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By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

November 2, 2023 | 6 min read

The retailer has reworked Tears for Fears classic Everybody Wants to Rule the World for the festive spot.

Sports Direct is the latest brand to release its Christmas ad and, similar to last year, there’s a whole host of recognizable faces making an appearance, but it’s the positive message behind the campaign that the Fraser Group-owned brand wants people to remember.

“It has been a tough year for everybody,” says chief marketing officer Beckie Stanion. “We wanted to deliver a message that was really uplifting and doesn’t actually cost anybody anything. It’s really around inspiring kids and adults to dream at Christmas.”

With the ongoing cost of living crisis plus the suffering seen in so many places across the world right now, Sports Direct felt this message aligned with its brand values of ‘championing the legend in everyone.’

One of the famous faces in the spot is Manchester United midfielder Mason Mount, who features alongside ‘Little Legend Macy’ whose Christmas wish is to become the best sports star in the world.

As well as Mount, who has now worked with the brand for four years in a row, Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp, Aaron Ramsdale, Eberechi Eze, James Maddison, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Jesus, Johnny Fisher, Conor Benn and Zarnel Hughes also feature throughout the film.

“Hand on heart, working with the talent is brilliant,” continues Stanion. “They’re sports stars, not actors, but they bring that sporting mentality, they are team players there to get the job done, to do it to the best of their abilities and they just kind of land it quickly.”

The marketer confesses that it is tricky to manage so many people’s schedules, though, saying it could be a bit of a headache. Between match fixtures, training schedules, plus the fact that the players don’t get released until a couple of weeks before the shoot date, it’s a lot to manage. For Stanion, though, it was all worth it in the end.

She and the team start working on Christmas in May. A brief gets put out and then pitches usually come back around the end of June. On the day, the creatives will do a full campaign shoot and not just the TV ad, as they have the talent for a limited amount of time. “There’s a lot to capture. We have three sets that they go round, so there’s a lot going on. It’s a production nightmare but one that we seem to pull off every year.”

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Behind the camera this year was Fred Again’s creative director, Loose, through Stink Productions. Having a woman direct the spot was important and something Stanion is proud of, saying she brought a different energy to the set, to the team and to the final execution. Mox London was the ad agency behind the creative and Seb Barros the photographer.

“Matt, the founder and creative director of Mox London, and I seem to have some sort of weird, telepathic link where we just get one another,” smiles Stanion. “It’s really, really good. That doesn’t happen that often.”

With the visuals, the team wanted to lean into some 90s nostalgia. People who remember the Now, That’s What I Call Music albums will be quick to spot a cheeky reference. “People are looking for a bit of light relief. I don’t think Christmas is the time to remind people that there is a lot of doom and gloom going on.”

Something that was super important was creating an earworm to coincide with the video. “We wanted to create that light-hearted moment, a singalong and that feeling of nostalgia,” she says of its feelgood factor. “I’m always really keen that people leave with a smile on their face at the end of it. It’s not about being slapstick or comical. It’s just about going, ‘OK, that’s nice and I didn’t necessarily expect that from Sports Direct.’”

Looking to 2024, she says it’s going to be a huge year for the brand. There’s the Euros and the Olympics, both of which it will be ”showing up for,” with Stanion adding that she feels the brand can ”authentically” talk about sports.

“We like to create ongoing relationships with sports stars on their sporting journeys and how we can bring that to life. It was lovely, Mason Mount was on set and he gave us all a hug when he left said, ‘It’s so nice to be on set with people that feel like family.’ It’s a testament to the amount of work that we’ve done with him already.”

Watch all of this year’s Christmas ads so far here.

Creative Creative Works Christmas

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