And lo the Christmas campaign season trundles ever onwards with what at first promised to be a pretty maudlin little spot from adam&eveDDB for Waitrose; the supermarket chain otherwise known as “The upper class Tesco.” I, and the rest of the internet at large it would appear, was rather taken aback, however, at the genuine, heartfelt nature of the spot. I'm not going to say I started to tear up or anything, but it certainly tugged on the old heart strings, and there's surely something to be said about taking such a subtle idea and quite literally giving it wings.
“It’s a story of love, courage and the importance of enjoyment with family and friends”
“Coming Home” (below) went live last weekend (Sunday, November 13) and almost instantly began winning hearts and minds by encapsulating the spirit of connection over the festive period with the help of an adorable hero. It tells the story of an adorable little robin, who undertakes an epic journey across both mountain and sea before finally reaching his destination (a Waitrose mince pie ) in time for Christmas, much to the delight of his fellow avian companion and a young girl, who eagerly awaits his return. Based on the real-life migration of a Scandinavian robin, the film shares one significant thing in common with the recent John Lewis spot, in that it uses a fully CG robin to tell its story. This epic journey is also matched by an equally inspiring soundtrack by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who adapted his original track “Cambridge, 1963” from his Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning score for The Theory of Everything.
Much as with the CG creatures in the Buster the Bouncer spot, there's an almost frightening level of detail and personality to the spot's star. Directed by Sam Brown through Rogue Films, with post-production by The Mill and media planning from Manning Gottlieb OMD, every element of the story was fact-checked by bird experts, ensuring the story, and its star, is as close to reality and as factually correct as possible. The team worked with specialists in robin behaviour and anatomy in order to create a physically and behaviourally accurate CG representation, and it genuinely shows. Jorge Montiel, Creative Director at The Mill, explained: “The way robins move, their size and their lack of facial expressions meant that the bird’s personality had to be evoked almost entirely through its body language. Every little breath, heartbeat, twitch had to be present, and in time; allowing this tiny creature to take centre stage amongst the dramatic landscapes behind him.” My mother genuinely believed it was a real robin. In fact she still does (I didn't have the heart to tell her).
“The story is obviously about the migration of a robin, but we wanted to think of it in terms of a homecoming”
Richard Brim, Executive Creative Director of adam&eveDDB, said: “We’re really proud of this plucky little fella and his plight to get home for Christmas. It’s a warming story that speaks to the spirit of togetherness in the festive season and the joy of just coming home to where you belong. It feels like a great way to wrap up a great year for Waitrose.” Tim Pearson, CEO of Manning Gottlieb OMD, added: “This is a powerful story based on a simple insight, told through the imaginative and creative application of media and technology. A breadth of rich and immersive experiences will give shoppers the opportunity to engage with our robin's epic journey home.”
The campaign will be seeded on social channels and the launch will be supported through a range of channels, including full motion large format DOOH and DEPs, TVC amplification through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Broadcast and Online targeted VOD and Digital Display takeovers, which will show the robin moving through epic vistas on his journey home. The 90 film will also feature in cinemas nationally, with a 3D version, developed by Prime Focus, launching in December, bringing to life and immersing viewers into the epic plight of our plucky hero. An interactive game, developed by Manning Gottlieb OMD, will be also promoted in social and owned channels, giving Waitrose fans an engaging and fun digital experience of the robin’s journey home. There's even a book (read by the author in the clip above), which tells the tale in a little more detail, and with just as much heart. It all adds up to a gorgeous package, and perhaps one of the most genuinely moving and well put together campaigns of the season.
“The bird's story is really a human story: it's about coming back to a place where you feel safe and loved”
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK.