November/December 2014 Shortlist for the Thinkboxes Awards

Boots 'Homecoming'

The brief here was to remind us that Christmas is not just about gift-giving, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the special people in our lives. We follow members of one extended family who have elected to break the conventional Christmas routine. They have stayed up late and travelled through the night to come together in the early hours of Boxing Day to surprise Mum – a nurse who has given up her Christmas Day to put in a gruelling shift at work. The ad was backed by a campaign across cinema, outdoor, print and social media.

Creative agency Mother London Creative team Mother London Client Helen Jeremiah Production company Biscuit Filmworks Director Noam Murro

John Lewis 'Monty the penguin'

John Lewis’ Christmas commercial evokes the magic of festive wish fulfilment by depicting an unlikely friendship between a boy, Sam, and his penguin friend, Monty. Throughout the year, they are inseparable; however, as the winter months draw in, Sam realises Monty is longing for a companion. Thus the emotional pay-off as, to Tom Odell’s version of The Beatles’ Real Love, Sam gets Monty the perfect gift – a new penguin friend. As the strapline has it: "Give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of."

Creative agency Adam & Eve/DDB Creative team Richard Brim, Daniel Fisher Client Craig Inglis Production company Blink Director Dougal Wilson

McVitie’s Victoria 'Christmas choir'

Last year, McVitie’s developed a menagerie of "sweeet" creatures to evoke the feelings of satisfaction its biscuits give us. For Christmas, the cast of cuddly animals was extended – and formed up into a choir. The scenario is a familiar one – a family sitting round watching telly – but, when they open up a McVitie’s Victoria box, our furry friends (puppies, kittens, reindeer, a duckling and even a narwhal) begin materialising and join together to bark, meow and quack their way through a winsome rendition of Yazoo’s Only You.

Creative agency Grey London Creative Hollie Newton Client Sarah Heynen Production company Smuggler Director Randy Krallman

Sainsbury’s 'Christmas is for sharing'

This festive offering from Sainsbury’s evokes the legendary football game between German and British troops in no man’s land on Christmas Day in 1914. It’s an epic of lavish detail: Sainsbury’s and The Royal British Legion sought to portray the event as accurately as possible, sourcing original material and working with historians throughout the process. Game over, we see two players shaking hands – and the British soldier slips a chocolate bar into the pocket of his new German friend. After all: "Christmas is for sharing."

Creative agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Creative Tim Riley Client Mark Given Production company Rattling Stick Director Ringan Ledwidge

The Co-operative Food 'Marzipan'

We all manage to forget something when we do the big Christmas grocery shop – and the omission strikes us in the unlikeliest of settings. That’s the insight behind this ad, which positions The Co-operative Food as the shop we should turn to when we realise we have left something off the list. It’s a montage of comic moments as people in everyday situations remember a vital ingredient – "marzipan!" – and blurt it out, regardless of where they are or who might be listening. It’s just as well that "Help is only a Co-op away this Christmas".

Creative agency Leo Burnett London Creative team Graham Lakeland, Richard Robinson, Hugh Todd Client Julian Reynolds Production company Gorgeous Director Vince Squibb

A view from Academy Member...

Jonathan Burley, executive creative director, CHI & Partners

Writing about Christmas ads in the cold, grey light of January has all the appeal of gnawing at a three-week-old turkey carcass, I won’t lie: ever-so-slightly less appetising, without the softening glow of fairy lights and general Dickensian goodwill.

Still, post-holiday biliousness aside, if one were looking for proof that charismatic TV advertising is alive and well and sniggering behind its hand at the overly free bandying of the word "content", one need look no further than this month’s Thinkboxes selection box.

There is a palpably keen creative ambition behind nearly all the work on offer, with snuffling biscuit-pigs and lovesick penguins and doomed Tommies, all grandly deployed in a gallant attempt to win the hearts and minds of the Great British Festive Public. Bravo, all.

Me, I’m off for a Rennie and a lie-down.

This is one Thinkbox Academy member’s view.  What do you think? You can view these brilliant ads at

The Thinkboxes, in association withCampaign, are the only bi-monthly awards that celebrate the UK’s world-beating TV ad creativity, in all its forms.

The Thinkboxes are judged by the 250-plus Academy members.

Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and UKTV. Thinkbox works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today’s TV.


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