Simon Lloyd, the agency's chief creative officer, is a veteran of holiday advertising, having previously worked at Adam&Eve/DDB on several John Lewis campaigns before joining Dentsu a year ago. He told Ad Age that the ad's focus on community rather than on Santa himself, was "something we talked about a lot."
"Coca-Cola is the one brand that really feels like it can use him with real authority. However, when it came down to it, the ‘real’ in ‘Real Magic’ swayed us towards using Santa in a very authentic way: appearing in a cartoon on TV rather than featuring as a character in the film itself, because we wanted it to be clear that the gift was from the community rather than anyone else."
The ad is set to to the tune of the "Mary Poppins" movie's chimney sweep song "Chim Chim Cheree," which Coke licensed from Universal Music, recomposed and re-recorded with a full orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. According to Lloyd, "It was only when we were on set with director Sam Brown, and started playing the song to particular takes from filming, that we started to see its full potential. In the final film, the music doesn’t become recognizable until the ‘idea’ moment, so being so iconic helps with the comprehension of the story."
Filmed in Hungary, the action is meant to take place in a U.S East Coast setting, but the casting is very diverse in order to appeal to a global audience. "We had two simple philosophies; if casting is done well you should not even question it," said Lloyd. "And wherever you are in the world, you should be able to see yourself in this film. It was filmed in Budapest, on an East Coast style set, but could be anywhere. The benefit of shooting this in a ‘block’ gave us all the flexibility we needed to make both of these philosophies happen. We did most of the casting in the U.K., with some extras in Hungary, but crucially we never reviewed cast individually. We always looked at the community as a group, the way the viewer would see it."