Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA Agency News: VCCP, Spark Foundry, Rehab and many more

The finest toy shop in the world, Hamleys, has launched its Christmas campaign which aims to raise awareness of their festive in-store experiences. The campaign marks Hamleys first since appointing VCCP London, media agency VCCP Media, and VCCP’s content production studio Girl&Bear earlier this year. Tapping into the seasonal excitement in the lead up to Christmas, the enchanting campaign reminds the nation of the joy that lies in authentic experiences with loved ones. The integrated campaign comes to life through photography and will run across OOH, social media, and targeted publications local to Hamleys UK stores in London, Glasgow and Oxford, with a bigger takeover of OOH sites at Winter Wonderland. To highlight that precious sense of excitement children have in the lead up to Christmas, the creative features children’s expectant faces pressed up against store windows as they eagerly await for Hamleys to open their doors. The tongue-in-cheek creative heroes this with its headline ‘Welcome to the most incredible Christmas experience, But not until 10am. Sorry’, with variable store times reflected appropriately across the campaign. Alternatively, some feature the line ‘Just wait until you get inside.’ The charming campaign speaks to an audience of all ages, but specifically targets parents across London, Oxford and Glasgow in its aim to enhance Hamleys brand affinity and bring people closer to the brand as well as closer together. This taps into the Christmas spirit of togetherness, uniting the nation around a shared experience at a time it needs this most. 

Clarins, one of the most trusted and respected beauty brands, has selected media agency Spark Foundry to handle its media scope in the UK. As their incumbent media agency, Spark Foundry has a long-standing partnership with Clarins and has supported the brand with a wide range of new product launches, ventured into new media channels such as CTV, and put Clarins at the forefront of progressive conversations around the menopause. As part of the win, Spark Foundry will continue to handle media strategy, planning and buying, including performance media, across the entire Clarins skincare and makeup range.

Digital innovation agency Rehab has created the world’s first Christmas advert solely using AI. The 129-second film, which tells the story of a donkey who wants to be a reindeer, was generated using a suite of cutting-edge AI tools that produced everything from storylines and scripts to final visual assets and audio. The film features a poignant soundtrack and a heartwarming and convincing narrative arc, during which the characters develop in profound and emotional ways – something of a surprise even to the ad’s human creators. Devised as part of Rehab’s regular Hackweeks, which challenge the agency’s multidisciplinary team to experiment using emerging technology, the piece took just four days to complete from start to finish. Some of the team that produced the advert hadn’t used any of the AI platforms before, so the effectiveness of the maturing technology is remarkable. The rehab team – which is made up of product strategists, designers and innovators – started the process by giving an AI the ‘persona’ of a creative director who specialises in making Christmas adverts, before briefing it to devise festive scripts. The resulting storyline charts the story of a donkey called Bob who wants to be a reindeer, and is brought to life via a computer-generated narration to accompany the AI-generated imagery and audio.

AKQA, has launched its annual Christmas card, Little Wings, which this year was inspired by the Ukrainian folk song Shchedryk, more commonly known as Carol of the Bells. AKQA worked with award-winning production designer and artist Mariia Shub and her brother, animation director Rodion Shub, two Ukrainians temporarily displaced to the UK and Canada, to bring the story of Little Wings to life. The animated Christmas card aims to spread hope, and awareness of the lives that have been impacted by the war in Ukraine, this Christmas. Little Wings is the story of Shchedryk, and was originally written by Mykola Leontovych over one hundred years ago as a traditional Ukrainian folk song heralding the coming of spring. Shchedryk’s original well-wishing lyrics tell the tale of a swallow flying between households, proclaiming the plentiful year that the family will have, inspiration for the tale of Little Wings. The song’s title is derived from the Ukrainian word ‘shchedryj’, meaning ‘bountiful’. Accompanied by the Shchedryk melody, AKQA’s Little Wings inspired Christmas card follows a lonesome swallow’s adventure to guide carol singers to a family in need of renewed hope. The allegorical handcrafted animation uses Ukrainian culture and creativity to inspire hope and joy in all. Kyiv Children’s Choir Shchedryk, one of Ukraine’s most recognised youth musical ensembles, provides the soundtrack, led by Artistic Director and Chief Conductor, Marianna Sablina. The film features sound design by composer, producer and international DJ, Damon Baxter (also known as the Deadly Avenger).

VCCP Media, the media division of the global challenger network for challenger brands has announced a streak of new business wins. The media shop has been appointed by brands ABI, Callaway Golf Europe, Major League Baseball and cosmetic clinic group SK:N. VCCP Media have secured a multitude of accounts including The Association of British Insurers (ABI), winning a joint pitch win with sister agency Teamspirit. The agencies will take an integrated approach to ABI’s media planning and buying, using both offline and online methods to effectively reach its customer base. Following a competitive pitch process the award-winning agency has claimed the UK’s leading skin clinic, SK:N, winning both an SEO and through the line performance remit with work commencing with immediate effect. Expanding their remit in the sporting and e-commerce sector, VCCP Media will also now manage the digital performance media for Callaway as well as other brands in their portfolio which include golf and luggage brand OGIO and men’s clothing and golf apparel brand TravisMathew. To seal this succession of wins, VCCP Media alongside sister agency CSM will be responsible for all media planning and buying across the Major League Baseball (MLB) series which returns to the UK next summer. This appointment by MLB marks the growth of VCCP Media’s international outreach and the growing diameter of its fully comprehensive service.

Lucky Generals have picked up the brief to communicate the Guardian’s reader-supported model and progressive voice to a worldwide audience. The move reflects the news brand’s strong international growth and the fact that it increasingly generates its income from a global community of supporters. International growth has been central to the Guardian’s recent success, with non-UK revenues now accounting for a third of the total business and particular strength in the US and Australia. The brand has attracted over 1 million supporters worldwide, consisting of recurring digital payments, one-off single contributions and print subscriptions across the Guardian, the Observer and Guardian Weekly. Lucky Generals have been appointed to work with the Guardian’s in-house marketing team to develop a major brand platform that will appeal to this global audience and continue to build and engage the supporter base. Lucky Generals’ appointment came after a short, competitive tender.

With Christmas ads hitting our screens since early November, Taco Bell UK has unveiled its first ever TV advert, in mid-December. With millions of pounds being poured into blockbuster ads, Taco Bell UK is taking a different approach, throwing its hat into the ring with a low-fi animated ad created in partnership with The Or and viral YouTube creator of 1.12M subscribers, An0nymooose. The brand’s debut advert has been launched to align with new research that has revealed over 11 million Brits with the feel crunch most between the 12th and 20th of December. Airing only once in a cost savvy spot on ITV2 at 11.25pm on December 11th, and supported by a large social activation, the nation will be entitled to a free Crunchy Taco on Taco Tuesday, 13th December. The 30’ animation unfolds with Santa Claus arriving at a Taco Bell car park as a YouTube food reviewer. Living out an animated nightmare, there will be strange happenings and a plot that veers away from the traditional cheer of Christmas ads.

Leeds based marketing agency, Audience, has been shortlisted in two categories for the upcoming Northern Digital Awards 2023. Established just over 18 months ago, the business has already been making waves in the industry – having secured financial backing from Yorkshire entrepreneur Tim Whitworth last year, and quickly growing their team to meet demand. The agency will find out in January how they’ve faired in both categories, with nominations for ‘Best Digital Marketing Campaign – B2B’, for their work with premium Harrogate food hall Weetons, and ‘Best Low Budget Campaign’, for their collaboration with local chip shop, The Bearded Sailor, and children’s charity Candlelighters.