The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

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By Michael Abdel

November 24, 2019 | 4 min read

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.

John Lewis the long wait

When asked to nominate a favourite Christmas ad, I quickly realised that many of the great ads that spring to mind are from the UK. It seems as if Christmas is becoming an advertising event there in a similar way to the Superbowl in America. Each year big brands are spending big budgets in an attempt to ‘own’ Christmas. And, happily, many of the ads are terrific. If I had to pick an all-time favourite (which I’m told I have to!) I’d lean towards the 2011 John Lewis ad ‘The Long Wait’.

There are many reasons why I could compliment this ad – I’m a big believer in the power of music and in this ad the music immediately draws you in and starts pulling on the heartstrings. The casting and editing are also terrific, however, perhaps my favourite aspect of the ad is the delightful twist at the end.

In movies, they say the best twists are ones where the movie would still work without the twist – the twist simply takes it to the next level. For example, The Sixth Sense works perfectly well as a creepy story about a kid who can see dead people, but then the twist elevates it to something even more special. I believe the same is true of the twist in this commercial.

In the ad, we see a young boy waiting for Christmas. It’s cute, funny and relatable as we watch the kid wishing that it was Christmas already. It’s nearly impossible not to think back to when you were a kid yourself impatiently waiting for Santa to arrive. If that was where it ended, it would still be a nice ad. However, then we get a brilliant twist.

The boy wakes up excited on Christmas morning, jumps out of bed and runs past all the presents that are waiting for him at the foot of his bed. Instead of opening them as we would expect, he runs to his parents’ room to excitedly give them a present. It’s all executed perfectly, down to the poor gift wrapping the child has done.

It’s a heart-warming ending that reminds you of the true meaning of Christmas: to bring happiness and joy to others. In lesser hands, it could have come across as too cheesy, but here it hits the mark. You’re reminded of the joy of giving and are then presented with the message that John Lewis is the place to go ‘For gifts you can’t wait to give’. It’s not so subtle that you miss the message and not so heavy-handed as to ruin the goodwill created throughout the ad.

All I want for Christmas is to create an ad just as good.

Michael Abdel, founder and executive creative director, The Sphere Agency

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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