While one of Britain’s favorite sports is rugby (the national team fell just short of the Rugby World Cup championship game this year in a final against South Africa), one could argue that watching Christmas season ads is its marketing equivalent. For some time, the standard-bearers have been John Lewis and Partners, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer with extravagant ads akin to what we see during the Super Bowl here.
Yet, over the years, other U.K. retailers have upped the ante, creating work meant to tug mightily at heartstrings. The first salvo in 2019 came from catalog chain Argos, with what might be considered an instant classic. Not far behind is grocery store Asda with a two-minute spot from AMV BBDO that captures the magic of the season. It’s the second campaign from the agency for the retailer.
The stars of the show are two precocious children and the Northern Lights, representing Santa’s leftover magic. Tilly, the young girl, sets out to capture that special feeling from the sky, creating a makeshift pole using various things around the house, including her grandfather’s walking stick. A glass jar at the end of the stick scoops up the remnants in the sky and Tilly begins to spread it around, turning a dull village into a vibrant palette of wonder.
Of course, all good things come to an end, and a dejected Tilly heads to bed. Her brother, Jack, senses her malaise, and he goes up for another round of magic that greets her the next morning, keeping the mood bright.
Perhaps ironically, the ad was shot in Tyldesley, a town outside of Wigan in England, once known for its lackluster Christmas decorations.
“Our team loved filming in Tyldesley and getting to know the local community,” said Eilidh Macaskill, vp of creative and media at Asda. “The residents were so welcoming to us, and everyone really got into the festive spirit.”
While the ad (and all like them) is meant to drum up business for a U.K. retail sector in severe decline, it also serves as a charitable opportunity with a digital storybook extension benefitting the brand’s Fight Hunger Create Change initiative and its own foundation that supports 1,500 charities across the country.
Project: ASDA ‘Let’s Make Christmas Extra Special’
Creative Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Andy Clough & Rich McGrann
Copywriter: Neil Clarke
Art Director: Jay Phillips
Agency Producer: Nick Godden, Felicity Bamber
Director: Tom Green
Production Company: Stink
Post-production Company: Electric Theatre Collective
Producer: Matt Williams
2D Lead: Iain Murray
3D Lead: Tobin Brett
Editor: James Forbes-Robertson at Trim
Audio Post-production: Parv Thind at WAVE
Music Company: Radford Music
Composers: Rohan Stevenson and James Radford
Andy Murray (Chief Customer Officer)
Eilidh MacAskill (VP Creative and Media)
Leah Spears (Senior Director Food Comms)
Rebecca Holmes (Senior Campaign Manager)
Agency Strategist: Sam Williams & Jack Swain
Agency Account Team: Bobbie Gannon, Charlotte Oram, Phoebe Swan, Annabel Jerome, Tom Penrose, Beth McQueen, Amy Blakey
Business Affairs: Maxine Thompson & Tony Price
Print & Design: Chris Champan, Simon Dilks, Ian Mills, Kate Mahon
Interactive: Bashak Yenier, Michelle Walton
Media Agency: Blue 449