McDonald's continues its "Reindeer Ready" holiday campaign in the U.K. for the fourth year running, this time with an emotive spot about a girl and her imaginary friend.
The little girl, Matilda, bonds with her lovable monster friend Iggy over the Christmas ritual of leaving out carrots (or McDonald's branded holiday "Reindeer Treats") for Santa's reindeer. Meanwhile, he gives her confidence—for example encouraging her as she performs a holiday show for relatives. As she grows up, her imaginary friend fades away, but then she's reminded him of again by a little kid at McDonald's waving a carrot at an imaginary creature. She rediscovers him hiding in her closet (there's some kind of Freudian metaphor there) and the film ends with her putting out carrots again for the family.
While it's not the first time we've seen imaginary friends in Christmas ads (notably John Lewis's Monty the Penguin and Moz the Monster, who bears a passing resemblance to Iggy), thanks to nice performances and a well-chosen music track, a cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," by Mabel, the spot is suitably heart-tugging. The directors are Bert & Bertie of Object and Animal.
The soundtrack is available for download, with 10 pence from each sale going to McDonald’s charity partner, FareShare. As part of this partnership McDonald’s will also be paying for the redistribution of food for the equivalent of five million meals to families in need.
Leo Burnett also developed an augmented reality experience for parents to capture the moment a reindeer enters their home and eats the “Reindeer Treats” left out by their children, giving them a video to share with their children on Christmas morning. There will also be a 25-day countdown advent calendar for families to use, offering daily content like “How to” crafting videos, colouring sheets, games and more.
“We’re lucky in this industry to be encouraged to be childlike and live in our imaginations," said Chaka Sobhani, global chief creative officer, Leo Burnett, in a statement. "But for most people, as we grow up, the pressures of life can mean we often forget how to remember those things that made us dream and believe. Luckily, small but meaningful rituals—like leaving carrot sticks out for the reindeer—can sometimes be all it takes to reignite that festive belief."
Meanwhile, for those who want a different take on imaginary friends set to Cyndi Lauper covers, see Dutch e-retailer Bol.com's brilliant twist on the holiday ad here.