When The Drum asked me to write about a Christmas advert, I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge.
Someone else would likely be gushing about this year’s John Lewis extravaganza. The Argos efforts would probably get a slating from someone else. And Marks and Spencer’s acceptably-sexy party playlist ad would be sure to get a mention.
I’d have to dig deeper.
So I trawled YouTube for some classics from the 70s. It took me back to my own childhood and gave me a few chuckles - but failed to unearth anything decent to write about.
I turned my search to American classic commercials. I found a beauty about a toy cow with a rubber udder that you could actually milk (it’s called Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow - look it up!) but that didn’t seem quite right.
And then - bingo! - I rediscovered something brilliant from my homeland: IRN BRU’s Snowman ad from 2007. My countrymen have apparently voted it the best ad ever made. And I’ve got to say that it’s a serious contender.
Like all of IRN BRU’s great work, it was created by the Leith Agency in Edinburgh. When I started in the industry, that was my dream agency. And 20 years later, it’s still Scotland’s finest ad factory, thanks to their brilliant creative director, Gerry Farrell.
The ad itself is a masterpiece. It’s wonderfully written, beautifully animated and gives you a whistlestop tour of Scotland. It takes the Raymond Briggs Christmas classic and adds the more human characteristics of selfishness and spite. It’s a whole story of friendship, bonding and betrayal crammed into 60 seconds. And the product is at the centre of all the action.
In short, I wish I’d done it.
So I unexpectedly find myself praising a beautifully crafted piece of perfection. Please join me in raising a glass (of non-fluorescent orange liquid) to my fellow Scots.
Dave Birss is the founder of Additive and has nearly 20 years’ experience of marketing communications. Dave presents the ‘Future of Advertising Podcast’ where he regularly interviews some of the biggest names in advertising. Previous roles include digital creative head at OgilvyOne, creative director at POKE, and creative director of MRM Worldwide.
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