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Why Argos’ Chaotic Christmas Ad Is No Winter Wonderland

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The British retailer needed to be real, but also needed to entertain more than ever, The&Partnership’s ECD Toby Allen tells LBB’s Alex Reeves

Why Argos’ Chaotic Christmas Ad Is No Winter Wonderland


Christmas, as it's presented in British rom-coms, isn’t 100% accurate. It’s not a snowy fairytale and most people in the country don’t live in pristine London townhouses with cherubic carollers knocking every night to sing in perfect harmony.

A British Christmas is usually a little less picturesque and a lot more chaotic. And that’s what the Christmas advert for Argos reflects this year, along with the anticipation for that chaos in the line: ‘They’re coming. Be ready.’




The retailer has always been both grounded and playful, considers The&Partnership executive creative director Toby Allen as he explains the tone of the long-form film at the centre of the campaign, directed by Gary Freedman. “We wanted to do something that felt big and epic, but at the same time, very much grounded in the reality of Christmas this year. So there's realism in the feeling of loads of people coming – ‘how do we deal with them?’ And the setting. It's not a magical kingdom. It's very much an ordinary UK environment. Christmas Day is not meant to be a winter wonderland. There's some frost on the roofs, and the houses have got some decorations, but it looks like Christmas does in 2022 in the UK, which is just a sort of dull day, not a fantasy.” It was shot on a real street on the outskirts of London in September – one that somehow looks like most places in the UK.

Then there are the guests that we need to ‘be ready’ for. “There are characters that we recognise like the screaming Nerf nephews, the trifle aunties, the cracker jokers and the neighbours who come around and party in the kitchen and don't leave until 3 am,” says Toby.

But the film is not a mundane scene. It’s a frenzied stampede of caricatures – a cast of around 250 including extras, all exaggerated versions of these tribes. “It's playing with that reality of this Christmas. And then turned up to 11.” 

We were talking about these tribes of people. So you instantly recognise the character types, and then you amplify that character type by having loads of them. It's almost like they're imagining this Christmas – what's it going to be like? And we had loads of lines that we ad-libbed like the squirty cream line. There were loads of things that they were reacting to, that we tried out with the couple inside the house as well. So it was a lot of fun.

“Argos have always been playful. And more so at Christmas. And even more so this Christmas, because not everything's going to be great for everyone. So you’ve got even more duty to entertain. The best communications take an insight and then wrap that up in an entertaining way. You recognise the truth on this is grounded, but then you have a lot of fun in the way that you bring that insight to life.”

Going back to the strategy, The&Partnership’s insights were that Christmas is always chaos at its best, but we love it anyway. “But because of the cost of living prices, fewer people are going out than probably would like to go out, so there will actually probably be more home hosting,” says Toby. And with the World Cup on during the festive period, there are likely to be even more guests as people watch games at each others’ houses. He continues, “So if anything, Christmas might be more chaotic this year than others, putting more pressure on the home to deliver.


“The long-form film celebrates that chaos with all the playfulness that we've talked about. And there's a clear role for Argos in the story, which is: ‘we've got you covered for no matter how many people are coming over, what they're into, what their demands are, how much chaos they bring’. Argos are there for the delivery and can sort you out.” 

The other half of the campaign – the shorter spots of 10 seconds – where over 50% of the media spend is going, uses this construct of different tribes coming over. Each tribe is going to need a different solution. The World Cup fans need a flat-screen TV, the kitchen partiers need a sound system, the trifle aunties will require a bigger bowl and the feral Nerf gun kids need a Nintendo Switch to keep them quiet.

There's digital out-of-home work in the campaign as well, which doesn't include the tribe members as such but is the same construct of a solution to every hosting need - all under the thought: ‘They’re coming. Be ready.’ 

Traditionally, many Brits would have thought of the Argos catalogue – a huge part of its business before online shopping took over – as the ultimate Christmas present-planning guide. And you can, of course, get all of your presents from Argos. But the strategy this year reinforces this by reminding shoppers that they can also get all the homeware needed to be the best Christmas host, as well as all the tech you need to welcome guests, and all at good value for money. “So Argos is uniquely positioned to tell that story: whatever's coming down the tracks this Christmas, we've got you covered,” says Toby. “In a really democratic way as well. Argos has always been for everyone. In this spot by everyone, we mean everyone's coming.”



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The&Partnership, Wed, 09 Nov 2022 17:58:00 GMT