Jenna Coleman fronts Boots' Christmas ad as 'Joy'

The ad was created by WPP’s The Pharm.

Boots launched its Christmas ad campaign “Bags of Joy” today (4 November), with Doctor Who and The Serpent star Jenna Coleman in the titular role of Joy.

The ad was created by WPP’s specialist unit for Boots, The Pharm, with direction by Academy Award-winning Tom Hooper and soundtrack by Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman OBE.

The three-minute spot will premiere today across Boots’ social channels, with the 60-second ad debuting during The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV on 6 November, and the 30-second ad coming out next week.

The three-minute film follows Jenna Coleman as Joy. Gifted a Mary Poppins-esque bag by her gran in the run-up to Christmas, the bag seems to be host to a seemingly endless amount of gifts – all, naturally, available in Boots.

Revelling in the gifts when she first pours them onto her bed, Joy soon finds even more joy by giving out these gifts to loved ones. A camera for a friend, some false eyelashes for a particularly sombre snowman, and finally, the perfect bottle of perfume for her gran.

An ad rooted in giving and reaching out to loved ones, it is a stark contrast to Boots’ last Christmas campaign, “What the world needs now”, which tackled the topic of hygiene poverty and implored people to donate over the festive season.

Speaking to Campaign, Pete Markey, who joined the company this February as chief marketing officer, said: “I thought last Christmas’s campaign was lovely with how it put the focus on hygiene banks. I think it was the spirit of where we were at last year, which was ‘we’ve had a really rough year, let’s give back and make a difference’”.

It perhaps encapsulated the mood of a nation, but this year, Markey said that it was important for the ad to reclaim the Christmas we couldn’t have in 2020.

“The heart of it is that we didn't have the Christmas we all expected last year. Now, we all want to connect with loved ones again; we want to feel that joyful moment. We want this Christmas to be full of all the memories we missed last year. You want to get the gift right and Boots is the place you can do that.”

However, daily coronavirus infections remain high, with over 33,000 confirmed cases on Tuesday, and the thought of another lockdown is at the back of many people’s minds.

Markey said: “We had a number of those conversations before going into this. From the data, [another lockdown] was looking unlikely and the spirit of Christmas is still there.

“Whatever Christmas we end up having, that sense of connection is still going to matter to people; the human connection of being together is still going to matter in some shape or form. Therefore the campaign is still going to resonate and connect with people.”

Although the ad is in the spirit of giving, climate change and over-consumption are concerns the ad industry is also reckoning with.

The Pharm draws on talent from across WPP's agencies, one of which is VMLY&R. Laurent Simon, the chief creative officer for VMLY&R UK, worked on the campaign and spoke to Campaign on treading the line between encouraging over-consumption and buying responsibly.

“Joy is a Santa-like character with a bottomless bag bringing joy to everyone. This is a shortcut for how you bring joy to other people and you bring joy to yourself.

“A lot of the gifts featured in the ad are eco-friendly and in terms of over-consumption, the gifts are quite tactical and quite thoughtful. So it’s not like everyone is getting 40,000 gifts, everyone is getting their own special gift.”

Boots will also run a media-first partnership with Sky TV, using QR codes to take people directly to the Boots website. Brand activations will also appear online, on the radio, digital out of home, print, and in-store.

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