Argos bangs the drum for Christmas catalogue in 1980s-soundtracked ad

Father and daughter story celebrates emotional role played by catalogue in building excitement for Christmas.

Argos is putting the item that perhaps best sets it apart from rival retailers – its catalogue – at the centre of this year’s Christmas campaign, in which a father and daughter conjure up a roaring rock concert during a drumming duet.

The three-minute film, created by The & Partnership London, is soundtracked by 1985 hit Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds, famous for its use in teen classic The Breakfast Club.

It begins with a dad opening the Argos catalogue to see his daughter has circled the present she has her eye on: a Music Alley three-piece junior drum kit. At this point, the drum kit bursts out of the ground and the man begins to play, his kitchen fittings transforming into speakers and stage lights, and the music video for the song starts to play on his TV. 

When his daughter appears, he invites her to join on a second set of drums and the scene gradually evolves into a full live show, complete with cheering crowd.

The work was created by Ludo Thomas and Arthur Harry, and directed by Traktor through Stink. The media agency is PHD.

The full-length film will be used on YouTube, while 60- and 30-second cuts will be shown on TV, starting with Coronation Street and Googlebox tonight (1 November). Shorter, response-driven ads will follow from late November.

Speaking to Campaign, Argos head of marketing communications Dan Elton said that circling desired gifts in the Argos catalogue had long been a ritual that was "almost like the starting gun to Christmas" for many families. 

A key objective for the campaign, he said, was to embody the brand positioning introduced in 2018: "You’re good to go." 

Recent Argos campaigns, Elton said, had put a strong focus on communicating the brand’s benefits, such as same-day delivery. "Those ads were meeting a business purpose, but they weren’t necessarily being true to that brand purpose," he said. 

The decision to make a longer film was not influenced by the advertising strategy of retailers such as John Lewis & Partners or stablemate Sainsbury’s, Elton noted, but because the team felt the creative idea merited it: "I think the reason was once we’d made the ad, it was such a great story we wanted to do it justice."

Alongside the traditional campaign, which will also take in digital, cinema, out-of-home and print, Argos has also launched a website, The Book of Dreams, featuring digitised versions of classic Argos catalogues dating back to 1974.

In addition, there is a social campaign in which Argos presents personalised catalogues to celebrities including Bill Bailey, who coined the term "laminated book of dreams" in his show Part Troll.

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