25 Days of Ausmas: Gavin McLeod, ECD, Ogilvy Sydney on Sainsbury's Mog’s Christmas Calamity

Every day an advertising creative from Australia and New Zealand will offer their own favourite Christmas campaign from over the years as we celebrate the best work from the festive period the world over and hear their views on what is best in class.

When Sainsbury's debuted its 2015 Christmas TV ad featuring the rambunctious pussycat Mog, I for one was utterly charmed. Mog was already a bit of a favourite in our household having starred in a series of much-loved children’s books by Judith Kerr and a few tears were shed when she died of old age in the last book ‘Goodbye’.

So, it was a lovely surprise to see the mad moggy back and causing havoc again. And, it’s fascinating to look back at the many smart decisions made by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in the development of the campaign.

I love that they set out to make people laugh, not cry. I’m a sucker for overly sentimental Christmas spots (no, that’s not a tear in my eye). But, I also resent having my emotions so easily manipulated by brands. So, kudos for injecting slapstick fun into the often self-serious Christmas ad genre. And, to Sainsbury's for bravely not shying away from advocating not taking responsibility for your actions.

I also love that the campaign was more than just a TV ad. In partnership with Harper Collins, a brand new book was written for parents to share with their children which, alongside a cuddly toy, was available to buy in-store or online with all profits going to Save the Children to help support child literacy.

The ad itself is wildly entertaining, brilliantly directed and comes bundled in with all the childhood associations of Kerr’s book series. Bringing a much loved character like Mog to life can be fraught with danger. Watching the making-of, I was struck by how much consideration the creative team had given to depicting the subtleties of Mog’s emotions. They could have gone big, but resisted and it’s much funnier as a consequence. It’s another reminder that you can never sweat the little details enough.

The music was also an important driver of the story. Rachel Portman, the Oscar-winning composer, created something special here. It’s a wonderful score that adds wit and charm in all the right moments. Having Emma Thompson narrate the story doesn’t hurt things either.

Framestore also deserves a huge shout out, as it took some licenses from the Mog depicted in Kerr’s books, but it really paid off. The computer animated Mog might be a little too different at first look but the cheeky feline quickly wins your heart. Four years later, it still looks brilliant!

Christmas blockbusters have become a thing and there’s always an Ebenezer Scrooge ready to question the ROI. A quick Google search brought up an old effectiveness case study and some fascinating results.

Mog’s Christmas Calamity became the UK’s best-selling book for four weeks in a row.

The cuddly Mog toy sold out in just one week.

Sales rose 2.6%, which meant an additional £36m compared to 2014.

Even better, the campaign raised over £1.6m for Save the Children to support child literacy.

Seems worth it to me!

Gavin McLeod, executive creative director, Ogilvy Sydney

Check out the latest holiday ads from Australia and New Zealand here, and keep an eye on The Drum's ongoing Christmas coverage.

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