This year's Christmas spot from McDonald's in Germany doesn't start out as the heartwarming holiday fare we might expect.
The film opens on a woman looking desperate, screaming out someone's name—it could be the start to a horror movie. Then we cut to a family rushing through a railway station, in a hurry to board a train to the airport. The daughter is lagging behind as her mom nags her to keep up, when her attention is caught by a busker playing the guitar and singing "Auld Lang Syne."
When the parents reach the train carriage, they suddenly notice their daughter is missing. We're plunged into every parent's worst nightmare as they dash around the station desperately looking for her (including in the McDonald's they just visited). Midway through the frantic search the singing finally stops—and they work out where she is. She's sharing some McDonald's takeout with the busker. The spot ends on a message about caring: "The greatest gift of all is being there for each other."
The film, running on TV and in cinemas in Germany as well as online, was directed by TPfilm's Sune Sorensen for agency Leo’s Thjnk Tank. It was shot in Budapest and "Auld Lang Syne" was re-recorded by musician Eve Polycarpou, who was cast as the busker in the film as well.
“I absolutely love the traditional Christmas spots with their heartfelt stories, and I do believe we have an equally heartwarming message in our film, but I personally tend to prefer more dramatic Christmas movies, like 'It’s a Wonderful Life,' because they impact me more," said Sorensen. "Albeit atypical for a TVC—not least during Christmas—I felt we have space for drama in this type of advertising too."