High Five: December

December 5, 2014 / High Five

By Alex Reeves

Are you ready for Winter Consumerfest 2014? The best ads of the month might help.

Ding dong merrily on high! It’s that time of year again when capitalism goes into overdrive, with companies splurging huge chunks of their marketing budgets on schmaltzy nonsense to try to convince us to open our wallets for them. And all thanks to the birth of a Middle Eastern baby who may or may not have existed around two millennia ago. Cheers, Jesus.

We’ve certainly got a lot more yuletide marketing come yet, but here’s our rundown of the best efforts the ad industry made in November. Thankfully this year’s Christmas advertising isn’t all schmaltzy nonsense. Some of it’s just schmaltzy.

Brand: Freeview
Title: Left Behinds
Production Company: Rogue
Director: Sam Brown
Production Company Producer:  Kate Hitchings
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett London
Creative Directors: Richard Robinson, Graham Lakeland
Creatives: Rob Tenconi, Mark Franklin
Agency Producer: Becky O’Sullivan
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: James Rosen
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective

Freeview – Left Behinds

We’re quite used to this kind of advertising. Cuteness, everyday setting, clever CGI and a corker of a power ballad to burrow into your brain for the rest of the day. There’s certainly a formula at work here, but we shouldn’t let that fool us into thinking it’s bad. With some of the very best craftsmen realising the script, it’s ended up more than the sum of its parts – a charming film that warms the soul. And a nice Christmas present for Foreigner, without whose track the whole thing would be undermined. A masterstroke of licensing.


Brand: John Lewis
Title: Monty the Penguin
Production Company: Blink
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production Company Producer: Ewen Brown
Director of Photography: Joost Van Gelder
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Ben Priest, Emer Stamp Ben Tollett
Creatives: Daniel Fisher, Richard Brim
Agency Producers: Matt Craigie, Cave Ellson
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designers: Anthony Moore, Neil Johnson
Post Production Company: MPC

John Lewis – Monty the Penguin

The John Lewis Christmas Advert. Somehow, a fairly ordinary department store has managed to carve out a slice of Christmas tradition in Britain.  There are probably people who say “my Christmas starts with the John Lewis ad” (mercifully we haven’t met those people). This year’s offering delivers on so many levels. A wintery tearjerker in which a cute boy buys his cute penguin a cute mail-order bride. It’s heart-warming for the softies and easy to lampoon for the cynics, as the many parody responses have proven. Beautifully written and expertly made, it’s everything John Lewis asked for.


Brand: Maille
Title: Memorable Guest
Production Company: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Ad Agency: adam&eveDDB
Creative Directors: Richard Brim, Daniel Fisher
Creatives: Alex Lucas, Jon Farley
Agency Producer: Jack Bayley
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Bill Smedley
Sound Company: Factory
Sound Designer: Anthony Moore
Post Production Company: Finish

Maille – Memorable Guest

It’s unclear whether many people will see this online film, which is a shame because it’s funny. Made very much to the old template of a ‘viral video’, its success will depend on the right people sharing it online (and how much seeding Maille pay for). James Rouse made his name doing willy jokes on the internet and he’s still one of the best at this art form, delivering his unmistakable brand of nuanced comic performance. Respect to Maille for buying this filth. For a mustard brand with heritage, it’s a leftfield strategy.


Brand: Sainsbury’s
Title: Christmas is for Sharing
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production Company Producer: James Hatcher
Director of Photography: Alwin Kuchler
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Alex Grieve, Adrian Rossi, Michael Durban, Tony Strong
Creative: Tim Riley
Agency Producers: Rebecca Scharf, Nikki Holbrow, Kate O’Mulloy
Editing Company: Work
Editor: Rich Orrick
Music Company: Woodwork Music
Sound Company: Wave
Sound Designer: Aaron Reynolds
Post Production Company: The Mill

Sainsbury’s – Christmas is for Sharing

As if people weren’t talking about the Christmas ads enough already, Sainsbury’s go and throw some controversy into the mix. We’ve all heard both sides of the argument over whether it’s in good taste or not, but it’s hard to deny that it’s a rousing piece of film about one of the most heartening moments in human history, set against a backdrop of one of the most horrifying moments in human history. Take the Sainsbury’s logo off the end we’d be united in support for this excellent piece of storytelling.


Brand: Think!
Title: Don’t Drink and Drive 50th Anniversary
Production Company: Rogue
Director: Mark Zilbert
Production Company Producer: James Howland
Director of Photography: Jaime Feliu-Torres
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative Directors: Steve Jones, Martin Loraine
Creatives: Mike Sutherland, Martin Loraine
Agency Producer: Nick Godden
Editing Company: Final Cut
Editor: James Rosen
Sound Company: Wave
Post Production Company: The Mill

Think! - Don’t Drink and Drive 50th Anniversary

This one’s definitely no schmaltzy nonsense, but’s still emotional. Christmas is all about tradition. Sadly, road accidents caused by drink driving are one seasonal custom that we’ve found hard to shake off, proven by the fact that the government have needed PSAs like this for 50 years. The idea here is actually very smart. It manages to get across a message we’ve heard too many times in a compelling way, and reminds us that for the emergency services, it’s not necessarily the most wonderful time of the year.


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