Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

Your Shot: How DDB Warsaw Found the Perfect Christmas Tree for McDonald’s

Advertising Agency
Warsaw, Poland
Senior copywriter Mateusz Gaca and senior art director Pablo Dominguez tell LBB’s Adam Bennett how they brought their multifaceted festive campaign to life

At this time of year, it’s especially hard for a campaign to cut through. The onslaught of warm and fuzzy ads during the festive period can feel overwhelming, and your campaign risks getting lost without something to help it stand out.

For creatives at DDB Warsaw, the solution for their campaign for McDonald’s lay in a multi-pronged campaign telling the story of a boy picking out his perfect Christmas tree. First of all came a live-action TVC that kicked off the campaign, but what followed was a physical book for kids to enjoy at McDonald’s, as well as an animated spot to run on socials. 

To find out more about the campaign, LBB’s Adam Bennett spoke to senior copywriter Mateusz Gaca and senior art director Pablo Dominguez.

LBB> Congratulations on a great campaign! Where did the idea for the physical book tie-in come from?

Mateusz & Pablo> Truth is, we created the TV spot for Christmas 2018, but because of different circumstances, finally the client decided not to produce it. What disappointed us back then has now turned into a great creative opportunity. 

At one point, four months before this Christmas, the client told us they wanted to produce it for this year. 

So Zuza, our creative director came to us and asked if we could extend the campaign beyond the ‘typical’ extended campaign in social media, since we had four months for production. And then the snowball effect started.

You can check out a gallery of images showcasing the book below:

LBB> Did McDonald’s always want the campaign to feature the book as well?

Mateusz & Pablo> Truth be told, they weren’t expecting additional content for the Christmas campaign. They assumed that the digital campaign was going to be based on what we were going to prepare in the TVC. Of course, all the materials are strongly connected with each other, but not in a straightforward way. That was totally unexpected for the client, but when they heard the idea of the multimedia book and animation they just said, “oh, it’s lovely”. Which is something that it’s always nice to hear from the client side!


LBB> And was it always the intention to go with an animated spot?

Mateusz & Pablo> Not really. But once we had the book featuring animated elements combined with static ones, it was only logical to develop the aforementioned animated bits into a standalone animation, for all those who couldn’t obtain the book as it was quite a limited edition.

LBB> What made Sebastian Pańczyk the right choice as director for this project?

Mateusz & Pablo> We have worked with Sebastian before, and not only is he one of the best directors in Poland, but the relation with him is always smooth. He is very professional, and was able to grab the idea and elevate it. He was the original choice in 2018 to shoot this spot, and he was as happy as we were when he got to know we were finally producing it in 2019. 

We love to work with him and his sense of humour and cinematic sense. We knew that the idea for the spot was really interesting, but what makes this ad great are the crucial details and we had confidence that no one would deliver them better that Sebastian.

LBB> What made this the right story to tell for this campaign?

Mateusz & Pablo> We were looking for something unique for McDonald’s, something that we could say we haven’t seen before and something that won’t be stiff and tell people what they should think, do or feel. From the very beginning we were focused on making something which will be charming and make people truly smile. 

LBB> Can you tell me about the research that went into this campaign before you settled on the idea? What insights did you pick up?

Mateusz & Pablo> Not much research was needed. It was based on the insight that many people, especially kids, ‘duck’ when going under McDrive’s clearance bar. That, combined with the cultural observation that in Poland every family goes to a tree market to buy the perfect tree, seemed to be a perfect solution for this brief.

LBB> How have you found the reaction to the campaign so far?

Mateusz & Pablo>The reaction has been tremendously positive. Luckily, we’ve been featured in different local and international specialised media. And our colleagues from other agencies let us know they really liked it. Even DDB Global published it on their social channels.

LBB> What were the most difficult elements and how did you overcome them?

Mateusz & Pablo> Well, first was the location. We didn’t want to shoot it in a big city… we were looking for a small, cute town with a distinctive old feel which would give us a charming Christmas atmosphere. 

The second, and much more difficult, was to synchronise the TV live action spot with the book and animation. We wanted to have as many common points as we could, so the production departments for each part of the project were quite dependent on each other. When we thought about one of them, we also needed to think about how that may impact for the second one. For example the colours of the boy’s hats, or the car type.

The third was music. Right now this particular Stevie Wonder song seems to be the obvious choice, but during the process we had a huge discussion about it. Music is something that can always improve the movie, or ruin it if it’s too cheesy. But on the first edit, all our concerns disappeared.