Daldry directs Hallmark ad

Leo Burnett has teamed up with Stephen Daldry, the award-winning director of Billy Elliot and The Hours, to produce a new TV spot for Hallmark cards.

The commercial is part of an attempt by the company to establish itself as the country's leading greeting cards brand in a market that has been largely unaffected by the concept of branding.

The 30-second spot features an uncommunicative teenager coming home and surprising his mum with a card to wish her luck in her new job. She is overwhelmed and thanks him through his bedroom door. The spot closes on the line: "Open up with Hallmark."

The ad, which stars the comedian Doon Mackichan from the Channel 4 sketch show Smack the Pony, is Daldry's first commercial. In it, the director has attempted to create the same emotional bond between characters that he has achieved in his films.

The ad was written and art directed by Trevor Webb and Ed Morris. It was directed by Daldry through Small Family Business. Media planning and buying is handled by Starcom Mediavest.

The campaign will run on all major TV channels. Media buying is weighted toward Sundays, seen as the day when people are most relaxed and more likely to be receptive to such an emotive message.

The ad is targeted at families and aims to tap into the perceived British trait of having to find non-verbal ways to express bottled-up emotions.

Leo Burnett's executive creative director, Jim Thornton, said: "Hallmark publishes cards in more than 30 languages throughout more than 100 countries. Last year, the brand spent £1.1 million on advertising in the UK."