M&S, Waitrose, Lego, Barbour, Sports Direct join fray

Xmas2Another day, another onslaught of seasonal ads has burst on to screens large and small across the UK, as brands join the Christmas quest to get on the nation’s festive shopping lists.

First up, the second ad from Marks & Spencer, which has enlisted A-list stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney to voice two characters as part of its six-part 2023 campaign for M&S Food.

The series, to be shown across TV and on social media, sees the actors voicing new characters ‘the Mittens’, while Dawn French reprises her role as the M&S Fairy. It begins with the pair of Mittens showing up lost at the Fairy’s house. Springing into action, the Fairy soon cheers them up with the magic of M&S’ festive food and drink range.

The six-part campaign – with five 30-second spots to follow – spans the entire festive period, with the final creative focusing on the New Year’s Eve range, and released on December 26.

The retailer has also launched an initiative, partnering with Wrexham AFC – which the actors bought last year – to see national and community-led activations, aimed at supporting children and families in the local area.

Waitrose has also joined the fray, championing food and drink as the ‘good stuff’ and featuring British TV and radio host Graham Norton.

The first Christmas ad created by Saatchi & Saatchi, and set to Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough, the 90-second spot places food and drink at the centre of celebrations, showing a number of unfortunate party mishaps all being made better by the food on offer.

A cameo by Norton sees him save the day by bringing a bottle of ‘No.1 Golden Bûche de Noël’ to rescue the party before reclining on a sofa to enjoy a mince pie.

Meanwhile, the Lego Group has also released its festive ad, which encourages everyone to gift the superpower of play this Christmas. The latest installment of the brand’s three-part Play Is Your Superpower campaign is designed to showcase how Lego brings a new dimension to festive family moments, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Produced in a collaboration between the Lego Group in-house creative agency Our Lego Agency and Droga5 Dublin, it features six “adventurous” children joining forces with a neighborhood of kids and adults in an epic snowball fight, in a film designed to showcase how play unlocks superpowers, or skills, in children that help them thrive now and in the future.

Alongside the film launch, Lego will be running instore and digital retail and shopper activations, including bringing the film to life for consumers in New York and London with interactive play experiences at the flagship Fifth Avenue and Leicester Square stores.

Next up is Sports Direct, with a festive spot starring an 11-year-old girl taking on and beating her favourite athletes. ‘Dream Big It’s Christmas’ has been created by Mox London, with media handled by The Specialist Works.

Designed to position the retailer as a brand that supports female participation in sports, the film starts with the girl writing her Christmas list at home, while the TV broadcasts a rendition of the 1985 Tears For Fears hit Everybody Wants To Rule The World by an imaginary band Sports Direction.

The film continues to feature her daydreams – competing with and beating sports stars such as boxer Conor Benn, sprinter Zharnel Hughes and England women’s striker Alessia Russo.

It ends with the girl being jolted out of her dreams by the doorbell as Arsenal star Gabriel Jesus delivers a Christmas package.

Finally, Barbour is the brand to have coughed up for Aardman this year, ditching Paddington Bear to portray stop-motion life on Mossy Bottom Farm.

The film follows the adventures of Shaun the Sheep, Bitzer and the Flock as they decide to repair the farmer’s well-worn Barbour wax jacket after worrying that due to the damage it would no longer keep him warm and dry.

Chaos swiftly ensues, and, despite their best efforts, the jacket is left looking worse than ever before. Luckily, Christmas is saved when Bitzer clicks his fingers and the farmer’s original jacket reappears, restored by the experts at the Barbour factory… with the message that for some people, re-waxing and repairing jackets might be best left to the professionals at Barbour.

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