A long time ago, in a hospital far, far away …
Duracell returns to the Star Wars universe today, launching a holiday-themed tie-in to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ahead of that film's release in December. The 60-second spot plays off Duracell's holiday donation of 1 million batteries to power toys at 147 Children's Network Miracle Hospitals nationwide.
Developed by Anomaly and directed in suitably cheeky-epic style by Simon McQuoid, "How the Rebels Saved Christmas" goes straight for the heartstrings, telling the tale of some heroic moppets on a mission of mercy:
"We wanted to continue our partnership with Star Wars this year and continue celebrating the power that imaginative play has on kids," Duracell marketing director Ramon Velutini tells Adweek. "We came across the most incredible insight: Kids at hospitals continue to act as kids even during tough circumstances, and imaginative play plays a big role in their ability to cope during their healing process."
He adds: "We got the use of a newly opened hospital wing that had yet to be put to use. The exteriors were shot outside of a disused train factory, and all of the Star Wars costumes and gear were flown in separately by Lucasfilm."
Of course, the Star Wars franchise is all about sequels, and this Duracell ad follows a popular 2015 Force Awakens-themed spot, also from Anomaly, which depicted a spectacular space battle set in and around a suburban house on Christmas morning. This year's commercial has a similar vibe, effectively mixing Star Wars pyrotechnics with earthbound locales and integrating the imaginative world of kids with George Lucas' Imperial vision.
That said, the more serious message of "The Rebels Who Saved Christmas" gives the latest spot extra depth and dimension, casting Duracell in a positive light undiminished by the promotional nature of the enterprise. (The ad is way more charming and less manipulative than some we could name, and the company's real-world philanthropy adds a layer of authenticity.)
Plus, the Star Wars association seems especially apt. Battling illness and injury in a hospital setting can feel like taking on the Dark Side in all its fearsome fury. For ailing fans, a battery-powered mini R2-D2 could be the greatest gift in the galaxy, and the best medicine on Earth.
Production: Imperial Woodpecker
Director: Simon McQuoid
Executive Producer: Charlie Cocuzza
Producer: Anita Wetterstedt
Editorial: Arcade Edit
Editor: Jeff Ferruzzo
Executive Producer: Sila Soyer
Editorial Assistant: Sam Barden
Producer: Fanny Cruz
Visual Effects by Industrial Light & Magic
VFX Supervisor: Pat Tubach
VFX Associate Producer: Megan Matousek
Colorist: Company 3
Colorist: Tim Masick