Rushed into the closet, it is the shameful secret children hope their friends don't see when they pop round.
In its Christmas spot, McDonald's captures one girl's lifelong relationship with her imaginary friend, in a bid to remind the nation that no-one is ever too old to make-believe.
The 90-second TV ad, called "Imaginary Iggy" by Leo Burnett London, begins with young Matilda, whose imagination comes to life at Christmas in the form of a loveable character named Iggy who has blue fur, stripy socks, horns and a tinsel tail.
Iggy and Matilda bond over the magic of festive rituals but as Matilda grows older and her love of Christmas fades, so too does her relationship with Iggy.
The imaginary pal is cast aside, until one year – after an encounter with a young boy and his reindeer treats (otherwise known as carrots) – Matilda is inspired to reconnect with her imaginary friend.
The TV ad was written and art directed by Leo Burnett creative duo Amy Bushill and Cristina Rosique Gomez and is set to a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time by Brit Awards winner Mabel.
“Ultimately with any work that we do, but especially work at Christmas, we want to move people and make them feel something. Music is massively important to everything that we do. I know it's massively subjective, but it's one of the most incredibly reactive ways to see whether someone is feeling something in a moment,” Chaka Sobhani, global chief creative officer, Leo Burnett, told Campaign.
She continued: “There is this beautiful swell [of music] when Matilda goes to the cupboard to bring Iggy out again as a grown-up. Our hope is that this appeals to as many people as possible, from children to parents, to young people and old people. Most importantly we hope in some shape or form it captures the magic of Christmas and if we've done that, I'll be incredibly proud.”
Premiering tonight (12 November) during Channel 4’s Gogglebox, the coming-of-age spot was directed by Bert & Bertie through Object & Animal.
The campaign will be supported by video on demand and social elements, which draw on the creative of the TV ad. Media planning and buying is being handled by OMD UK.
McDonald’s campaign continues its carrot-centric “#ReindeerReady” creative platform, now in its fifth year. #ReindeerReady has grown year on year and many people believe it has helped McDonald’s find its place among the Christmas festivities.
Michelle Graham-Clare, senior vice-president, chief marketing officer, McDonald’s, said: "Dedicating one of our biggest campaigns of the year to our Reindeer Treat carrot bags is a continued source of surprise for many, but the platform allows us to show our role in the journey to Christmas.
"We’re part of so many people’s journey to the big day – from that Drive-Thru on the way to the family get-together, the McMuffin the morning after the night before and right through to those Reindeer Treats given away in-store on Christmas Eve.
"The platform has allowed us and our partners at Leo Burnett to build on that journey, telling magical stories with our creative and this year’s contribution is no different."
The Reindeer Ready Hub from previous years will also be revived and go live on 1 December. Created by Leo Burnett, the hub includes games, activations and experiences.
Parents will be able to use AR to capture the moment a reindeer enters their home and eats the “reindeer treats” left out by their children and share the video with their children. There will be a 25-day countdown advent with creative daily content such as "How to" crafting videos, colouring sheets and games.
The 360 campaign includes a month of PR and influencer activations supported by the Red Consultancy. Also supporting the campaign will be social filters inviting people to dance along with Iggy, Iggy Christmas tree decorations and Iggy jumpers produced by Leo Burnett and Linneys.
A Happy Meal book and audiobook have been produced featuring a story all about the power of imagination, produced in a collaboration between Leo Burnett and The Marketing Store.
The soundtrack in the ad is available for download, with 10p from each sale going to McDonald’s charity partner, FareShare. As part of this partnership, McDonald’s will also be paying for the redistribution of the equivalent of five million meals to families in need.