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Why Aldi Is Using Gnomes Not Elves This Christmas



Travis Klausmeier, creative director at Leo Burnett on creating Aldi US’ little helpers for the supermarket’s festive campaign, writes LBB’s Ben Conway

Why Aldi Is Using Gnomes Not Elves This Christmas

German supermarket chain Aldi has quite the global presence, with over 10,000 stores in 20 countries. And at this time of year, like most supermarkets with a presence in the US, the focus is almost entirely on one thing: Christmas. From turkey to potatoes, stuffing to gravy, crackers to baubles, Aldi is working hard to help Americans put on a Christmas feast with all the trimmings - with a little help from some little friends… 

Created by Leo Burnett in partnership with Digitas, the omnichannel ‘Twas the Night’ campaign gives Aldi shoppers a peek behind the curtain of how the supermarket manages to bring in so many Christmas products at great prices. The answer? Gnomes!

For some years, Aldi - known for its often surprisingly sporadic range of products - has sold gnomes. With different outfits for the various seasons, the Christmas range of soft toy gnomes gives Santa’s elves a run for their money, and now they’re helping Aldi to market its Christmas products. “We knew people would wonder how it's even possible. So, we thought we'd play with that a bit and offer up a whimsical theory on how it's done: gnomes, obviously,” says Leo Burnett’s creative director Travis Klausmeier.

From Mabel the ‘global imports expert’ to Gary the ‘operations lead’, the agency developed this new cast of characters to be as unexpected as the Aldi shopping experience. “So, rather than give them cute, elf-like voices, we wanted them to have some attitude (or ‘ALDI-tude’, if you will),” he continues. “While we know that all gnomes are created equally, Mabel stole the show. Regarding the dialogue, we worked with our wonderfully talented director Brandt Lewis, who helped cast amazing improv actors. Each knew the gist of what they needed to say and the points they needed to hit, and we gave them the freedom to make the characters their own.”

To bring these mini marvels to life, Leo Burnett worked with director of photography Bianca Cline, and the rest of the production team at Sanctuary. Bianca had previously worked with equally tiny props on the small-scaled film ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’, an experience that Travis says was vital for this project.  

“Bringing inanimate objects to life without puppeteers or CGI was a fun opportunity. The camera work, portrait style closeups, lighting to draw the viewers' eye to the characters and larger-than-life voices played a big role in the campaign's success.”

As well as the impeccable teamwork between the Leo Burnett team and Sanctuary’s production crew, Travis adds that the partnership between the agency and its collaborator, Digitas, was just as important in the triumphant campaign. “Stepping back, it also speaks volumes to the collaborative environment created and the shared vision everyone involved had. We knew exactly what we wanted to achieve, and everyone worked in lockstep to get there.”

So now that this well-oiled machine of a gnome squadron has been introduced to the world, will we be treated again to more good things in small packages from Aldi? Will we see Sam ensuring the products’ quality is up to scratch, or little Brian, giving everything a good low-price dusting? For that, says Travis, we’ll have to wait and see…

“Only time will tell if our beloved Aldi gnomes step back into the limelight, but one thing’s for sure: if they do, it’ll be huge.”

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Leo Burnett Chicago , Tue, 13 Dec 2022 17:02:00 GMT