Ad of the Day: Marks & Spencer Goes Down the Rabbit Hole in Opulent Christmas Spot

A mix of fantasies

RKCR/Y&R's stylish pastiche of Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin and The Wizard of Oz for Marks & Spencer is something between a stagy English panto and a catwalk presentation. But what really looks expensive are the actors—Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, whose legs (well, legs, etc.) were immortalized on film by Michael Bay in Transformers 3; David Gandy; and a very brief appearance by Helena Bonham Carter as the Wizard (and also the woman who catches Toto, who sort of does double-duty for the White Rabbit in this spot).

For those unfamiliar with the chain, Marks & Spencer is basically Target for English people, and it takes great pride in its annual Christmas telly advert, which is now premiering on the [insert Brit euphemism for Internet]—specifically, YouTube and the company's own website.

It's fine. Everybody's gorgeous, of course, especially Huntington-Whiteley, whose glee at taking the little clutch from the Mad Hatter's table makes me want to buy her a pony. But it's a little sanitized. The last time I saw characters from The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland together, it was in Alan Moore's incredibly disturbing graphic novel Lost Girls (recently banned in New Zealand!), so perhaps I'm just longing to be bothered or surprised by something. Bonham Carter, interestingly, is the only performer here who has lines.

The practical effects here are very good, notably the emergence of Bonham Carter's monstrous cranium from the Wizard's big green door. In fact, the whole two-and-a-half-minute spot, directed by Johan Renck, has kind of a pop-up-book aesthetic that's probably the most interesting thing about the ad.

"Believe in magic and sparkle!" exhorts the tagline at the end. Sold on the sparkle. The magic, less so.

Director: Johan Renck
Agency: RKCR/Y&R
Creatives: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss
Producer: Sally Pritchett
Business Director: Priya Patel
Planning Director: Alison Hoad
Media Company: Walker Media
Production Company: Black Label Productions
Producer: Annabel Ridley
DoP: Simon Chadoir
Editor: Art Jones at Work
Post Prod Producer: Paul Branch
Post Prod Supervisor: Tom Harding
Post Production: MPC
Colorist: Jean-Clement Soret
Composer: Guy Farley
Music Supervision: Dan Neale at Native
Audio Post: Aaron Reynolds at Wave