Ad of the Day: Sainsbury’s ‘Christmas in a Day’ Will Bring Tears to Your Eyes

Particularly the final scene—and this is just the trailer

Are you ready for a crowdsourced Christmas ad?

Yes, it sounds like a bad idea. But this British spot for grocery chain Sainbury's from AMV BBDO—actually a trailer for a longer film, coming at the end of the month—is pretty wonderful. And it reminds you that crowdsourced footage, in the right hands, can be very moving indeed.

In this case, the hands are Kevin Macdonald's. In 2010, the Scottish director—known for movies including The Last King of Scotland and Touching the Void—made a documentary called Life in a Day, which spliced together footage shot on a single day by people around the world. Now, in partnership with Sainbury's, he has made a sequel of sorts—a 50-minute film called Christmas in a Day, which will be posted to YouTube on Nov. 29. This three-and-a-half minute spot, which consumed an entire ad break last Wednesday on Coronation Street, is a trailer for it—but serves as a lovely holiday ad in its own right.

"When we made Life in a Day, we asked people around the globe to record their lives on a single ordinary day," Macdonald says. "When we were cutting that film, we talked about what it might be like if we chose a day that already had significance to people. The result is Christmas in a Day."

Many stories about the trailer have focused on the final scene, which is understandable, as it's very emotional. But there are lots of gems throughout—in particular, the kids preparing for Santa and his reindeer, and the guy planning his Christmas lunch with a spreadsheet (he's already become something of a folk hero in the U.K.).

It's an overused word, but this is as authentic as it gets, capturing genuine moments that are peculiar, adorable and just plain real. The clear contrast, of course, is Wieden + Kennedy's Tesco spot—a painstaking replica of a family at Christmas. Both approaches can work. But with a talent like Macdonald, Sainbury's put itself in a position to produce something very special—well beyond the scope of a traditional Christmas ad. The finished film should be something else.

UPDATE: Here's the full film:


Client: Sainsbury's

Agency: AMV BBDO, London

Director: Kevin Macdonald