The music is so good this edition, and the production tricks are sharp. This provides clear evidence that we're now past the All Saints Day hump and entering adland's emotional and budgetary sweet spot.
Lotsa seasonal stuff to get through, but our European ad spotlight goes to "Before It's Too Late" by Stockholm's Stadsmissionen (Stockholm's City Mission). The drama is heavy but used to fine effect. Created by Giants & Toys and TBWA\Stockholm with director Farzad Farzaneh, it wends backwards through a homeless woman's life. Production-wise, it's a revealing rewind (though, alas, among the few campaigns here that isn't musically bangin').
Nobody tees us up for the holidaze like U.K. grocers and department stores. Waitrose doesn't disappoint. "It's Time for the GOOD Stuff," by Saatchi & Saatchi London and directed by Autumn De Wilde, is flanked by Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough." It sports a Graham Norton cameo and is jam-packed with corny, besequinned enthusiasm. A feel-good endorphin spike to prime viewers for the commercial barrage to come. Bring on the gravy-thick emotions, the Mariah Carey covers, the complicated Santas!
We love seeing a jinn-like fire in people's eyes. There's lots of that in "Follow Your Spark" by Digital Cinema Media for BAFTA, promoting the U.K. org's bursary program for young creatives. "A single spark can light the way, so our reality can catch up with our vision," says charismatic actor Micheal Ward. Money is means. When it flows into certain hands, it's a vote for a different kind of world.
The best thing about "Open a World of Possibilities," for the Kia EV9 by Innocean Berlin, is the song—Låpsley's "Painter"—and the tundra, both of which lend a sense of the epic. Does the EV9 merit such treatment? I'm sure it does to someone. Regardless, this wouldn't be the first time vast landscapes and an esoteric bop were used to make a car feel pregnant with meaning.
"Festive Farm," the Christmas ad for TK Maxx by Wieden+Kennedy London, brings back a stylish goat from its 2020 spot. It's got new friends: a stylin' alpaca, ducks sartorially inspired by Harry Styles and a hedgehog in cashmere. The beat-drop comes courtesy of Eve and Gwen Stefani: "Let Me Blow Ya Mind." We'll take any excuse to rock to this, even this one.
Lionel Messi won his eighth Ballon d'Or. Lay's is very proud, and wants some of that GOAT halo, so it created a strange mixed-reality video featuring a celebratory chips bag, Messi's likeness and the Eiffel Tower. The whole thing feels like a photobomb, but what is bombing what, exactly? Messi posted it on his socials like a good sport.
KFC's "Forever Crispy" by Havas Paris features a bespoke track by HRCLS and depicts a retro-futuristic KFC Universe. Directed by Romain Chassaing, Havas dubs it a "crossroads between Blade Runner and The Fifth Element." We were thinking Minority Report (for the hologrammery) and Demolition Man (the kids are literally jamming to a jingle). But we get that KFC might not savor that in less than 30 years, its entire raison d'être might be subsumed by Taco Bell. Anyhow, great world-building here.
Get a load of "All the Calls" for Britain's Gala Bingo by Neverland. We've never seen a bingo ad before, and are surprised by how beautiful this one is. We blame the song—what is that? We can't put a finger on it—and the production strategy: a heavy slowdown of neighborhood life. After a time, we start feeling weirdly heartbroken. Maybe it's because seeing life at this speed (or lack thereof) illustrates how earnestly we strive to live, even when we're not doing it consciously.
This strategy is also functional: Viewers are invited to "find all 90 bingo calls." The work was shot by attaching a super-high-speed camera to an electric bike, which sped through the carefully choreographed action at 30 mph.
There's leftover Halloween work to get through. You probably don't need anyone to tell you "Not All Horror Is Fiction," but agency at-thetable doubles down on that for Belgian animal rights organization Gaia. Its campaign reprises the style of old horror film posters to emphasize the nightmarish treatment animals suffer for our sakes. "Castration Chamber" appears below, but also see "Force-Fed" and "Labrats." (Extra credit: Pair this with the insouciantly gluttonous Waitrose work!)
"This is not an ad; it's a warning." Actually, this is an ad—a rhythmically rich, vibey spot for Andalucia Tourism by Ogilvy Spain. It's got so much duende that it pounds in our blood, like Paco de Lucía's devilish strumming. The narrator also appears at the end, a chef's-kiss cameo. A heady digestif to finish the week!