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Creating the Disney Christmas Ad: From Our Family To Yours



Joss Hastings, VP of marketing and communications for Disney Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, EMEA, reveals the factors that went into making sure the festive story touched many different kinds of people

Creating the Disney Christmas Ad: From Our Family To Yours
The Christmas ad space is buzzing and noisy. For marketing and creative teams it is an incredible opportunity to test and stretch thinking to produce something that truly resonates with the public. One of our key strategies for Disney’s Consumer Products, Games and Publishing business is to create high impact marketing events that drive to retail, support our partners and help to sustain engagement with our franchises between content releases. Like many brands, the festive period is such an important one for us - both from a commercial and an audience perspective. For Christmas 2020 we saw the opportunity to elevate our seasonal approach with a cross-franchise campaign that not only promoted new products but also celebrated the role that Disney plays with families at Christmas. We were also keen to mark our 40 years of partnership with Make-A-Wish and this campaign provided the perfect opportunity to raise both funds and awareness for the charity. 

Our objectives were to bring some Disney magic to fans, to grow our e-commerce destination -shopDisney, to support our key partners at retail and to raise funds for charity. Our creative strategy from the start was to tell a story that felt heart-warming, timeless and uniquely Disney. Feedback since launch shows that the themes of nostalgia, magic and family togetherness it celebrates are more relevant than ever in 2020.

When it came to crafting ‘From Our Family To Yours’ – the creative team approached this in a similar way to a Disney short film. The three minute time constraint meant we had to put the characters and emotion at the core, developing a compelling narrative arc that takes viewers on a journey. Early on in the process, Brand and Creative Marketing Director Angela Affinita decided that this would be about that special relationship between a grandmother and a granddaughter, and the Christmas traditions that get passed down through generations. She drew on inspiration from her own Filipino grandmother and ‘Lola’ took shape. The relationship between Lola and her granddaughter, and how they interacted with each other needed to be realistic and relatable so that viewers could empathise and for it to feel truly universal. That personal storytelling became even more important so that we could show a family unit that people would find familiar.

It was also crucial that the scenes felt authentic throughout, so our animation partners (Flux Animation Studio) did a huge amount of research to support that. From reviewing buildings, vehicles and fashion from the 1940s for the opening scenes, through to using personal experience to develop the world around our protagonists. A great example of this is Lola’s living room, where viewers are transported to a place that felt homely - full of treasured possessions and family photos! The evolution of the animation began with the sofa and the walls and different trinkets were added from there.

Which leads me onto the Disney ‘Easter Eggs’ to surprise and delight fans. There are many in our animated movies and our Imagineers team love to hide them in our parks. It seemed fitting to include some in this advert. The very eagle-eyed should be able to spot five ‘hidden Mickey’s scattered throughout, and we also have included: a clip of our newest Disney+ short, Once Upon a Snowman on Lola’s TV; a snowglobe with Disneyland Paris castle inside; a plate featuring the Atahallan star design from Frozen 2, and a stack of Nat Geo magazines tucked away. I hope that people opt to watch the ad again and again to try to find them all!

Finally, we knew we wanted to support the emotion triggered by the visual storytelling with a great soundtrack. The relationship between music and story is one that Disney has been developing for generations. The combination can be really powerful and by having no dialogue we could reach a global audience. Our track is called Love Is A Compass, written by LA-based producers PARKWILD, part of our Disney Music Group. They have collaborated with a number of artists and writers, including Dua Lipa and Hailee Steinfeld. We arranged the track around the story, even pausing the music altogether halfway through to heighten the drama. 19-year-old, UK-based singer-songwriter Griff’s fantastic vocal range works perfectly with the lyrics. She also had a deep personal connection to the story, drawing on her own family experiences to bring it all to life.

The campaign has launched with a full digital takeover of our Disney owned channels. In December, the campaign is set to run in Vue cinemas across the region ahead of a special season of Disney Holiday Classics. Mickey plays a key role in this campaign and we have a special edition vintage Mickey available exclusively at shopDisney and The Disney Store with 25% of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish®.

While there is no doubt that this Christmas is set to feel a little different for all of us, we are delighted with how ‘From Our Family To Yours’ has been received, and we are proud to have joined so many fantastic festive brand stories being told this year. 

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