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How Energy BBDO Used Mini Figurines to Create a Big Christmas Moment



Energy BBDO’s copywriter Nick Cade and art director Erich Funke discuss simultaneously creating identical miniature and life-size figures for premium food and gift retailer Harry & David’s Christmas campaign

How Energy BBDO Used Mini Figurines to Create a Big Christmas Moment

This festive season Energy BBDO created a holiday campaign in integrated partnership with Harry & David’s in-house brand marketing team that is designed to show how the food and gift retailer helps its customers create little moments of joy using little figurines. The spot called ‘Moments in the Making’ was created using miniature figures that were 3D-printed by a model team led by Creation Consultant’s Dave Asling. 

With custom music and wonderfully festive VFX snow, the spot paints a snow globe-esque picture-perfect glimpse into a Christmas scene, which eventually bursts to life with real actors replacing their model counterparts. The copywriter and art director behind the campaign at Energy BBDO, Nick Cade and Eri Funke respectively, spoke with LBB about working to an extremely tight deadline, walking a fine line between holiday and magic and cheesiness and matching model design with real-life production design

LBB> Where did the creative spark for the spot come from? 

Nick + Eric> We couldn’t get over how much time, effort and craft Harry & David puts into every aspect of their products: their hand-tied bows, the meticulously pampered pears. The chocolatiers that obsess over every single treat that ends up in the box. After talking to them and getting to know their philosophy as a company it was clear that they weren’t just making deliciously decadent gift boxes, they were in the business of creating moments. Moments of joy. Moments of togetherness. Moments that make the holidays a little more memorable. Once we unlocked this insight, the rest came naturally. We translate this into the line, “Moments in the Making”. 

LBB> Christmas adverts are a huge deal globally - people wait for the yearly releases and it’s become part of the festivities. What are some challenges that you faced when making this Christmas advert?

Nick + Eric> Besides the incredibly tight deadline, the biggest challenge we faced was creating a fresh new campaign that appealed to a millennial and Gen Z crowd that didn’t alienate their current customers. On top of that, there is always the danger of holiday campaigns coming off as a bit cheesy so it’s a fine line we had to walk.  And most importantly, we wanted to make sure we created a visual style and concept that would stand out from the thousands of other holiday commercials thrown at the consumer. Something as crafted and tasteful as the brand itself.

When they’re done right, Holiday campaigns become weaved into the fabric of the season. Just like people look forward to watching A Christmas Story or The Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting every year, we wanted to create an iconic campaign people would look forward to experiencing every holiday. And who doesn’t love playing with action figures and building fun little art projects while hanging out with friends?

LBB> What were some vital components that you wanted to include in the spot and were there any creative challenges?

Nick + Eric> When the timeline is so fast-paced, a fluid relationship with production is a must. To pull off an intricately designed diorama that transitions to a real-life scene is a herculean task. Most of the production companies we approached said there was no way we could pull it off. Luckily, we had worked with the director Daniel Addelson on a few previous projects and with the incredible support of Hey Baby productions, after a few intense conversations, we were confident that we could make it happen. That being said, we had to forgo a lot of the production company to agency formalities of setting up meetings and created an open line of communication which made things faster and more efficient. Creative had to trust our internal producers to make decisions on the fly and vice versa.  

The most important thing we wanted to convey in this campaign was the magical holiday moments that Harry & David come with good food and great friends. The type of gathering that you’d remember forever. But most importantly this magical moment needed to happen around all of the incredible Harry & David gourmet gifts in an organic and whimsical way. We did this by using a bush as a transition and having our dancing couple lead the camera (and the view) to the table where people could interact around the food. Daniel had the idea of using professional dancers to make sure the choreography of the movement was seamless.  

The most difficult part of this campaign had to be the timing. It was less than two months from the time we were briefed until the campaign was up and running. This meant a lot of late nights and weekends for everyone. Luckily for us we had an incredibly collaborative team effort with the client. We had to trust our gut and make fast decisions and they always made themselves available for split second approvals. But no matter how stressful things got, the sheer kindness and enthusiasm the entire team had for the campaign made it all worth it. 

LBB> What was the process like for creating the models - who designed and made them? What creative direction did you want to go in?

Nick + Eric> Making the models was an incredibly fun challenge. We were simultaneously building life-sized sets, wardrobe, and practical effects while our model team lead by Dave Asling was custom 3D printing our characters and fabricating an exact replica of our rooftop. Because of the time-consuming nature of creating miniatures, and the fact that the details were so important to us, we had to lock in our cast and the design of our set weeks earlier than we would normally have to so that Dave and his team could build to match. While we always tried to build the miniatures to match our real-life production design, and sometimes we ended up having to commit to certain wardrobe choices or casting decisions with our figurines first, and reverse engineer those elements. 

The most important thing to us was for the miniature world to feel just as rich and three dimensional as our full-scale world. Our director, Dan Addelson worked closely with our production design team to add a level of detail that really brought the spot to life. This concept only worked if we were precise. 

LBB> After a tough 18 months, many people will be really looking forward to the holiday season - did this impact your approach to this campaign? 

Nick + Eric> The past 18 months were a drag for everyone. The realities of the new normal we’re living in are impossible to ignore but we wanted to give people a little magic to make them forget about their worries and a little taste of the togetherness we feel around the holidays. It also reminds them that this pandemic won’t last forever and when we can finally hang out with friends and loved ones again it will feel truly magical. And Harry & David will be right there with them. 

LBB> To me, the film feels like a Christmas celebration inside a snow globe - the suspended snow and miniature figures...

Nick + Eric> You’re not far off. The idea behind the film is that there are magical holiday moments inside every Harry & David Gourmet gift box just waiting to come to life. We wanted people to take away the thought that the delicious wines and foods were crafted to spark these unforgettable occasions. After all, great food and wine is a great way to bring people together, especially over the holidays. Using the actual gift boxes to house our living diorama helped emphasise this point. 

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Energy BBDO, Fri, 12 Nov 2021 15:03:00 GMT