Sainsbury’s The Greatest Gift Christmas Ad Goes Viral

Created in Britain using stop frame animation, the new musical-style Sainsbury’s spot has garnered over 5 million views in just 5 days.

Sainsbury’s, one of the UK’s largest and oldest food retailers, has rolled out its 2016 Christmas campaign, with a spot titled The Greatest Gift. The musical-style advert was created and produced in Britain using stop frame animation techniques, with a full-length (3 minutes, 20 seconds) version newly released.

Seeing initial release across the brand’s Facebook and Twitter channel, the short has received over five million views since its YouTube debut five days ago. The commercial aired for the first time on television via ITV’s Proud to Present series this week, premiering on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

The push will help raise vital funds for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, with all proceeds to be channelled towards providing accommodation for the families of the children at the hospital. Directed by Sam Fell, the narrative features the charming tale of Dave, a hardworking and devoted father.

The film opens with him in the animated town of Bisby, where he is slightly overwhelmed by the busy season. One night, he returns home late to find his children fast asleep, only to spot a gingerbread man decorated to look just like him. He comes up with an ingenious plan to ensure he is with his family for Christmas.

He has a brainwave and goes to the toy factory where he works to create a series of replica versions of himself in all shapes and sizes, from tapping monkeys to nodding dogs to toy planes and dancing robots. By sending them to all the places he should be, he manages to make it home in time to join the family celebrations.

Beautifully animated for the screen, the story is told via an original and humourous song—The Greatest Gift for Christmas Is Me—which is voiced by British actor, James Corden, and composed by Bret McKenzie, a comedian, musician, and producer, who won the 2012 Oscar for best original song in The Muppets.

It took 420 hours to film the stop frame portion of the film in the studio, and eight weeks in post-production for editing. Over 180 people worked on the production. All the puppets were built by Mackinnon and Saunders in Manchester, and the sets by Clockwork Frog in Stockport. The stop motion sequences were filmed at Malcolm Ryan Studios in London.

The creative is designed to entertain kids and families across the UK. Profits from the sale of the specially-created ‘Gingerbread Dave’ (£1) and The Greatest Gift film animation kit (£5) will go to said charity. From 21 November, shoppers can make a donation at the till and request to have it channelled to the organisation.

The animated world of Dave will also be reflected in the Sainsbury’s traditional food focused Christmas advertising campaign launching on 18 November. Blending stop frame animation and live action, it will showcase the food on offer this year and celebrate the role food plays in bringing people together at Christmas.

“We think many families will be able to relate to the idea that Christmas can be such a busy, making it hard to prioritise simple family time. We hope our ad reminds people of that, and provides some light-hearted entertainment for the whole family,” said Sarah Kilmartin, Head of Broadcast Comms at Sainsbury’s.

“Supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity felt like a very natural extension of this. We are also incredibly proud to have created this year’s Christmas ad in the UK, using cutting-edge technology and the best British talent from the film and animation industry.”