The Waitrose 2016 Christmas ad really works. The heart-warming tale of a plucky robin battling the odds on his annual migration from the Scandinavian forests to a British back garden was an almost guaranteed winner, of course, particularly with the technical advice of ecologist Chris Baines to make sure that the robin’s behaviour and calls were just right.
But for me there’s another theme, too.
If the robin is the hero, then the heroine (I still think in terms of heroes and heroines, rather than protagonists) is undoubtedly the girl who waits for him, and she is such a well-rounded creation. She is definitely not one of the cool kids: a bit gawky, with no curls or designer clothes; obviously sensitive, lying awake listening to the storm, worrying for ‘her’ robin and more likely to be writing-up her journal on Christmas morning than ripping through must-have Christmas presents; poised uncomfortably in the margins between childhood and adolescence, at an age when life’s certainties begin to crumble a little. She is not conventionally ‘pretty-pretty’ but is soon revealed to possess a beautiful spirit and a beautiful smile. She has strong nurturing instincts, but is still young enough to skip a little when happy. She is a lovely, complex creation, and Waitrose deserve full credit for shying away from the obvious in creating a real person.
The ad in its original form is here, but between 8 and 9 pm yesterday, the ad on television included a delightful blink-and-you-miss-it additional scene (not in the version launched last week) in which the girl runs out to chase
sparrows pigeons away from the robin’s waiting mince pie. I wonder if the ad will continue to develop over the next few weeks. In the version read by Michael Morpurgo here, the robin spends some time flying with a flock of migrating fieldfares. I’d love to see that.
This is not a sponsored post. And in case you’re wondering whether it’s really fine to feed mince pies to the garden birds, there’s some great advice here.
All images © Waitrose.
© Lipgloss & Wellies 2016.