A couple of weeks ago, we shared the trailer for AMV BBDO’s new Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign, which is a film by director Kevin MacDonald compiled of Christmas clips submitted by the public. The trailer looked promising, and I’m happy to report that the full film, which is released on YouTube today, is (ahem) a cracker…
The film runs at nearly 50 minutes long, so requires more commitment from the viewer than the average ad. Of course it’s not really an ad at all though, and is instead a documentary that reveals Christmas in all its glory, including moments of joy, pain, and real hilarity. You can watch it below.
Christmas In A Day follows a similar format to MacDonald’s previous YouTube documentary Life In A Day, which also featured clips sent in by the public shot on one day. All the footage in the Sainsbury’s film was shot last Christmas, and while the film makes the odd nod towards alternative approaches to Christmas, it is focused in the main on the traditional British family Christmas. It takes viewers on an emotional journey through all facets of what Christmas Day can be, from birth (of a child) to death (of some geese).
There are many truly hilarious moments – the child wrapping up a bottle of Cillit Bang for his mother is a particular highlight for me – and also a lot of poignancy, with the film tackling how Christmas can be a difficult time too, for those who are homeless, on their own or with ill relatives. Due to the rough-and-ready nature of most of the footage, these sadder moments are delivered without sentimentality and are all the more moving for it. It is a rounded vision of the modern British Christmas, showing scenes of Christmas belligerence and family tension alongside moments of joy at receiving a longed-for present or at cooking the perfect Christmas lunch.
Sainsbury’s’ involvement appears to have been very hands-off – there is no branding for the supermarket chain shoehorned in, and bar a credit at the beginning and end of the film, no mention of the firm at all. And because it is all real, some of the footage raises issues that many brands would baulk at being associated with: there are some Christmas moaners in there, complaining about the commerciality of the season nowadays, and the odd uncomfortable moment of family discord stands in direct contrast to the usual image of Christmas that brands like to present in adverts.
Yet this is of course what makes it so absorbing to watch, and as a branding move for Sainsbury’s it’s a brave but brilliant one, placing the supermarket unobtrusively at the heart of real family Christmases. The ad industry has long questioned whether such subtle, long-form content can truly deliver the audiences for brands that a short TV spot can, but when the work is of this calibre it is definitely a risk worth taking.
Credits: Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative directors: Tony Strong, Michael Durban
Creatives: Phil Martin, Mike Hannett, Colin Jones
Production company: RSA Films, Scott Free Films
Director: Kevin Macdonald