The greatest gift – Christmas ads 2016

You know it’s nearly Christmas when TV advertising moves on from a never ending sofa sale to special heart warming premieres of bouncing animals. Emotionally captivating, heart racing or eye catching they may be but it’s the effort that goes into creating such blockbusters that really deserves some congratulations.

Let’s start with the one everyone’s talking about, every year, John Lewis. This year has been no different with a masterclass in television advertising from the retail giants with their ad ‘Bounce’. As avid watchers decide whether it’s the best ad of the season, I can’t help getting excited about that impressive photo real animation. Their behind the scenes video (exclusively available on sky at the moment) reveals all about the effort that goes into creating something, which to the eye seems completely perfect. Buster the boxer is in-fact part real (a boxer dog called Biff) and part computer generated along with the other animals, taking a lot of time, patience and layers to create an end result, which to our eyes looks pretty realistic. Add to that some music by the perfectly haunting Vaults and you’ve got a very strong contender.

Let’s go across now to Sainsbury’s who really have created a blockbuster, lasting a whopping 3minutes 35seconds. But it’s not that, or the fact it’s soundtrack was sung by James Corden, but the outstanding stop motion animation that catches my attention here. Notoriously difficult and time consuming, stop motion animation has been used for films and programmes such as the infamous Wallace & Gromit or Coraline, it essentially involves stringing together a lengthly series of images with just a few tiny differences in each one, so that when put together it seems like you’ve recorded a whole piece of video. What’s even better is that alongside the ad, there’s a free app that allows you to make your own stop-motion film and a kit for purchase at Sainsbury’s stores to create scenes with the characters from the campaign (even better again, all proceeds go to Great Ormond Street Hospital). You can watch the Sainsbury’s behind the scenes video here. So with that, plus the lack of in your face marketing and the message that christmas is for sharing they could be on to a winner.

Now, onto the adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s story ‘Coming Home’ by Waitrose. Firstly, let’s get this out of the way, a tear definitely came to my eye when I thought the little robin had died, but it was all okay when we discovered that it all ended with a happy love story. Not only have Waitrose used some amazing computerised graphics (much like their John Lewis Partners bounce ad) to bring their robin to life, they’ve adapted a novel by one of britain’s best authors and created a truly emotional story in just one minute thirty seconds. You can listen to Michael reading an extract of his book on the grocers youtube channel and of course purchase the book in full. This ad is definitely high on my list, purely because it got me.

It seems that M&S have caught the attention of many this year with something a little different. Move over Father Christmas, Mrs Claus is taking the lead this year. Tired of kipping on the sofa whilst Santa makes his deliveries, Mrs C keeps a few letters behind and moves heaven and earth to make some last minute christmas dreams come true. She’s not that traditional either, forget reindeers and sleighs it’s all about helicopters and Aston Martins for her, girl power all the way. Indeed the crew had to land a helicopter in Central London and wrestle with actual reindeers to shoot this Tom Hooper directed feature. The Brilliance of smouldering Brit actress Janet McTeer is classy and touching, all enhanced with the many other characters including Jake, his family and pets too. Since it’s extra special launch for channel 4, M&S have really created a campaign with longevity and lots of potential which has already proven a hit with customers. You can watch the behind the scenes video to see more about how this ad was created, but if you’re anything like me you’re already bowled over by Mrs Claus and are currently marking out a giant landing pad in the garden in preparation for her arrival this Christmas.

Yetis skated the way for digital retailer Argos this year, filmed in Warsaw with post-edit adding an extra finish, the colourful creatures add a fast paced, thrilling, alternative option to other retailers heart wrenching stories. The average human runs at 15 miles/hour and Usain Bolt runs at 27.8 miles an hour – but yetis are said to reach speeds of 35-40 miles an hour. On skates, on ice, they are by far the fastest way to deliver Argos products as the advert homes in on the retailers Fast Track Delivery and Collection propositions. Also unlike it’s competitors those Yetis are actually costumes with Pro skaters, like twice British Figure Skating Champion Peter Hallam inside. Each of Argos’ hyper-realistic yetis cost £30,000 to build and were made by award-winning SFX experts Animated Extras. Plus with a special version of ‘What’s This?’ performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, for Argos christmas couldn’t get much more exciting… or so you’d think, but people have since spotted the yetis roaming the streets and they’ve even joined in with the fun on a trampoline.

Finally, to end on a high, I couldn’t miss out Kevin the Carrot from budget grocer Aldi. Continuing their tongue-in-cheek style of advertising Kevin is on a mission with the night before christmas as a loose theme. With comedic tones throughout, Kevin’s story tells Aldi’s message of price and quality in a way that grabs attention and the creation of their orange character gives the brand a fantastic campaign to land their messaging this festive season. Animated on top of specially recorded footage, he’s given me a chuckle or two already, especially when he reacted like most of us this season upon the release of the John Lewis ad. Loop complete and we’re back to the start of the post, I’ll let you decide which is your favourite, but I’m blown away by the sheer effort and skill in all of these.

2 Replies to “The greatest gift – Christmas ads 2016”

  1. Good analysis of the Christmas ads and totally up your street too. I haven’t seen the Waitrose one yet, but M&S is my fave so far. An excellent modern but sentimental ad!


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