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Newspaper front page with 'The Good News #33' written on it, on a green background
November, 2020

The Good News #33

Jingle bells, Covid smells, vaccine too far away… Oh what fun it is to watch Christmas adverts every day. For a very special edition of the Good News, we’ve picked our three favourite festive adverts so far this year. So, crack open the Quality Street, and read our thoughts on these Christmas campaigns.

John Lewis x Waitrose

How can you make a list of Christmas adverts without a nod to John Lewis? The high-end department store brand is synonymous with Christmas advertising, meaning its always under pressure to top the previous year’s efforts.

The 2020 festive season has seen John Lewis take a much more subtle approach. Rather than focusing on one character (which will then be sold in cuddly toy form in John Lewis stores) the two-minute film is dedicated to celebrating small acts of kindness, inspired by the response of the British public to the first wave of the pandemic. It’s only the second time the advert has promoted both John Lewis and Waitrose.

It begins with a young boy and girl in a snowy village, looking up at the boy’s football stuck in a tree. In a bid to help, the girl opens her umbrella, which turns into a ginormous red heart that she flings at the tree, nudging the football loose. The heart is then passed between a series of animated scenes featuring an array of characters and animals.

Why do we love it? The two-minute ad is a celebration of different forms of moving art – from animation and claymation to CGI and cinematography – it’s made up of nine different vignettes created by eight different artists who are leading experts in their particular art, including Chris Hopewell, who has created music videos for Radiohead and Franz Ferdinand, and French animator Sylvain Chomet. This unique approach was selected not simply because it looks fantastic, but also in the spirit of kindness towards the creative industries, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. Instead of a single production team, multiple artists were selected, giving employment to many people across our creative community.

A 30-second complementary advert was created by four post-graduate students from Kingston University who were chosen for their distinctive styles, which are joyful, yet humble. Both adverts were directed by acclaimed British director Oscar Hudson.

In another step away from its traditional approach, for the first time, a new song was commissioned for the Christmas campaign. Written and recorded by British soul singer, Celeste, the song is also called ‘A Little Love‘. Last year, she won a Brit Award and in January this year, she was crowned BBC Music’s Sound of 2020. Every time the track is downloaded Celeste and her record label Polydor will make a 10p donation to the ‘Give a little love’ campaign.

All profits from the ‘Give a little love campaign’ will be split equally between the charities, FareShare and Home-Start and John Lewis and Waitrose shops will work with local charity branches to give help where it’s needed in their communities. This could be through direct funds, food and stock donations, volunteering, emotional support or practical advice.

Still from animated John Lewis advert, of small child holding her glasses and NHS worker in a Hijab, sat next to each other on a train

Amazon

While the retail giant is not without controversy its advert steals the show this year.

Titled ‘The show must go on’ the two-minute advert sees a teenage girl played by French ballet dancer Taïs Vinolo – find out she has been given the starring role in her dance academy’s winter show. Despite her relentless rehearsals, the show is cancelled due to government restrictions (topical right?). After seeing her sister’s disappointment, the dancer’s younger sibling makes her a home-made poster, reading “The Show Must Go On – outside, Sunday 7pm,” before rallying their neighbours together for the DIY performance. The culmination of the video shows members of the community coming together to give the dancer the stage and audience she needed, while she delivers a stunning solo performance for her neighbours, set to a rousing, emotive soundtrack.

The campaign has been praised by many for highlighting the struggle arts workers have faced during the pandemic with a gentle nod to the importance of community.

The advert was directed by award-winning Prettybird director Melina Matsoukas, who has previously shot music videos for the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé, and more recently directed lauded drama Queen & Slim in her feature length debut. In a year that has drawn our collective attention to the racial inequalities still rampant across society it’s heartening to see a global brand highlight the talent of Black creatives.

Black female ballet dancer in white dress and headdress with both of her arms raised.

TK Maxx

The underdog that has raised the bar this year, TK Maxx! We certainly didn’t see it coming but the department store chain has secured a place in the best Christmas ads of 2020 with its Lil’ Goat.

Fronted by a well-dressed goat and narrated by Bill Nighy, the playful campaign reminds shoppers that everyone deserves to feel special this season.

Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen the ad opens with a snowy, countryside scene and shows Lil’ Goat frolicking in the snow, dressed head to hoof in designer clothing which his farmer has purchased (at a bargain price we imagine) from TK Maxx. We then see the farmer’s wife look out the window at the goat and say to her husband, ‘Did you buy the goat a designer outfit?’ Instead of acting surprised, farmer Gary replies, ‘Yes, she’s had such a hard year. She bloomin’ well deserves it if you ask me.’

The campaign strikes the perfect tone, reminding viewers that it’s been a difficult year for everyone, without getting too sentimental or sappy. As a creative agency, of course we’re a fan of the slick animation, showing a stylish goat blending in seamlessly with a flock of bemused sheep.

Still from the TK Maxx Christmas advert, featuring a stylish animated goat and a flock of sheep

Already tired of Christmas? Head over to our work page to learn about some of our past projects, without a bauble in sight.