Boots has opted for big name talent and a glitzy, uplifting theme in its U.K. Christmas ad this year, as the Walgreens Boots Alliance retailer aims for a more upmarket feel in its first holiday ad with WPP's The Pharm.
Jenna Coleman, the "Doctor Who" and "Victoria" actor, makes her first-ever commercial appearance as the star of the campaign, while Hollywood director Tom Hooper takes the helm. Hooper, who's repped out of Smuggler for commercials, is best known for his work on "The King's Speech," "Les Miserables" as well as previous Christmas campaigns for the likes of Marks & Spencer. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman and production design by BAFTA-award winning Eve Stewart.
The story sees Coleman's character, Joy, receive a special gift bag from her grandmother, with the message, "This is what Christmas feels like." It turns out to be a magical, seemingly bottomless supply of presents. We see Joy connecting with friends and family, while the bag supplies the perfect gifts at the perfect time. (Humans aren't the only recipients; we see her even putting a pair of false eyelashes on a snowman.) Finally, Joy gives her grandmother a scent bottle, with the gift tag that says, "This is what love smells like."
The ad was created by the Pharm, the WPP unit dedicated to Walgreens Boots Alliance, run out of WPP's VMLY&R London. "With so many people unable to spend the holidays with their loved ones last year, we wanted to encapsulate the pure joy that people will feel this year as we reclaim lost time," said Laurent Simon, chief creative officer at VMLY&R London, in a statement.
"We came into this Christmas with quite a big ambition to show that Boots has all the products you need this Christmas, but in an epic, cinematic powerful way," said Pete Markey, chief marketing officer at Boots, speaking to Ad Age at the launch event. He added that the campaign is the biggest Boots Christmas effort "for at least four or five years."
The ad debuts as a three-minute online film and will be followed by 60- and 30-second edits on TV. The campaign also spans more channels than before, including running across social media and shoppable TV. In a pilot deal with Sky Media that the company says is a media first, the effort will feature shoppable QR codes driving viewers to Boots.com. There will also be digital, radio, out-of-home, print and social ads. "We're merging the best of traditional advertising with the best and latest in data-driven activity," said Markey.
Boots has also made sure that the myriad products featured in the ad won't be affected by any supply chain issues. "Right from the start, we checked to make sure that the products featured in the ad are OK and we have enough stock," said Markey. "So we are confident that we are well enough placed to cover Christmas."