’ tells the story of a magical bag filled with an infinite number of gifts, which serves as a metaphor for Boots and all the products it has on offer.

Played by actress Jenna Coleman, the titular character Joy is gifted the bag by her nan and goes on to celebrate the festive season and give presents to others. The story culminates on Christmas Day, when Joy is able to give her nan a gift in return with a note expressing her love.

According to Boots, the campaign is its biggest in at least four years, with a reach of more than 18 million adults. Last year the retailer elected to not have a Christmas themed campaign at all due to the pandemic, instead launching a campaign titled ‘What the World Needs Now’, with a focus on kindness and value.

Bags of Joy is the brand’s second major campaign this year, following its summer ‘Feel Good as New’ campaign, which launched in June.

2 November: Etsy reminds shoppers to ‘gift with meaning’

Online marketplace Etsy has launched two UK ads for the festive season as part of a wider global campaign.

The ‘Give More than a Gift’ campaign illustrates emotive stories of gift giving, which the brand says is to remind shoppers to “gift with meaning” while highlighting the unique and handmade products available from sellers on its platform.

The first ad, ‘Our Santa’, focuses on a story about feeling represented and the way a son can recognise his father’s desire to feel seen through a meaningful gift. This ad will also run in the US.

The second, ‘The Tradition’, shows how neighbourly kindness can encourage someone who usually prefers to be alone to join in on a long-standing tradition, and is only being shown in the UK.

The campaign will air across broadcast, social and digital, alongside a UK-specific outdoor advertising campaign.

2 November: Hobbycraft adds bespoke song to Christmas campaign

Hobbycraft has joined forces with Leeds-based indie folk band The Dunwells to create a bespoke festive track for its 2021 Christmas advert, which went live last week.

The song was penned to help tell the story of Hobbycraft’s ‘Moments we make’ campaign and the full-length version will be played on the retailer’s in-store radio across its 108 UK stores over the festive period.

“Every maker and creator we talk to has moments and memories tied to their craft, and these stories have been the true inspiration behind our Christmas advert,” says head of marketing and brand Joel Pickering.

“Working with The Dunwells to complete the festive soundtrack helps to communicate our goal to inspire our new and existing customers to get creative this Christmas, whether that be by booking onto a workshop or visiting the Hobbycraft Ideas Hub, which is our home of inspiration and advice.”

The advert first aired across video-on-demand services on 25 October, including Sky On Demand, ITV Hub and All 4, as well as on YouTube and social media. The campaign, which centres around the sense of achievement customers feel when giving and receiving something handmade, was produced in-house working with a small team of local freelancers.

1 November: Lego looks to inspire ‘creative resilience’ this Christmas

Lego Christmas

Lego is hoping to unlock children’s creativity with a festive campaign celebrating the power of imagination.

Set to a reimagined version of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, the film sees giant bees scaring away Star Wars stormtroopers, a dragon spraying water rather than flames and cacti wearing glamorous jackets so they can cuddle dog-shaped balloons.

Developed by the in-house Lego Agency and representing a continuation of the company’s ‘Rebuild the World’ brand platform, the global campaign will run across TV, digital, Spotify, Snapchat, outdoor, social and ecommerce, as well as in Lego stores.

Shoppable formats of the ad have been designed to help consumers find the Lego products which inspire the children in the film.

“As with everything we do, this campaign is inspired by children whose extraordinary imaginations show us that the world is full of possibilities,” says chief product and marketing officer Julia Goldin.

“Whatever a child’s passion – whether it’s vehicles, animals, superheroes, arts and crafts, or something entirely different – with Lego Play they can explore and rebuild the world around them while developing skills such as creative resilience, communication and the confidence they need to thrive in it.”

Running alongside the campaign is Lego’s annual ‘Build To Give’ initiative. For every Lego star built and shared on social media using the hashtag #BuildToGive before the end of December, the company will donate a Lego set to a child in need, giving up to 1.5 million children in hospitals, children’s homes and vulnerable communities the chance to play.

1 November: Westfield looks to ‘re-embrace’ Christmas messaging

Shopping centre group Westfield is looking to “re-embrace traditional Christmas messaging” in a bid to re-engage consumers with the joy and excitement of the festive season.

Continuing with its ‘Come Together’ platform, the European campaign features candles, LEDs and Christmas lights to evoke a warm and festive atmosphere, with customer insight suggesting this festive period will be more “nostalgic” as shoppers anticipate a return to normality.

In the UK, the creative promotes Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City’s 2021 Christmas programme and will be amplified by a ‘sparkle’ Instagram augmented reality filter on social media.

Attractions at both centres include Meet Santa, a new digital and physical winter woodland experience whereby guests are led by an elf into Santa’s Lodge. The physical experience will offer a digital element allowing friends or family at home to watch the experience virtually.

“The Christmas period is always a key time for our centres, retailers and customers, particularly this year after a stilted and uncertain festive season last year,” says chief customer officer of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Caroline Puechoultres.

“We have developed a programme which continues to position our centres across Europe as the ultimate retail and leisure destination for Christmas. As physical retail has suffered with closures over the past 18 months, our Come Together campaign supports the widely held sentiment that ‘Christmas is back’, while capturing the multitude of experiences found at our centres throughout the season.”

28 October: Selfridges unveils ‘enchanted dream world’ Christmas theme

Selfridges Christmas Window Displays - 28th October 2021Selfridges has unveiled its ‘Christmas of Dreams’ theme across its window displays in London, Birmingham and Manchester, supported by a digital campaign starring actress and singer Jane Horrocks.

Inviting consumers into a “surreal, enchanted dream world”, the concept blends creative references from the 1930s Hollywood golden age, classic 1950s technicolour film musicals and an imaginary cast of characters.

The digital campaign, also featuring drag artist and sculptor Juno Birch, shows Horrocks playing the host of an off-kilter festive variety show for the digital age, where game-show nostalgia meets a disco aesthetic on a surreal set full of dreamlike characters.

“Fuelled by imagination Selfridges is here to make Christmas shopping and gift finding special and fun, and this year, a little surreal,” says Selfridges managing director, Andrew Keith.

“We know our customers have been dreaming of being together, so we are looking forward to hosting friends and families at Selfridges to celebrate even more extraordinary experiences this festive season.”

Recommended

Comments

    Leave a comment