Burberry: Festive commercial

Burberry’s 2020 Christmas Ad is a delightfully cheery update of Singin’ in the Rain, which is of course super cool. It won in three categories in this year’s Annual. Words: Rebecca Fulleylove

It’s hard to stand out when the slew of Christmas ads arrive in full force, but Burberry’s spot, Festive, offered a choreographed fashion film that abandoned the typical schmaltz in favour of celebrating the brand’s heritage and what it means today. 

The ad was produced by Riff Raff Films and created in collaboration with directing quartet Megaforce, who have made music videos and commercials for the likes of Apple, Ikea, Nike, and Lacoste, among many others. Known for their fresh approach and seamless transitions, they brought in dance collective (La)Horde as the brains behind the choreography. 

Riff Raff was both creative agency and production company on the project, and the brief they were given was to capture what Burberry stands for today. The teams and collaborators involved wanted to create something playful, unique and to also capture a sense of friendship and togetherness through the dancers.

The past year has been tough for us all, so we imagined ice blocks falling from the sky and a group of friends navigating their way through the adversity

Kitted out in the best of Burberry, dancers Kevin Bago, Robinson Cassarino, Chantel Food and Zhané Samuels move in synchronicity down London’s Petticoat Lane. The spot is a nod to the 1950s classic film, Singin’ in the Rain, and Megaforce wanted to create a version that “speaks for our times”. So to undercut anything too dewy-eyed, a snowstorm of giant ice blocks fall from the sky, forcing the dancers to outmanoeuvre the inclement weather with graceful ease. 

“We found the idea for this film digging through Burberry’s history. The founder, Thomas Burberry, created innovative weatherproof clothing that was used by polar explorers, which gave us this idea of a story that saw its characters braving the elements,” explain Megaforce. 

“The past year has been tough for us all, so we imagined ice blocks falling from the sky and a group of friends navigating their way through the adversity, because going through these times is a thing that we’d better do together.”

The ice blocks were created by visual effects company MPC, which synchronised the giant snowstorm with the live action footage seamlessly. “To do this it was essential to capture data on set, so we took detailed photogrammetry of the streets and referenced real ice blocks shattering; this was used as the base for our CG,” explains Rob Richardson, the 3D lead at MPC. 

“There were many instances of the dancers going backwards and forwards over each other. For this type of FX work – ice smashing – we typically use SideFX Houdini software. In this project, we were able to take full advantage of its procedural nature to create our layout tools.” 

Connecting the ice falling with the physical world was by far the biggest challenge of the campaign, yet the most creatively rewarding for the team. This included matching the blocks falling with both the choreography and the dancers’ eyelines, as they had no on-set reference when interacting with the ice. 

The final scene was also a collaborative feat. As the camera pans over the ocean, and with no solid reference points to help lock the frame, it took time to finesse the integration of those 3D splashes. “It turned out to be an amazing shot,” says Robinson. “Overall, the work is an epic, captivating campaign that MPC is proud to be a part of.”

Festive had a huge impact on Burberry’s social channels, with 1.7 million views on YouTube, and 1.8 million views on Instagram. This demonstrates how a heritage brand such as Burberry can still feel contemporary and surprising, all the while avoiding the trap of cheesy Christmas ads and instead offering two minutes of pure joy. 

Categories: Commercials, Advertising Craft (Directing, VFX); Entered by: Riff Raff Films; MPC

Client: Burberry
CCO: Ricardo Tisci
Chief Marketing Officer: Rod Manley
VP Creative: Rachel Crowther
Art Directors: Al Watts, Sean Bell
Director of Production: Rose Percy
Senior Producer: Asha Joneja
Producer: Cara Gillies
Production Coordinator: Rebecca Haddaway
Post Production Senior Manager: Luke Stazaker
Styling Editor: Susie Miller
Junior Styling Editor: Fran Dyke
Assistant Stylist: Jack Clements
Agency: Riff Raff Films
Creative Directors: Megaforce
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Executive Producer: Matthew Fone
Producer: Nick Goldsmith
Production Managers: Hannah Fowles-Pazdro, Georgia Mills
Choreographer: (LA) Horde
1st Assistant Director: Ben Gill
DOP: Katelin Arizmendi

Stylist: Ib Kamara, Lucy Fewell
Production Designer: Marco Puig
Edit House: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
Post Production: MPC
Sound Design: Sam Ashwell, 750mph
SFX: Paul Mann, Neil Gawthrop
Gaffer: Richard Oxley

Dancers: Zhane Samuels, Kevin Bago, Robinson Cassarino, Chantel Foo
Song: Singin’ In The Rain
Writers: Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed
Publisher: EMI Music Publishing
Vocals: Dreya Mac
Produced & Arranged: Lank and Tank, Twenty Below Music
Music Producer: Emily Pritchard, Twenty Below Music
Post Production: MPC London & Bangalore
London Team:
VFX Producer: Ryan Hancocks
2D Lead: Alex Lovejoy
3D Leads: Fabian Frank, Rob Richardson
Colourist: Matthieu Toullet
3D Artists: Miquel Corominas, Ronald Anzenberger, Alican Gorgec, Gareth Bell, Hodei Garcia, Stephane Ranaldi, Alessandro Granella, Flavia Minone, Mike Little, Lewis Orton, Radu Ciubotariu
2D Artists: David Filipe, Mithun Alex, Lucie Brant
Bangalore Team:
Producer: Abhinav Sharda
Senior Production Coordinator: Sakshi Gaur
CG Supervisor: Parthiban S E
2D Supervisor: David Rouxal
Matchmove Supervisor: Elangovan Ganesh
Asset Supervisor: Kunal Sarkar
Asset: Jaspreet Kaur Dua
2D Comp: Amresh Kumar
Roto Artists: Vipin Tripathi, Aginesh K M, Karthikeyan M D, Pramod Dwivedi, Arulnandhan P, Bijeesh K U, Kiran Veerswarapu, Padmapriya K, Sangeetha M, Sreejimol C P, Jaswan Vishnu Prasanth, Suresh Pitchuka, Rajnikant R, Shawn Shaiju, Karthik S, Manideep Sanisetty
FX: Alok Dwivedi, Parts Bisen
Lighting: Earnest Victor Mauel, Arun Sharma