Baileys becomes the latest big-name marketer to place an epic holiday spot under the tree with BBH London's modern take on Tchaikovsky's seasonal ballet The Nutcracker. We're treated to a Candyland holiday ball punctuated by a lengthy and superbly choreographed dance-fight between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince, which ends when Clara, the object of their affection, joins in and turns the tide in the prince's favor. (You'd think a guy called "nutcracker" could take care of himself.) The film closes with our heroine rejoining her two pals for more partying, along with the line, "Spend time with the girls this Christmas." (Celebrating the spirit of women has been a recurring Baileys theme.)
Despite its contemporary trappings—the Mouse King is ripped and tattooed; the venue looks like an "in" SoHo dance club—the spot doesn't stray far enough from its source material to feel like a true reinvention. There's no magical moment or boffo payoff. Yes, it's extremely well made, and the dancing is impressive, as are the sets, costumes and direction. Maybe it needed a bit more holiday warmth? Instead, I found myself reaching for a glass of Baileys to chase away the chill.
The two-minute spot premieres Saturday during the U.K.'s first telecast of Black Swan, and there's a tie-in with that Oscar-winning film, as Benjamin Millepied, its choreographer, also designed the athletic ballet in the ad. And he's not the only notable talent involved. Royal Ballet dancers Steven McRae, Thiago Soares and Iana Salenko perform the lead roles, while Ringan Ledwidge, of "Three Little Pigs" fame, directs.