25 days of Ausmas: Rem Bruijn, CD, Brainheart on Aldi Australia's Look who's blown in

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.

“The most Aussie Christmas Ad ever”. This statement was presented as a question in an Ad Media publication announcing the launch of Aldi’s second instalment in their ‘The more the merrier’ Christmas campaign last year. I have dispensed with the question mark, because it most definitely is. Without a doubt. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong and needs their head read. That is my unfiltered, non-considered, not open to discussion response at least. Which leaves me just 410 more words to unpack why, with a little more consideration and insight.

Christmas is a funny time in Australia. The physical environment is diametrically at odds with northern hemisphere Christmas traditions.

Yet we still follow them. Roast turkey, roast ham, Christmas pudding, and some poor uncle in a Santa Suit with sweat rivulets down the back of his legs due to the 36-degree heat. All while ‘Walking in a winter wonderland’ plays in the background. Because the core elements of Christmas (family, inclusion, giving, cheer) are beautiful and special and we Australians want that for us too. The fact that these traditions are climatically bizarre, bordering on insane, is not lost on us either.

So we have adapted them slightly to suit our world down under. Fresh prawns on ice, plump cherries, diced mangos, Santa pool ponies; that sort of thing. Not instead of, more on top of everything else. Still, we haven’t had much in the way authentic Australian Christmas stories or imagery. We don’t have a “Love Actually’, nor an “A Miracle on 34th Street”, nor carols. Actually, we do have two beautiful Christmas carols in the guise of popular songs – Paul Kelly’s “How to make gravy” and Tim Minchin’s “White wine in the sun”. I can’t sing either of them without a lump forming in my throat and the eyes misting up. Both are quintessentially Australian in sentiment, in story and in their humanity. Flawed, authentic and beautiful.

To me, Aldi’s “Santa Crashes Christmas’ 90 second advertisement is the third authentic Australian Christmas story to have that effect on me. The same central theme, ‘The joy of coming together at Christmas’, is shared by all three works. But I think what makes ‘Santa Crashes Christmas’ even more special is twofold.

Firstly, it cinematically imbues Christmas with imagery reminiscent of great iconic Australian films. Filmic aspects that remind me of movies like ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ and ‘Mad Max’, a music score with hints of ‘The Man from Snowy River’, combined with modern ethnically-diverse casting, all serves to make this story simultaneously nostalgic and authentically current.

Secondly, it tells the story of Santa being stranded a long, long way from home, exhausted and at the mercy of a land as unforgiving and cruel as it is beautiful; being warmly welcomed by strangers, sharing in their hospitality and pitching in with their work, to create something truly special for all. That is not just the story of an Australian Christmas. It’s the story of Australia itself. The one we want to be true at least.

As a little addendum, seeing the brand line “The More the Merrier’ placed over images of Christmas hams, prawns and puddings on bus shelters across Australia in December, makes me realise that Aldi not only created the most wonderful brand ad, but also a brilliantly effective retail campaign and product strategy which has enabled them to ‘own Christmas’ in Australia.

Rem Bruijn, creative director, Brainheart

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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