It’s bloody brilliant to see that two of the best Christmas ads this year are first-class swansongs from agencies that could have been forgiven for limping over the finishing line on accounts from which they’ve been fired.
Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R’s elegant, warm and wonderfully engaging ad for Marks & Spencer is its best Christmas campaign for the brand for years (and front-runner for best ad of the season). Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s beautifully crafted, intricate spot for Sainsbury’s is a fittingly epic full stop to 35 years of strategic and creative excellence.
Both ads glow with the visceral understanding that comes from long-term partnerships between brands and agencies. Both ads are testament to relationships that went well beyond the sort of commoditised contractual exchanges that are becoming more prevalent.
And both ads are eloquent screw-yous. Not that the agencies would put it like that; RKCR and AMV have been dignified (at least in public) in their response to losing such long-loved accounts. So I’ll say it for them: screw you. There’s nothing like a blistering finale to show a departing client what they’ll be missing. Both campaigns are also brilliant ads for the agencies themselves: look what we could do for you.
So, this year, Christmas doesn’t belong to John Lewis. It might belong to Adam & Eve/DDB, though. From Buster the Boxer to Waitrose’s robin and the glorious H&M Christmas campaign (coming later this month but more than worth the wait: Wes Anderson!), the agency is on very fine seasonal form. Perfect, then, that Christmas should also mark the launch of Adam & Eve/DDB in New York as the agency prepares to take on Samsung in North America.
I’m not sure whether this is a beautiful end to the story that began in 2007 with James Murphy, Ben Priest and David Golding quitting RKCR to launch an agency with Jon Forsyth: their earn-out after selling the shop to DDB in 2012 is reaching its end and maybe this is their swansong. Then again, launching in the US could also be the beginning of the sequel.
Either way, it’s clear that the Adam & Eve brand has the momentum to snare a major US account and the stature to stand alongside the mighty DDB as a complementary agency in North America. But what I love most about this Christmas story is that after banking more money than most people could earn in several lifetimes, Adam & Eve’s founders still care far more than too many ad people ever care. As RKCR’s Mark Roalfe or AMV’s Cilla Snowball might tell you, that’s not always enough. But when it’s allied to ferocious ambition and the passionate pursuit of great work, New York could be just the beginning.