A Disenchanted Elf Learns a Christmas Lesson in Aussie Department Store’s Gorgeous Ad

Yuletide ride from Aardman and Clemenger BBDO

When you’re a Christmas elf, the holiday season is a pretty big deal. You expect those around you to take it seriously. And when they don’t live up to your expectations, well, you’ve got an existential crisis on your wee hands.

Such is the stuff of “Elf’s Journey,” a gorgeous 90-minute tale crafted by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne and Aardman Animation for Myer department stores in Australia. As the story opens, Elf’s pals Reindeer, Angel and Mouse—they’re all festive ornaments, by the way—can’t seem to get their act together while decorating a tree. So, our pint-sized, pointy-eared protagonist treks across the yuletide landscape in search of a superior Christmas vibe:

Yeah, the holidays can be a bitch. It’s an ordeal noel(f) should have to endure. (Whoa, we’re getting coal in our stocking for that putrid pun!) Luckily, after run-ins with surly snowmen, ho-ho-horrible Santas and a show-off suburban light display that threatens to black out the neighborhood, Elf’s friends welcome him back home with smiley faces and tinsel galore.

From now on, maybe the diminutive dude won’t act so elfish. (Sigh, add another lump.)

“This is the third year we’ve used our rag-tag bunch of Christmas friends,” Stephen de Wolf, executive creative director at Clemenger BBDO, tells AdFreak. “We’ve always seen them as an oddly shaped family—our modern family if you like. This got us thinking, what truths are there around families? The truth is all families are imperfect and it’s those imperfections that make them unique, and Christmas is a time to celebrate that and enjoy being together with them. Using our animated characters with their human personas allowed us to tell a heartfelt moral tale but without taking ourselves too seriously.”

The approach recalls vintage fare like A Charlie Brown Christmas, or the Rankin-Bass specials, with Elf searching for deeper meaning and learning important lessons along the way. It’s an appealing workout of traditional themes, playing like a more intimate companion piece to TBWA’s animated seasonal spot for a rival Australian retailer. (Myer is also donating $1 to The Salvation Army every time someone shares “Elf’s Journey” on Facebook.)

But wait, there’s more, in the form of an Elf Vision app that extends the campaign via augmented reality. It brings the characters to three-dimensional life across catalogs, gift cards, Instagram walls, an in-store AR treasure hunt and, most notably, a children’s storybook, The Completely & Utterly, Absolutely Perfect Christmas

“As AR is still a relatively new experience for Australian consumers, there’s a strong sense of wonderment when people see printed images come alive on their mobiles and tablets,” says Chris James, Clemenger’s executive creative director for digital.

On the low-tech end of the spectrum, plush elves, reindeers, angels and mice are also available, so folks everywhere can stage their very own Crikey Christmas celebration.

“Christmas is a time when department stores really come into their own, and as Australia’s biggest department store, it’s important that Myer is seen to play a lead role,” de Wolf says. In addition to enjoying Elf’s story, “we hope there are little moments that people can identify with from their own experiences of an Aussie Christmas—the tired high-street decorations that get wheeled out year after year, the posh Scandinavian decorations found in middle-class suburbia, the handmade decorations from your kids that fall apart and look a bit rubbish but have to go on your tree regardless, and the people who decorate their entire houses with garish lights in celebration of the season.”

CREDITS
Client – Myer
Agency – Clemenger BBDO Melbourne
Film Production – Aardman
Media Agency – Ikon