LONDON—Children in the U.K. have been so concerned about the impact of the pandemic this Christmas that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to publicly reassure them that Santa is exempt from lockdown restrictions, and thus still able to deliver presents.
With Santa on the minds of many this time of year NHS Charities Together and agency Iris have had him appear in the ad in an unexpected way—as a patient, presumably suffering from Covid-19.
The emotive yet touching digital film, titled “The Gift,” is the nonprofit’s first ad. It pays tribute to efforts of NHS staff and volunteers in treating those with Covid-19 this year. It aims to drive donations to the charity and is part of a wider social, outdoor and retail campaign, with media handled by Havas.
It shows an unwell elderly man admitted to hospital and brought back to health by a nurse. At the end of the spot, after the man recovers and is discharged, the nurse receives a mystery gift and realizes the true identity of her patient.
Real NHS professionals star in the film and helped advise on aspects of the script. The timeframe from Iris’ original idea to final production was just four weeks, the final film was shot via remote Zoom.
British singer and songwriter Birdy recorded an exclusive version of her 2011 track ‘People help the people’ for the campaign. The song was performed and recorded acoustically on her piano at home during lockdown.
Ellie Orton, CEO of NHS Charities Together, said she was in “awe” at what the agency had managed to turn around in such a short amount of time. “It’s been a huge effort and I think the end result is a wonderful tribute to the NHS staff and volunteers who have been there for us in such a difficult year,” she said.
Grant Hunter, global executive creative director at Iris, added: “2020 has been a testing year for all of us and the brilliant NHS front line staff have been selfless in the way they have given their all. This film is a big thank you to them and one we hope connects with people across the U.K.”
The campaign is also being supported by brands including Starbucks, Marmite, Co-op, Swarovski, Batiste and Kindred, which will sell limited-edition items, with part of the proceeds going to the charity.
Client: Ellie Orten, CEO, NHS Charities Together
Lead Strategic and Creative Agency: Iris
Global ECD: Grant Hunter
Creative Director: Daryl Corps
Creatives: Filipa Mauricio & Michael Boszko
Executive Producer: Michael Hanney
Group Account Director: Vicky Marlow
Design: Lolly Morris and Darren Mael
Production Company: Sweetshop
Director: Nicolas Jack Davies
Executive Producer: Morgan Whitlock & Justin Edmund-White
Producer: Jessica Wylie
Production Manager: Manuela Sanchiz Garin
Music Supervisor: Theodore Music
Editor: Billy Mead @ Ten Three
Assistant Editor: Dave Robinson @ Ten Three
Colorist: Simone Grattarola @ Time Based Arts
Sound: Sam Robson @ No.8