Asda x Elf 2

Will Ferrell’s Elf is the star of Asda’s Christmas ad

Footage from the cult Xmas movie is incorporated into an everyday Asda store in the ad, directed by Daniel Kleinman

Created by Havas London, the ad sees Buddy the Elf rock up at an Asda store to take part in a trial work shift in the run up to Christmas.

Many a slapstick moment follows, as Buddy samples the Christmas food, distracts his colleagues and – of course – sings loudly over the store’s tannoy system.

Creating the ad was a feat of craft magic. The agency worked with Framestore in order to seamlessly integrate classic footage into the spot, with the post house initially rotoscoping Buddy out of the original film.

A digital Asda store was then created by LiDAR scanning a real, bricks-and-mortar location, allowing the creative team to scout their locations virtually and relative to Buddy’s existing performance. During filming, at an existing studio set, an on-set body double was used for eyeline reference and to provide nuanced shadows and interactions which could be deftly incorporated into the final composite.

The original and new footage were then brought together, with careful match grading incorporated early in the process to bring the modern world towards the look of the original footage. Grain, chromatic aberration and physical film stock look were also applied to the plates shot on a digital camera. A making-of film is shown below.

“This was a unique challenge,” says Kleinman, “working with an A-list Hollywood actor, without him being there in person, and crafting other actors around his iconic performance. It was important not only to make the action seamless but also convincingly transport him to a Christmas Asda store, creating a Hollywood feel to Asda’s Christmas celebrations.”

The ad marks the first time the Elf has been licensed for brand marketing and the campaign also sees in-store tannoy announcements from Buddy, as well as Asda-exclusive Elf-themed food and clothing.

Creative Agency: Havas London
Chief Creative Officer: Vicki Maguire
Creative Directors: Dan Cole, Andy Garnett
Associate Creative Directors: Rob Greaves, Sam Daly
Senior Art Director: Richard Gorton-Lee (Chunky)
Senior Copywriter: Mark Wilson
Senior Designer: Sam Kallen
Production Company: Rattling Stick
Director: Daniel Kleinman
Post production and VFX: Framestore
Creative Director: Kamen Markov
VFX Supervisor: Jules Janaud