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Family is the greatest gift of all in 2022 Heathrow Christmas ad | #BehindTheIdea

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Heathrow Airport’s Christmas brand ad for 2022 is a typically heart-warming story about that special feeling of being with your loved ones over the festive season. The first work with St. Luke’s as lead strategic creative agency, the campaign is led by a feel-good 60 second spot called “The Gift” featuring a couple in the departure lounge of Terminal 2, drinking champagne to toast their imminent festive getaway - just the two of them.

However, the mum seems sad that the pair will be spending Christmas without their kids for the first time - especially when she spies a family with children laughing excitedly in the airport terminal ahead of their flight. Of course, there’s a tear-inducing twist but watch it for yourself below and let that cosy warm feeling wash over you.

To learn more, we spoke to the production and creative teams at St Luke’s and Heathrow to go behind the idea.

What was the brief?

Capitalising on the sudden peak in travel demand following the pandemic, Heathrow wanted to highlight the wonders and excitement of travelling away, from the UK’s most connected airport.

More importantly, we wanted to put Heathrow at the centre stage of what Christmas is all about: the special feeling of being together at Christmas. Unlike most airport advertising which focuses on reunions, we celebrated the joy of departures and how Heathrow’s superior service and travel experience sets the tone for a brilliant trip ahead.

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

The majority of happy emotions in airports tend to be reunions. When people meet up again, after a trip away, be it long or short. We thought long and hard to find a positive emotional story set in the airport before departure to bring to life the pitch winning line ‘Depart as you mean to go on’.

What was the process behind ideating the concept?

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Once we’d arrived at ‘Depart as you mean to go on’ – a powerful idea that reframes the airport as the opening chapter of the journey ahead – the campaign came easily. This was all about celebrating the joy of departures being in the connections we make and setting the tone for the special memories are to come.

What was the production process like?

Getting to grips with shooting in a working airport and understanding everything that that entailed was a big part of the production process. Our Head of TV, Chloe London, Spindle (the production company) and our wonderful Director, Molly Burdett, were amazing at working around the challenges that an airport full of thousands of people presented.

What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?

Timing was a key challenge. Having won the account August, we agreed creative development and we delivered everything in early November; and for a campaign of this size that was no mean feat!

Added to this was the challenge of shooting in one of the busiest airports in the world and the security requirements that come with that. We overcame both things with a tenacious production department and incredibly responsive and collaborative clients.

What kit/tools/software were used to create the project?

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The TV spot was shot on film to ensure the warmth of the script really came through in the final film’s atmosphere.

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?

The funniest moments were as a result of working in a busy airport and ensuring passengers could move freely around the airport. With unsuspecting holidaymakers wondering into shot at times, we needed to ensure careful planning to coordinate flight and shoot schedules.

In one particular shot, we had an allocated gate to shoot the final family scene, only to get there and find a famous franchise branded plane in the background.  Keeping this in shot would have involved numerous approvals, so instead we had to relocate, racing across the airport in a matter of minutes to a different gate, carrying all the equipment with us, to capture a different plane within 10 minutes!

What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?

At a time when we’re all travelling more mindfully, we need to make sure every journey really counts and that means departing as you mean to go on.

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

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Three months. We won the pitch in August and delivered the final film on 7th November so it was a tight turn around for a campaign of this size.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

We want people to not only choose Heathrow as the best place to travel from and to set the tone for their journey ahead, but be genuinely excited for the experience they have to look forward to. 

Credit list for the work?

Head of Marketing and Customer Engagement - Meenal Varsani

Marketing Campaign Manager - Nathan Charles

Marketing Campaign Manager - Sandra Clement

Executive Creative Director - Rich Denney

Creatives - Darren Keff & Phill Meyler

Agency TV Producer - Chloe London

Agency Creative Producers - Ed Howkins, Anna-Marie

Chief Strategy Officer - Dan Hulse

Planning Director - Emma Banks

Business Director - Leanne Silman

Account Director - Lucy Yeates

Senior Account Manager - Charlotte Crawley

Photographer - Dan Ross

Director - Molly Burdett

Production Co - Spindle Films

Executive Producer - Lou Gagen

Production Co Producer - Swifty Hanrahan

DoP - Adric Watson

Art Director - Joe Withers

Editor - Billy Mead @ tenthree

Post Production - Framestore

Post Producer - Semley Wilkinson

VFX Lead - Judy Roberts

Grade - Simon Bourne @ Company3

Sound Design - Ben Leeves @ Jungle Studios

Music Composition - Eclectic Music

Media Planning & Buying - Wavemaker

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