“Christmas is What You Make It” Campaign Debuts
Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain founded in 1972, has zero history of any television commercials. Until now. Earlier this month they debuted their first holiday spot, “Sheep,” created by The Richards Group and shot in Iceland.
The 2:30 film that was later cut down to broadcast length is a touching story of a young girl’s desire to do something special for the holidays. It shows her running throughout the rugged landscape of her family’s farm, but the viewer doesn’t know till the very end that she is on a selfless mission to sew a blanket for a sheep she knew her father would be shearing.
The spots will run on all three major networks, Hallmark channels, Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, CMT, DIY, Gameshow Network, Inspiration and various syndicated shows.
AdChat DFW interviewed the copywriter of “Sheep,” Richards Group Creative Group Head, David Morring, about the conceptualization, location decisions and some Christmas magic on the shoot.
AdChat DFW: When did Richards win the Hobby Lobby account?
David: We got the assignment in Spring 2018, but we had started the conversations right before Christmas about a year ago.
AdChat DFW: How did you come up with the concept?
David: Tim Tone, my art director partner, and I, knew we want to do something that was not your average Christmas retail spot or commercial. We didn’t want the visual clichés or the typical music you expect. We wanted something that felt big and was story driven. Hobby Lobby didn’t shy away from using the word Christmas instead of the word Holidays. They embraced that.
Many Hobby Lobby customers start making Christmas gifts six month out. It’s all about giving to others and making something for someone else. When we hit upon the phrase “Christmas is What You Make It” we knew we had something big. It tied in on many different levels. We began exploring ideas that took you to places that were unconventional and less expected.
When we hit upon the story of a little girl on a sheep farm, we knew that was a big idea. As soon as we presented it to Stan Richards, he said we had to produce it.
AdChat DFW: Did you have other spots to present to Hobby Lobby?
David: We presented five or six different spots, but “Sheep” was clearly everyone’s favorite.
AdChat DFW: Was the ending scene intentionally art directed to look like the nativity manger?
David: Yes and no. When we were trying to decide where to shoot, we wanted someplace that felt cold and magical. We considered New Zealand, Chile and Iceland. When we saw the shots of Iceland, we knew that’s the place where it should happen. The magic of the location we chose was it had a big window in the kitchen which allowed us to really connect the mom to the girl and the barn in a single shot. The story was told through the POV of the mother. We believed the viewer would empathize with her the most. So that window really was the magic of the thing.
When we framed up the shot with the barn in it, we hadn’t necessarily decided it would be the end shot of the commercial. But when we saw it framed up in camera we realized it looked like a nativity scene. It just happened. That’s what you want on any production, a little serendipity to create those magical moments.
AdChat DFW: How do you think the spot turned out?
David: It exceeded all of the expectations that we had for it. We knew we had something special on paper, but honestly, I was nervous whether it would live up to the high expectations everyone had for it. But I have the philosophy to always hire people that are better than you, and you let them do their thing. So, between the director, the editor, and the composer, we allowed let them use their talents. We steered and guided them, but they brought it to life in a way that exceeded our expectations. We’re all very pleased with it.
Watch 2:30 version…
An additional spot, “Card,” depicts a lonely grandfather receiving a handmade Christmas card from his grandchild.
Client: Hobby Lobby
Agency: The Richards Group
Campaign: “Christmas Is What You Make It”
Art Director: Tim Tone, Creative Group Head
Copywriter: David Morring, Creative Group Head
Broadcast Producer: Sheri Cartwright
Brand Management: Jon Lee, Nathan Godinez
Production Company: Pulse Films
Director: Benito Montorio
Executive Producer: Davud Karbassioun
Post Production: Cabin Editing Company
Audio Mix: Sam Casas, Lime Studios