As the Christmas ads start to land on our screens thick and fast, the latest from supermarket chain Asda claims to be the “most magical” in the stakes. Directed by Stink’s Tom Green (known for his heart-wrenching film Still The Most Shocking Second a Day for Save the Children) for agency AMV BBDO, the ad sees a little girl capture “Santa’s leftover magic” in a jar by way of fishing from the Aurora Borealis, then spreading the magic dust around town to highly festive results.
While it starts off feeling very familiar to many ads of Christmas past, it quickly changes when the magic ensues, turning a local man into a snowman, people waiting at the bus stop into gingerbread people (and a house into an icing-topped gingerbread house), lampposts into candy canes, and sending a giant bauble rolling Indiana Jones-style down the high street. It also brings a glorious new Christmas tree to the village of Tyldsley, where it was filmed, and which became infamous on the internet last year for its depressingly dire tree decor.
“The film is set up north, where Asda is based, and where we grew up,” explains the creative team behind the ad, AMV’s Neil Clarke and Jay Phillips. “We were really keen to capture that northern spirit. You don’t see places like Tyldesley in ads enough. Which is weird, because a huge proportion of creatives are from up north.”
The film, in essence, is about generosity, they continue, “making Christmas extra special for the ones you love”.
It was made using a combination of live action and stop frame animation, designed to make the magic feel real, “like it’s in our world and straight out of the imagination of Tilly (the protagonist)”. Working with Tom Green at Stink and DOP Monica Lenczewska, as well as post production team Electric Theatre Collective, the aim was to make the magic come as a “little surprise”, and it delivers.
Look more closely and you’ll discover charming attention to detail too, such as the pub name The Northern Lights – apparently featured on page one of AMV’s pitch deck to Asda back in April. This, together with a musical score by James Radford and Wave, performed by a 64-piece orchestra, makes for a fittingly enchanting tale.