Creative graduates behind Very’s Christmas advert

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Date: 13th Dec 2019

A pair of Buckinghamshire New University graduates are the brains behind online retailer Very.co.uk’s animated advert about a lonely man getting the best Christmas ever.

The heartwarming festive campaign follows the residents of Chester Street as they rally around an elderly neighbour, Sidney, to make sure he isn’t alone on Christmas Day.

Joanne Boyle and Hannah Talbut, who graduated in BA (Hons) Advertising: Creative in 2013, of independent creative agency St Luke’s, had the initial idea, and said they had been so engrossed in it throughout 2019 it had been ‘like Christmas every day’.

Very 1
They said: “It’s a hard time of year to grab any kind of attention, especially with the likes of John Lewis continually knocking Christmas out of the park, so we’re very pleased that our ad has emotionally resonated with people across the country.

“We hope it will encourage people to consider reaching out to those in their community who may be alone this Christmas.

“Plus, it’s nice when something you do gets spoken about outside of the advertising world - it means your parents finally understand what you do for a living!”

Speaking about how the Very.co.uk advert came about, they said: “We worked on the campaign from beginning to end, having come up with the initial idea, briefed the animation company and worked with our design studio to create a fully integrated campaign.

“We also had to think about how the idea could stretch for Very’s promotion and Black Friday campaigns, which involved us writing more scripts and creating all of the print and digital assets, again with the help of the animation company and our design studio.

“The original idea sparked from a thought starter in the brief we were given. We were encouraged to consider what the UK might be like in a post-Brexit world (sorry for saying the B-word).

“This led us to think about how even though communities have been divided by politics, they can always be reconnected through love and goodwill.

Joanne Boyle and Hannah Talbut
"As with all our campaigns for Very.co.uk, the pink box needed to play a pivotal role in the story. So what better way to solve both of these problems than to pass a gift box down a street to surprise someone who may otherwise be facing Christmas alone?

“We only had 40 seconds to work with and needed to make sure we were economical with time. We worked with AAO, an amazing animation company in Sweden, to tell our story in the most effective way possible.

“In the initial stages, they created storyboards and animatics, and we would feedback to ensure it was telling the story in the way we intended.

“Then we had to really focus on the finer details, creating a brief of what we envisioned for each character, their wardrobe and even their house!  

“We also had to think about what music would help add emotion to the story. We thought it would be a brilliant opportunity to bring our message of community to life even more.

“So we found a community choir, and chose a modern song that they could bring a whole new meaning to. We then filmed the whole recording process to share their incredible story.”

Very Christmas ad
The advert has received plaudits after video and tech company Unruly named it the most likely to move watchers.

It finished top after 40 per cent of watchers had a strong emotional response to the ad, twice as intense as the UK norm.

The animated video was also four times more heart-warming, three times more likely to make people happy and twice as sad as the average ad.

That put it just ahead of John Lewis and Waitrose’s Excitable Edgar, which left 38 per cent of viewers feeling very emotional.

BA (Hons) Graphic Design and Advertising graduate Simon Lloyd, Global Creative Director at advertising agency adamandeveDBB, is a creative on the advert.

Jo and Hannah teamed up at the end of their first year at Bucks. They have worked at St Luke’s for three years, after being hired thanks to a recommendation by a senior team they had worked with on their first job.

“We think this just goes to show that working hard and getting on with those around you really pays off,” they said.

Very Christmas ad
The pair started out on the digital side of advertising, first working for MullenLowe Profero, and then Havas helia.

They added: “Bucks was very good at introducing you to industry! One of our first briefs was to head into London and track down Bucks’ graduates.

“Throughout the three years we went into a number of different agencies, met the Creative Directors and worked on live briefs. This really gave us an idea of the kind of agencies we wanted to be at.

We also did two placements, also with the help of Bucks graduates, which were organised for us by the course leaders - and funnily enough we regularly hang out and go on holiday with two of the mentors that we worked with on our first placement at the agency Razorfish!”

Julie Wright, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Creative Advertising, said: “Congratulations to Jo and Hannah for the very, very, very good work with Very.co.uk.

"Their success is once again testament to the quality of teaching we provide at Bucks and the opportunities students enjoy to link with industry and make contacts which they benefit from after graduating.”

Very.co.uk Christmas ad

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