#XMAS2015: Burberry x Billy Elliot

Something I have had the chance to learn during my time at uni so far is that the way brands promote themselves changes not only from label to label, but also throughout the decades. There is always more to a brand than just a logo, or just a signature item, or just a name: all of these elements and more make up what we could define a brand “menu”, a sort of equation, which, when carried out well, is what will make that brand surface among all the rest and stand out on its own.

But it is the public which defines which part of this mix should have the most focus, which over time has dictated what card brands have been playing the most. For example, in the 50s and 60s a signature and a crest were what made the world go round (think Schiaparelli), in the 70s and 80s a monogram logo (think Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana), in the 90s and 2000s a dominant colour or pattern (Burberry check anyone?). And so on.

Nowadays, people have grown bored of all this. Probably because of the huge amount of information we are constantly exposed to, the multitude of products available to us in the matter of a click, the millions of new brands that try to essentially sell us the same old product and have to find a new way to present it. There are fewer and fewer amazing inventions that change our everyday life dramatically (one could argue that there are none), so it isn’t about selling the product anymore, so much as it about selling an idea, a way of life, a value. If you pay attention you will notice that hardly any TV ad focuses on the product they’re selling anymore: they tell you a story, be it about romance, about family, about trust, about freedom, about luxury – and then feature the actual product maybe at the very end.

Which is what leads me to write about Christmas ads.

Christmas ads I believe are a perfect example of this phenomenon. It is a time of the year in which almost all brands gather their creative teams to come up with a new, compelling campaign that will draw customers towards their stores for their Christmas shopping. So, what do they try and appeal to? What aspect of the consumers’ minds and souls will they attempt to communicate to? Which need will they convince you that they alone can fulfill?

I will begin with Burberry’s campaign, if solely because it was the winner at the British Fashion Awards for the category Creative Campaign.

The running theme is a celebration of Britishness (as portrayed by so many British stars to make up a whole constellation) and an homage to Billy Elliot, a British cinematic classic, recreating the film’s opening scene to mark the 15th anniversary of its release. This is clearly consistent with Burberry’s message of quintessential British heritage and tradition.

‘Billy Elliot is an incredible film full of so much joy and energy, so it was a real thrill and a great honour to be able to celebrate its 15 year anniversary through our festive campaign,’ said Christopher Bailey, Burberry chief creative and chief executive officer. ‘It was also a huge privilege to work with such amazing and iconic British talent – the cast are quite simply some of the biggest names in film, music and fashion and it was so much fun working with them all to make this special film’.

In it, 12-year-old Romeo Beckham, who was also the face of their last year’s Festive campaign, sports a classic Burberry-check scarf in red as he jumps up and down on a trampoline. He is soon joined by a dazzlingly British cast, featuring the likes of Julie Walters (who starred in the 1990 film), Sir Elton John (who wrote the music for the staged musical), Naomi Campbell, George Ezra and James Corden – all wearing some kind of Burberry trademark (Julie’s scarf has even got her initials sewn on the back). Following the music (‘Cosmic Dancer’ by T. Rex, from the movie’s original soundtrack) the ad ends with a firework-like explosion of glitter and confetti which just brings the audience back to what this was all about in the first place – Christmas time! Or, as they prefer to word it, general festiveness and celebratory feel, as the brand made it a point to call it a Festive campaign, and not a Christmas campaign, in order to include those who do not celebrate the Christian holiday.

Burberry Festive Campaign 2015 'Billy Elliot anniversary' @Thorns Have Roses

On top of all this, the campaign aims to make a charitable, philantropic gesture, in pure Christmas spirit. Quoting from the Vogue website:

The original production of Billy Elliot established a legacy of charitable support for the local community of Easington, County Durham where the film is set. Inspired by this, Burberry is making a donation of £500,000 to be split between two charities, Place2Be and the County Durham Community Foundation, which have projects focusing on reducing barriers to education, training and employment in the local area. None of the stars who took part in the film were paid for their involvement, all choosing to donate their fee to the charities as well.

My first thought watching the ad was, how are they keeping such straight faces and badass poses while being thrown into the air by a trampoline?! And my second thought was – I wanna join them!

What do you think of this ad? Do you love it or hate it? I will be writing about a few other Christmas campaigns that have caught my attention, so stay tuned if you want to read some more about it!


sources / photo credits:
Vogue
The Guardian
Harper’s Bazaar

Down the (digital) rabbit hole

It was now 150 years ago that Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland made its first appearance into the book shelves. Lewis Carroll’s bizarre and nonsensical novel has gained such a popularity over the decades, that it has never once stopped being a source of inspiration across all arts. Its whimsical stories, wonderful characters and witty wordplays have effectively transcended the context of literature and made their way into our collective imagination, and it feels as if this bond can never be severed: you say white rabbit, you think of Alice; you say hatter, you think of the Mad one; you say Cheshire, you think of the Cat’s mischievous grin; you say Queen of Hearts, you think “Off with their heads!”.

Down the (digital) rabbit hole: Book illustrations @Thorns Have Roses

It therefore comes without saying that this year’s anniversary will spark lots of new, creative ways to pay homage to such a big part of popular culture. One of these is undoubtedly a new production opening at the London’s National Theatre.

wonder.land (pronounced “wonder-dot-land”) is a new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic story and it’s about a young girl, Aly, who, trapped in a life from which she feels alienated and surrounded by people who constantly disappoint her, disappears into another wonderful (online) world through the “rabbit hole” of her smartphone.

Combining live theatre and digital technology, Rufus Norris stages what they call an “immersive digital installation”, venturing into an exploration of the potential of theatre and video. The wide range of technologies used by their creative team (from motion picture and facial motion capture to the creation of a full 3d character) marries perfectly with the uber-modern online-age reinterpretation of Alice’s adventures, which touches on topics such as virtual realities, idealised avatars and Internet gambling addiction.

Down the (digital) rabbit hole: wonder.land Musical National Theatre London @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: wonder.land Musical National Theatre London @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: wonder.land Musical National Theatre London @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: wonder.land Musical National Theatre London @Thorns Have Roses

The contrast between the dullness of the real world and the fantastical glitz of wonder.land, the fictional online game, is in large part achieved through technology. ‘The video is really important to create that contrast’, says Betsy Dadd, assistant designer. ‘The real world is made into a very analog, black and white, handmade way. And then we transition into this technicolour, computer-generated landscape’.

Vogue didn’t miss the chance to join the celebrations, and their December issue features Kendall Jenner posing alongside the cast from wonder.land in a uniquely quirky and wacky photoshoot by Mert and Marcus.

Rocking bleached hair and dark eye make-up, Jenner is wrapped in bold and bright outfits, surrounded by fantastical characters and weird sets that are out of this world.

Down the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: Kendall Jenner for Vogue @Thorns Have Roses

This isn’t the first time Vogue takes inspiration from Carroll’s tales. In fact, how to forget the whimsical and magical shoot by photographer Annie Leibovitz, famous for her fantasy shots full of awe, surprise and intimacy. Similarly to Mert and Marcus’ work, here Natalia Vodianova, dressed up as little Alice, stars alongside famous faces the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Down the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesAlice2Down the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have RosesDown the (digital) rabbit hole: "Wonderland" photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz @Thorns Have Roses

Some stories are meant to last forever, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of those. These images have the power to stir profound memories in us, summon up fairy-tale worlds of merry unbirthdays and late-running rabbits, and draw us irresistibly into fantastical realms of dream.


sources / photo credits:
Vogue
Daily Mail
The Guardian
Child Mode