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By Jeremy Lee, columnist

November 23, 2015 | 4 min read

There’s something quite surprising about the ‘Giant Crumpet Show’ campaign for Warburtons from WCRS.

WCRS and Warburtons steal Christmas with the giant crumpet show

It’s not that it features the Muppets – they have become a promiscuously licenced property to the advertising industry (in recent years they have featured in ads for brands including Lipton Ice, Three, Apple TV, Audi, Subway, Cravendale, Orange, Sky, Renault Clio and the list goes on…).

Nor is it the fact that the Warburtons chairman Jonathan Warburton makes a cameo appearance in it – history has shown that he has a peculiar, almost Hitchcockian, desire to appear in its ads.

No, it’s the fact that it’s something that’s so joyful in a season where in recent years the default advertising position – thanks to John Lewis – has been sentimentality that has started to border on the mawkish.

It’s not John Lewis’ or Adam&EveDDB’s fault that the recipe that they created has been so successful both creatively and commercially that every other agency or client without an idea of its own has sought to steal its successful formula. Indeed praise is due to Adam&EveDDB for producing a distinctive genre of its own – however its ubiquity means that it has now become indistinct. Like all good things, maybe it’s time for it to come to an end – and the genre can be despatched to the Man on the Moon.

For WCRS (and Warburtons) the ‘Giant Crumpet Show’ is a creative and strategic triumph, which was cleverly teed up with a series of teaser films, and fits very neatly with the family positioning of the bakery by bringing that old Christmas staple – The Muppet Show – back to the screens.

It also goes some way to answering the agency’s critics who say that its creative reputation – the “missing type” campaign for NHS Blood and a few Royal Navy spots aside – is still a work in progress. The agency’s executive creative directors Billy Faithfull and Ross Neil are entitled to walk a little taller for bringing something new to Christmas advertising. Maybe this will become the new Christmas battleground.

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO also seem to have noticed that the emotional bandwagon is finally moving out of town and it’s decision to opt for a more heart warming tale with the resurrection of Judith Kerr’s Mog the cat.

The story of the resurrection is as key a part of Christian theology as Christmas itself. It’s also equally unlikely to be marked in any Odeon, Cineworld or Vue cinemas following the decision by Digital Cinema Media to ban a Christmas ad for the Church of England on the basis that it treats all “political and religious beliefs equally”, and that equality means it ignores them.

While it’s difficult not to feel some sympathy with the cinema sales house in deciding to eschew what is becoming an increasingly delicate area, you can’t help feeling that the whole issue was incredibly badly handled by DCM. If reports are correct and DCM had already taken bookings for the ad before suddenly acquiring a moral dimension that prompted it to perform this volte-face, then it looks a bit amateurish.

While the Church of England claims to be “disappointed and bewildered” by the decision, some comfort can surely be had in that it has now got a wider public exposure for the campaign than if it had run. For people of faith, and those with none, this will have at least jogged their memories to the original meaning of Christmas beyond the Muppets, Mog and the Man on the Moon.

the Giant Crumpet Show Warburtons the Muppets

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