In a distinct departure from last year's upbeat, quirky campaign featuring Aubrey Plaza, H&M gives us surprisingly introverted holiday fare.
"Moments in Between" was shot in London with a huge cast, including Manchester City soccer player Raheem Sterling and his family. Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" provides an instant emotional timestamp, casting everything we see with a tint of nostalgia, familiarity and loneliness.
We open on a fish and chips shop, where a single employee oversees a single diner; then jump to a near-empty bus, where a woman sits alone. Later we visit Sterling and his family, in the lull between holiday entertainments.
All this sounds sadder than it is, for the work is replete with lovely moments—quiet intimacies in bed, smiles exchanged at the laundromat, and a couple driving through a neighborhood, checking out the Christmas lights.
Of late, H&M's working overtime to be seen as a more serious, conscious brand that isn't all about disposable fashion. But between its designer collaborations and other promotions, it mostly vibes as a party brand for people who like to play with looks—a convenient positioning that lets it showcase all the diverse stuff you can have.
That's part of what makes "Moments in Between" such a pleasant surprise. Its quaint calm draws a sharp contrast to how people typically approach the holidays, both in reality and in advertising—bright lights, a marathon of shopping, dinners and political family cameos, and too much of everything: noise, shiny paper, presents opened and almost immediately forgotten, running kids.
It's a grace period from work (for some, anyway), which, for active participants, can feel like a full-time job. We're reminded of Christine Rai's illustration from last year, which encapsulates that sense of being perpetually hung over, too full and yet still on the way somewhere.
Somewhere in the middle of "Moments in Between," everybody starts kissing, then a giant group of youths invade the fish and chips shop to bring the party to their friend. It smacks of a moment we've lived before, in some variation or another. (The one diner is not delighted by this, which only makes it feel more real.)
Back on the bus, an off-duty Santa softly greets the lone woman. She smiles to herself as he exits.
What H&M's managed to do is reveal an oft-forgotten truth: This period of cold weather, warm woolies, gift giving and baked goods is shorthand for expressing love. And love is nurtured by intimacy—itself a quiet, cultivated thing, best found when you're not "on" for the crowd.
Here, we get gorgeous little peeks at the intimacy of others. But the work also creates intimacy with us, letting us into spaces that feel parenthetical because they do not throb with aggressive cheer. These are the secret places where people are living in between, around, and sometimes even despite all the bells-jingling.
Creative: Samuel Åkesson
Director: Max Vitali
Producer: Sofia Björkman
Agency Producer: Alexander Blidner
Stylist: Denise Östholm
DOP: Gösta Reiland
Editor: Johan Wik