Reimagining Christmas is a new initiative from Pinterest and The Dots, giving hard-hit freelancers and furloughed creatives a paid opportunity to put a fresh twist on one of the annual advertising milestones – the Christmas ad – and give us all some much-needed festive positivity in the age of COVID.
Reinventing what festive campaigns can be like through the lens of top brands including MADE.com, Birds Eye, British Airways and Sony Music, the final five concepts have been revealed. These were chosen by a panel of senior creatives from top agencies including Leo Burnett, Grey London, AMV BBDO, adam&eveDDB and theSOwhiteproject.
Read on to discover the stories behind them…
Hide and Seek: Annlin Chao, for MADE.com
“2020 is definitely a strange year,” reflects Taipei-born RCA graduate Annlin Chao, who has worked as an independent film and animation director since 2017 with clients including Channel 4, Twinings and the National Palace Museum Taiwan.
While many live-action productions have been put on hold, however, she points out that animation can still thrive in remote-working conditions. Having that second string to her bow has proved invaluable in a tough climate.
Chao drew on her own childhood for her Reimagining Christmas concept. “I believed deeply in the mysterious bearded man who flew through the sky to bring us gifts and happiness,” she recalls. “But the magic was gone when one year I accidentally found my presents at the bottom of my parents’ wardrobe.”
Annlin’s heartwarming concept brought a fresh and unexpected perspective to our brand. It captured the excitement of being at home in the run-up to Christmas
While she felt only disappointment at the time, looking back Chao reflects fondly how much effort her parents put in each year, and how it was their love that provided the magic. She chose the brand that best fitted that sentiment: “MADE.com delivers inspiring designs that are also warm and gorgeous,” she explains. “It’s the spirit of Christmas, as I wanted to tell it.”
Pinterest’s video ad format offered the perfect opportunity to tell a compelling story, and Chao developed a series of storyboards based on ‘hide and seek’ stories. Parents try to keep their children’s gifts a secret, with MADE.com furniture serving as ideal hiding places.
“Annlin’s heartwarming concept brought a fresh and unexpected perspective to our brand,” says Ray Murphy, Head of Content at MADE.com. “It captured the excitement of being at home in the run-up to Christmas, and the lengths parents go to in order to surprise their children.”
“Christmas is about love and reunion, which we eagerly need in 2020,” Chao concludes. “I don’t think I can go back to Taiwan this year, and I miss my family more than ever. I’ve tried to capture some of that love in my campaign.”
The One That Got Away: Anna Wanczyk & Eleanor Calsy-Harrison, for Birds Eye
Both recently freelance, Anna Wanczyk and Eleanor Calsy-Harrison first met at Leeds-based design studio Magpie, where Wanczyk was head of design.
Calsy-Harrison took voluntary redundancy in the summer, which she found “both liberating and terrifying” without a safety net. Having made the leap less than a year earlier, Wanczyk didn’t qualify for any government support – so a steady stream of work was essential.
Although they hadn’t worked together since Magpie, the duo teamed up after spotting Reimagining Christmas on The Dots. “It was great to immerse ourselves in something positive for a couple of days,” says Wanczyk.
It’s far from certain what Christmas will look like as cases continue to surge, so for their Birds Eye concept the duo sought an idea that could work in any scenario. “There’s always going to be that pesky pea that manages to escape your plate, and that need to get away is something we can definitely relate to,” she smiles.
After researching festive content on Pinterest, including popular Christmas searches, they developed a bold, cut-out style that could stand apart from it all. “It’s not got the usual Christmas feel,” admits Calsy-Harrison. “But it’s not your usual Christmas.”
In the face of likely restrictions preventing large family groups coming together for Christmas dinner, the campaign captures the playful spirit of the season through Pinterest’s standard video ads and static Pins, although there are rich opportunities for the idea to expand across maximum-width video and carousel formats too.
“When browsing Pinterest for Christmas inspiration, you’ll find ‘Peter the Pea’ in all sorts of festive scenarios: nestled in a box of baubles, peeking from the mistletoe or rolling out from grandad’s new slippers,” concludes Wanczyk.
#NeverTooOldForChristmas: Alanna Proctor, for Sony Music
Alanna Proctor has been passionate about photography from a young age. While studying Fine Art she fell in love with the 35mm format, influenced by photographers Ryan McGinley, William Eggleston and Olivia Bee. “I was enchanted by how they captured their life in such a pure way, whilst portraying this beautiful dream state,” she says.
When Proctor saw Sony Music was participating in Reimagining Christmas, she leapt at the chance to combine 35mm photography with her other deep-rooted passion: music. “Both can capture moments and memories, and I wanted to explore tying them together with Christmas,” she says.
Inspired by her grandfather – who has spent most of the pandemic alone, reminiscing over his favourite songs and memories – Proctor found her solution: a series of 35mm photos documenting a family at Christmas, listening to music in their own way, sparking emotions about the past, present and future.
“My campaign feels like a family photo album,evoking those warm, cosy, and feel-good feelings that we experience when spending afternoons with family, around the Christmas tree,” she continues. Using Pinterest’s carousel format, people can flick through the images and be inspired to head over to the playlist and start making their own memories.
Paper Planes: Laura Fluture & Carina Toma, for British Airways
Carina Toma started as a planner, then a copywriter, and finally group creative director at Romanian agency Kubis. She teamed up with art director Laura Fluture to tackle a Reimagining Christmas brief for British Airways.
Bringing an airline front of mind at a time when overseas travel has been pared back to the minimum proved a challenge. “The trick is to make people think of planes even if they’re not travelling,” adds Fluture.
“Before writing down the idea, we brainstormed on what our headline would sound like,” she recalls. “We found the perfect one: ‘Planes fly. So do wishes. Make sure they have a destination.’ From there, everything made sense.”
“The perfect Christmas present says how you feel about someone,” continues Toma. “And the most common present is the Christmas card, which can literally say a lot.”
The solution: Paper Planes by British Airways, a way of encouraging people to reinvent their Christmas cards as paper planes, with their loved ones as their destinations. Contextual placement of video and carousel ads on Pinterest brought the concept to life.
“Pinterest is a platform about planning your future. Our idea is about planning something that you can do with your own hands for the following Christmas,” explains Fluture.
“The idea was so simple that it was easy to adapt once we learnt all the Pinterest formats: step-by-step instructions on how to reinvent a card as a paper plane, based on your ‘destination’: mom, dad, bro, sis, lover, BFF and so on,” she adds. “After all these steps, why not recommend a British Airways destination that suits them both?”
It’s All About the Little Things: Andy Poyiadgi, for Birds Eye
As a freelance film and video director who relies on live-action shoots for work, 2020 has been tough for Andy Poyiadgi. “The biggest challenge has been exploring new career possibilities: it’s terrifying, but also a bit exciting.”
When Poyiadgi read a “rousing post” about Reimagining Christmas by The Dots founder Pip Jamieson, it felt like an ideal opportunity.
“I chose Birds Eye Peas because I love peas, and I also think they embody the spirit of what’s important this Christmas: the little things,” he explains. “I loved the freedom of the brief, the chance to craft something, and perhaps to move in a new direction. Oh, and the excuse to eat more peas.”
The humble pea took centre-stage in the campaign. “My initial idea was to portray this Christmas as a downsized affair,” Poyiadgi reveals. “I pitched the idea of heart-warming festive moments featuring peas instead of people.”
His next challenge was creating appropriately festive scenes on such a small scale. “Initially I intended to make tiny sets and furniture. In the end, I opted for real peas (photographed on my dining table) and hand-drawn illustration,” he explains.
Finding the right tone for the captions proved tricky, but Poyiadgi is happy with the final outcome. “I wanted them to have a bit of wit, a bit of warmth, and to hopefully resonate with the audience,” he says. “Pinterest is a place to find inspiration, so hopefully this campaign will inspire not just some heart-warming pea recipes, but also the way we approach this Christmas.”
For more visual inspiration on creating compelling brand stories for Pinterest, check out the Creative Strategy board which celebrates iconic brand campaigns on the platform. Explore all the tools at your disposal for creating on Pinterest with the Creative Agency guide