heroes its 'little helpers' in north pole-tinged Christmas ad

Notonthehighstreet faces a distinct "complexity" in the challenge of telling its story to consumers, as the online marketplace launches its Christmas campaign by Mother.

In the past the brand has struggled with the balance between the need to make its own identity visible, and to profile the creative partners that use the platform to sell their creations, Notonthehighstreet's customer director Hannah Webley-Smith said.

"It’s always a balance for us – vitally important that our partners are front and centre," she said. "But you want an ad to be a single message as much as possible."

The brand hopes to have solved the conundrum with its new Christmas campaign, "Magic is real" – the first festive work from Mother since it replaced WCRS as the brand’s creative agency earlier this year.

Filmed in a documentary style, the ad features a number of creative partners working on the bespoke products available from the website. As the running time passes, a number of visual clues reveal that the protagonists of the ad are, in fact, Santa’s elves.

Webley-Smith said that despite its experience with retail campaigns, Mother had found that Notonthehighstreet required "another layer of thought" due to the nature of the brand.

"We have to start from a little bit of a different place," she said. "I think because our brand name is so descriptive, for us we want to get the partner message across, so consumers understand it’s about the small creative businesses across the UK."

Directed by John Dower through Pulse Films, the ad will debut during ITV drama Tutankhamun this Sunday evening, and will also be shown during The X Factor the following Saturday.

It will be supported by other media including radio, as well as a range of social initiatives, including "Elf Help", a gift advice service in Facebook Messenger; and a series of social videos profiling the creative partners featured in the ad.

Webley-Smith said the opportunity for the platform came from the changing nature of material desire, which has two aspects.

"There’s the thing about trying to find something different or unique, especially for gifting – that the thought behind the product is different," she said. "And then there’s the provenance and the way things are made.

"We’ve been through the time frame where purchasing in volume is so possible. Now we’re at the start of ‘buy less but buy better’."