If the Super Bowl is the one American event each year where commercials ascend into the realm of cultural phenomena, it could be argued that, across the pond, leading brands hedge their bets on Christmas to tug on a nation’s heartstrings.
The U.K. department store chain John Lewis, for instance – which has been famed for its annual Christmas ads since 2007 – released its much-anticipated spot last week to some serious hoopla. The critically-acclaimed, $1.6 million commercial, which has already clocked 13.5 million YouTube views, tells the story of a young boy who gives his lonely pet penguin the gift of romance on Christmas. See for yourself:
And the commercial is just the tip of the iceberg. All told, an $11 million campaign will include a complementary children’s book, an app, an in-store experience created in collaboration with Samsung and an astonishing array of penguin-inspired merchandise.
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But yesterday, storied British grocer Sainsbury’s threw its hat into the ring, unveiling its own holiday outing entitled “Christmas Is for Sharing.” The cinematic spot was inspired by actual events during World War I, when British and German soldiers called a temporary truce on Christmas Eve of 1914 – precisely 100 years ago – to exchange gifts and even play soccer.
The roughly four-minute advert features virtually no products – save for a chocolate bar exchanged over enemy lines, and of which Sainsbury’s will sell a replica, with all profits earmarked for charity.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.