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McDonald's and Heathrow bring the playful and emotional Christmas Cheer

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The Christmas campaign continue to fly in thick and fast, with the last few days seeing the launch of two more notable festive spots, each of which approach the season from a similar angle. They go to show just how much ground there is to cover when it comes to Christmas. There's no need to stick to well-worn sentiment, cheesy sing-alongs and a torrent of presents when you've got a solid concept and some great talent. Enter Havas London, who appear to have done the unthinkable; created a genuinely heartwarming and original campaign for an airport. Whilst Heathrow Airport might be in the midst of a smidgen of controversy right now, the brand is obviously on fine form creatively, given the charming spot that debuted last week. This marks the first time the London airport has launched a video spot for the season, and it's going to prove hard to top if it becomes an annual tradition. The poignant film reminds us that coming home for Christmas is truly the greatest gift of all, and it manages to do so without coming across as overly twee.

The ad follows ageing teddy bears as they land at Heathrow. “Coming Home” captures tender moments between the couple; from the wife gently waking her sleeping husband in his seat, to his protective arm helping her onto the escalator. As they travel through the airport, the film (set to a classic Chas and Dave soundtrack) captures all the familiar sights and sounds of the UK's hub airport. Finally the elderly bears emerge blinking into arrivals and we see them searching the crowds for someone. The ending is a real tear jerker. If you haven't seen it yourself yet, do yourselves a favour and keep the Kleenex handy. The campaign was created by Havas, with film direction by DOM&NIC through Outsider Productions and animation from The Mill. The piece was filmed over three days while Heathrow was fully operational with location management team, Salt overcoming the complex logistical challenges of filming across multiple terminals, on the airfield and in restricted locations to make the video a reality.

We hope the bears’ journey through the airport captures that excitement you feel when walking through Heathrow arrivals into the arms of your loved ones at Christmas”

On a similar note, the Leo Burnett London Christmas campaign for McDonald’s UK focuses on the good times that can be had by excited families, weary shoppers, and those seeking a pre or post night out fuel stop, but films the action through the eyes of a neglected toy. “Juliette the Doll” aims to celebrate the role of the restaurant chain for millions of people on their various Christmas outings. The campaign, which launched today (November 21), focuses on a vintage wooden doll called Juliette who comes to life after fearing being left on the shelf for another year. Looking forlornly across the street from her toyshop, she yearns to be a part of the busy street outside and the restaurant directly across from her, where a whole host of people from all walks of life are enjoying good times as Christmas draws near. As the shopkeeper turns the pages on his wall calendar, from the 16th through to the 24th December, she looks longingly out of the window and seems destined to spend another Christmas all alone. But then, as the clock strikes 5pm on Christmas Eve, she makes an unexpected bid for freedom, (a conveniently placed McDonald's restaurant across the road), where she joins in the festive frivolities with potential love interest “Meteor Mike.”

The film was created with the help of 3D printing, puppeteering from the model makers at Artem and computer generated effects (CGI) from MPC, with all of the doll’s facial details painstakingly painted by hand. It's this attention to detail that really helps it stand above some of the more run-of-the-mill festive spots we've seen churned out of ad land in the past few weeks. I'll still sat that, personally, my favourite Christmas spot of 2016 thus far is the Waitrose “Robin” spot, but these two subtly different, but equally engaging piece of advertising show that there is still life in the season yet. And there better be, it's not even December yet!

People may not associate McDonald's with Christmas, but millions of people from all walks of life pass through the doors in the festive period; rich, poor, old and young”

Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK.

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