Which big name brand has 2017’s best Christmas advert?

Which big name brand has 2017’s best Christmas advert?

We’re a festive bunch here at Jigsaw24. When November rolled round, our creative team only had one thing on their collective mind – 2017’s Christmas adverts. With top brands such as John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and others pumping out some absolute classics in recent years, we were waiting with bated breath to see what they had in store for us this year. 

Once every big Christmas advert had been released, we gathered our team together to watch each one and create a definitive ranked list of our favourites. With monsters under the bed, talking bears, magical factories, snowmen and snowdogs, there was a lot of ground to cover – but it was a challenge our cynical bunch were more than willing to take up (stick with us though, we get more twinkly as the list goes on). So, without further ado…

12. Sainsbury’s ‘#everybitofChristmas’

Having been spoilt with big budget productions over the past few years (who could forget Mog?), we were expecting something special from Sainsbury’s, and this year’s effort seems like a bit of an afterthought by comparison. Carrying on their ‘living well’ campaign from the rest of 2017, they partnered up with rapper and actor Doc Brown to write a song titled Every Bit Of Christmas and set about finding people to sing the tune…

The team’s thoughts

“The best bit about it is the fact that they are talking/singing about Christmas problems and memories etc that most people have. But I’m not that keen on it being black and white, and I’m not a massive fan of the tune.”

“I think going against the ‘expensive Christmas ad’ is a good idea, but it’s a shame that Tesco did it better. And tying it into their existing campaign and branding rather than having a very separate Christmas look is fine, but I’ve not seen much of that campaign unfortunately.”

11. Barbour ‘The Snowman and The Snowdog’

Using beloved stories and characters to sell stuff is always a risky business. People can get very angry if it doesn’t turn out well. And that’s what Barbour (who partnered up with Snowman Enterprises and Penguin Ventures) were up against this year when they took two Christmas favourites – The Snowman and The Snowdog – and created the “next chapter” of their story…

The team’s thoughts

“Animation of already popular franchises seems to be a bit of a craze this year. And with The Snowman being a classic Christmas film, it does conjure up fond childhood memories. Although, I’m not sure how I feel about giving the snowman a coat which will melt him…”

“This is a travesty. Firstly, the Snowman dies in the Snowman. That is the entire point of the story. That is why it’s been making people cry for 25 years. Reviving him robs any emotional impact, and by giving him an ill-fitting jacket the man is actually speeding his friend to a second heat-induced death. Not cool.”

“It’s alright I guess. Always nice to see the big guy.”

10. Aldi ‘Kevin The Carrot 2017′

Aldi brought back their sentient carrot – Kevin – this Christmas for their vegetable-themed take on Murder on the Orient Express. Love-struck and determined to meet his future carrot companion, he ventures across the dinner table. But before he can make it all the way there, he has to risk his life to save the girl of his dreams. Watch Kevin in action…

The team’s thoughts

“It’s ok. I like the narration, Christmas music and setting, that all works for me. Also like that they are showcasing the product. But I just can’t get too warm and fuzzy about carrots.”

“Not keen on veggies talking about wetting themselves on the Christmas dinner table. Overall a bit weird, nowhere near as good as Kevin’s 2016 adventure.”

“Kevin the carrot is cute, I can see why he’s back again, but it didn’t make much of an impression on me story wise.”

9. TalkTalk ‘This is Christmas’

Teaming up with creators CHI & Partners, TalkTalk made Christmas simple this year. They made it so simple in fact that it looks exactly like every British Christmas ever. The ad is actually completely unscripted and was shot during Christmas Day 2016. It follows the TalkTalk Family (of Gogglebox fame) as they go about their festive celebrations, and features Christmassy scenes that you’d expect to see in every house throughout the country – and that’s what makes it work…

The team’s thoughts

“I think this suffers because I don’t know about the TalkTalk family, but it’s probably my second favourite after the Tesco ad. What can I say, I like my Christmas ads pseudo-realistic.”

“I liked the concept and the fact that they haven’t spent loads on it but I felt too detached from the characters, nothing quite interesting enough in it for me.”

“Another very simple one about a British family Christmas, I really enjoyed it because a lot of it was recognisable.”

8. Very ‘Get More Out of Giving’

Using the same theme, characters and glowing pink presents as last year, Very went down the animation route once again. When a little girl goes to sleep on Christmas Eve, she dreams of delivering the final present on her ‘giving list’. To help her along the way, she’s joined by her toy-wolf-turned-real-wolf – but when she loses the gift, her companion disappears over a waterfall. Luckily, Santa appears to save the day. She wakes to find a bight pink present on the windowsill containing her wolf and giving list, with Santa’s name crossed out at the bottom. All in all, a nice enough advert with a nice Christmas message, but I’m sure ‘man infiltrating the dream’s of children and influencing the real world’ is the plot of something else…

The team’s thoughts

“Nice message however I felt the ad went on too long and didn’t really see how it promoted Very.”

“Sweet enough but not quite as heartwarming as it could have been.”

“Not very keen on it stylistically, but the story I thought was stronger than a lot of the others. It definitely stays on my mind more.”

7. Argos ‘#ReadyForTakeOff’

While putting in some seasonal graft at Santa’s workshop (which looks like it’s been outsourced to a futuristic packaging company), one plucky elf notices that a child’s Christmas delivery is missing a gift and about to leave. To save the day, she has to make it through the warehouse to gate nine before it closes and the Rudolf-4 delivery ship takes off. Naturally, she makes it and Argos saves Christmas…

The team’s thoughts

“Promoted their key product and had a very child-like Christmas spirit to it. I’m not too keen on Santa/North Pole being represented as that futuristic, think it takes away from the magic a little. Doesn’t feel quite as heart warming thinking of it as a high tech military operation.”

“I quite like this – they’ve gone for quite a nice telling of a more commercial angle.”

” I like the energy of this and the fact that it’s gone slightly less schmaltzy than other tie-ins.”

6. Asda ‘Best Christmas Ever’

Asda have gone for their version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this year, and unsurprisingly, it’s doesn’t feel very Christmassy. The ad follows a young girl and her grandfather as they explore an Asda factory at Christmas time, and features lots of products, as well as some fun little Christmas/elf-themed scenarios and vibrant colours…

The team’s thoughts

“I do love the colours and style to it so an extra mark for that, but it’s a little forgettable for me story-wise.”

“This raises too many questions about Asda’s recruitment and health and safety policies for me to give it any more than three stars.”

“I think it’s a great campaign. They’ve managed to cram in a wide variety of their products without it having a hard sell.”

5. Apple ‘Sway’

With the tagline ‘Move someone this Christmas’, Apple’s advert uses the brand new iPhone X and AirPods to tell the story of a man and woman who bump into each other in the street and bond over the Sam Smith song ‘Palace’ (each to their own). After the woman hands the man one of her AirPods, they embark on an epic dance routine throughout the city before parting ways as the song draws to an end. It’s all relatively straightforward, and probably one of the nicer commercials this year…

The team’s thoughts

“This is kind of cute. If the song fit the dance a bit better it would have been great.”

“I like this ad from Apple. The fact it’s Sam Smith knocks a couple of points off, though.”

“Enjoyed the advert, but the Sam Smith song doesn’t really give out the Christmassy vibes.”

4. Boots ‘#ShowThemYouKnowThem’

Boots is in at number four. Inkeeping with this year’s family-theme craze, this seasonal effort focusses on the relationship between two sisters (played by real life adult sisters Kathleen McDermott and Karen McGarrity), and how – by recounting childhood memories – one of them figured out which perfume the other wanted for Christmas. Touching stuff…

The team’s thoughts

“I do not have a sister, and would now quite like one for Christmas.”

“Again, I love the song, and it’s a nice sentiment, but the reality is is that’s it’s only perfume, and if it’s anything like my family you’d specifically request what perfume you wanted.”

“Really sweet, could have been a bit more Christmassy but I liked the story. Also – I know that there are vintage Boots products in every scene from the right years, which is clever (even if you don’t notice it until someone points it out).”

3. John Lewis ‘Moz the Monster’

It was the one everybody was waiting for. The granddaddy of all Christmas adverts. There was a lot of anticipation for John Lewis’ commercial this year (people were even uploading ‘leaks’ to YouTube), and with the success of Buster the Boxer in 2016, as well as Man on the Moon and Monty the Penguin before that, they had a lot to live up to. This year’s advert tells the story of a little boy – Joe (played by twin brothers) – who struggles to sleep at night thanks to a large, snoring, farting monster under the bed called Moz (played by two, oxygen-deprived men who do the body movements, while CGI handles the facial expressions). After befriending the big dude, the boy stays up late every night to play with his new pal. When Moz realises the boy is always tired, he gets him a nightlight for Christmas which makes the monster disappear. The young lad’s reprieve is short lived however, as Moz quickly returns once the nightlight is switched off, thus condemning the boy to a lifetime of sleepless hell. Not very Christmassy if you ask me…

The team’s thoughts

“Always great production-wise, top marks here. The story was fairly good but it needs to be more than fairly good – it needs to be exceptional for John Lewis and this was just not at a high enough level emotionally.”

“Love the song, so that gets me on board straight away. I think being a parent here pulls on my heart strings. The relationship between the monster and the cute little boy is heartwarming, and I’m a sucker for an emotional ending. Love it!”

“Not a huge fan of the design of Moz, though having seen the behind the scenes video I have nothing but respect for the poor souls sealed inside.”

2. Marks & Spencer ‘Paddington & The Christmas Visitor’

While number two capitalises on the success of a popular film, it’s still really lovely. Marks & Spencer’s Paddington & The Christmas Visitor takes the much-loved bear and puts him on a Christmas mission to deliver Santa’s presents. The gifts have been stolen by a thief who Paddington mistakes for Father Christmas, and while the criminal is initially frustrated at the bear for returning his ill-gotten gains to their rightful owners, the advert ends with him realising the error of his ways and enjoying a marmalade sandwich. What’s not to love?

The team’s thoughts

“The animation was excellent, the general tone was adorable, and it’s one of the most sensible tie-ins I’ve seen so far.”

“Love this advert, it makes me feel Christmassy with the snowy scenes and the lovely decorations. I also have very fond memories of Paddington Bear back when I was a child, and love the new movies.”

“The burglar wasn’t very convincing and this could get easily lost. Appreciate that it’s appealing to a younger audience and doesn’t want to appear ‘frightening’ though.”

1. Tesco ‘Turkey, Every Which Way’

With many millions of pounds spent on this year’s Christmas adverts, it’s really quite nice that one of the more simplistic, down to earth commercials is the best of them all. In a similar vein to the ads from TalkTalk and Boots, Tesco based theirs on the typical British family Christmas. The advert includes different types of families and scenes that every viewer can relate to – arguments about the food, excited kids, Christmas crackers, wanting ketchup with dinner, people falling asleep and turkey sandwiches – and has a heartwarming, inclusive message to top it off…

The team’s thoughts

“I think this is really strong. Low costs to produce but really captures Christmas, the nostalgia and love the inclusive message about whichever way you do things. It’s all lovely and fuzzy.”

“I am hosting Christmas this year, and watching this advert makes me worry intensely about whether the turkey will fit in my oven.”

“This is what I like, and I think they’ve really hit the nail on some of these situations. The basting argument is my fave.”

“I love the simplicity of this one, and how well it reflects a typical busy British family Christmas. The simple ones definitely won out for me this year.”

“Favourite advert, encompasses true family Christmases and everyone can relate to at least one family portrayed in some way.”

That’s all for this year, folks! Merry Christmas from everyone at Jigsaw24.

If you’d like to find out more about our Christmas opening and delivery times, please visit our delivery page, give us a call on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Bringing Zebedee the zebra to life with Adobe Creative Cloud

Bringing Zebedee the zebra to life with Adobe Creative Cloud

We’ve loved the cracking Christmas ads from Apple, John Lewis, H&M and Sainsbury’s this year, so we decided to join in the fun and create a festive-themed feature of our own. 

Taking some solid inspiration from John Lewis’s popular ‘Buster the Boxer’ campaign, I took to my favourite Adobe Creative Cloud apps to bring our very own trampolining critter to life – Zebedee the zebra! 

Zebedee enjoying a popular zebra pass time – trampolining!
Zebedee enjoying a popular zebra past time – trampolining!

I use Adobe Creative Cloud for all my animation work because it’s easy to use. App integration allows you to switch between programs without worrying about file compatibility or loss of progress, making the transition from design to video nice and simple.

When I began the initial design, I booted up Illustrator and created each scene in 2D, making sure to keep any component I wanted to animate independently on a separate layer. Once I’d finished the 2D design, I imported the layers for each scene into After Effects and enabled them for 3D. From there I added a camera and lighting, providing some depth to the artwork.

Zebedee makes a friend...
Zebedee makes a friend…

Adobe’s neat animation tools allowed me to fine tune the basics of the design, animating the camera and other moving parts, including clouds and the hedgehog. I did this using basic layer variables like position and rotation, and made use of a few expressions when I needed items to loop or react to components from another layer (expressions are a feature of Adobe After Effects, allowing you to create relationships between layer properties, using the keyframes of one property to dynamically animate other layers).

One of the great things about Creative Cloud for animation is that it supports a whole load of different plug-ins. These can be utilised to provide new tools that increase the functionality of your apps, which is great for continued efficiency and productivity, and saves you having to use other design programs entirely. When it came to animating Zebedee the zebra, I made use of After Effects’ puppet tool and a third-party rigging plug-in called DUIK. DUIK allows moving parts to be controlled ‘realistically’, keeping  appendages attached to the appropriate body part – in this case, hooves to legs and legs to body.

"YouTube are gonna love this..."
“YouTube are gonna love this…”

I wasn’t too happy with my first attempt at texturing the snow in the garden using a vector texture brush in Illustrator, and ended up finishing the job with a third-party brush in Photoshop. Thankfully, replacing all the layers in After Effects was quick and easy and didn’t affect any of the animating I’d already done (thanks, app integration!).

Once I’d completed each scene, I imported them all as After Effects compositions into Premiere Pro. From there, I arranged them on the timeline, edited the transitions and added the music. Then I used Media Encoder to export each cut for approval (I exported at a lower resolution until the finished version was fully signed off), which allowed me to continue working with Premiere Pro in the meantime.

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You can check out Zebedee the zebra’s Christmas debut below:

Want to know more about Adobe Creative Cloud? Give us a call on 03332 409 251 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.