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Reinventing High Fashion Holidays

by Emily Gray

Every Christmas, as the glow of the Christmas tree lights up our living room, a familiar family tradition unfolds in our living room. There, in her favourite fireside armchair, my mum assumes her role as the unsolicited yet astute critic of the season's advertising fare. It's the high-end luxury ads that particularly ignite her fiery commentary — a fantastical realm of advertising that she finds especially nonsensical.

These ads follow a predictable yet pretentious template. There’s Ana Taylor-Joy, gracefully navigating the labyrinthine world of Dior, or Marion Cotillard’s lunar dance for Chanel. But nothing gets under mum’s skin quite like Johnny Depp’s wolf desert escapade. Each ad, in its bid for opulence, ends up feeling formulaic. Insert celebrity ambassador, edit a disjointed kaleidoscope of vignettes, overlay whimsical music… 

Breaking with convention, Burberry’s 2020 campaign ‘Festive’ is a refreshing change to the glossy veneer of luxury advertising. The spot instead offers an authentic, fresh and cinematic take on how to cut through at Christmas

Reinvention for new luxury audiences

At the heart of Burberry’s brand strategy is its rich British heritage. However to ensure the brand stays relevant to both traditional luxury buyers and younger demographics like Gen Z, Burberry needed to blend classic with a more innovative modern outlook. 

The 2020 Festive campaign encapsulated this blend by reinterpreting classic motifs with modern twists. The idea for the story actually came from going back through Burberry’s storied history, says creators Megaforce “The founder, Thomas Burberry, created innovative weatherproof clothing that was used by polar explorers, which gave us this idea of a story that saw its characters braving the elements with ease”. In this modern interpretation of braving the elements, we see a group of Londoners braving the iconic London drizzle. Only in this fantastical version, the rain has become giant ice blocks and we watch as our Burberry heroes gracefully and joyfully manoeuvre around the adversity they face. 

Reinvention is around every corner. The music, a modern and unique re-interpretation of the classic 1950’s film title song Singing in the Rain accentuates the expressive movement of the Burberry clad heroes. Every decision in the creative process has been very carefully crafted to communicate this idea of classic with a modern twist. The use of the iconic Burberry check pattern in new, vibrant colourways appealed to a broader demographic. The heroes’ products selected not only paid homage to Burberry’s legacy but also showcased its dynamic adaptability leveraging sensibilities from streetwear brands.

The campaign’s hero asset was recut for social and helped to extend the virality of the film in the native channels of the growth audiences reaching well over 2m organically on Instagram alone.




Breaking with convention 

Aesthetic and Tone

Convention 💎: Classic luxury ads often focus on elegance, exclusivity, and have a dreamlike quality, showcasing products in aspirational, often unattainable settings.

Burberry 👫: Burberry’s Festive campaign opted for a more grounded approach, focusing on human experience and friendship in the face of adversity​​.


Celebrity Focus

Convention 🌟: They typically leverage high-profile celebrity endorsements, focusing on the star’s glamour and status.

Burberry 🤝: Instead of solely relying on celebrities, the campaign featured a mix of models, dancers, and the broader campaign activation included notable collaboration with Marcus Rashford, focusing on community empowerment​​.


Imagery and Setting: 

Convention 🏰: Settings are often exotic or highly stylized, underlining the brand’s exclusivity and opulence.

Burberry 🏙️: It would have been easy for Burberry to have chosen a more polished, glamorous looking location for the backdrop of this story but they understood that urban edge is part of Burberry’s appeal. Opening the ad in a chip shop, Burberry sets a stage of cinematic anticipation, leading to a delightful surprise as viewers recognize the Burberry brand.



Convention 🛍️:These ads tend to be product-focused, highlighting the luxury item’s features and design.

Burberry 🧥: While hero products were featured, the campaign transcended traditional product-centric advertising by ensuring the product integration is natural. The spot is still heavily branded and showcases the iconic Burberry hooded puffer alongside hero ‘Pocket Bag’. It leaves you thinking, what else would you face a giant ice storm in? 

The Burberry 2020 Festive campaign is a stellar example of how a luxury brand can remain true to its roots while innovating for the modern consumer. Its success lies in the strategic blend of heritage and modernity, the ingenious use of digital storytelling, community integration, and a creative approach that transcends traditional fashion advertising. Best of all, there isn’t even one bauble or Santa Claus in sight!


Watch the spot here


Want more Christmas themed strategy goodness? Check out the latest from James Needham on the Science of Behind Silly Season

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Emily Gray

→ Emily Gray brings extensive knowledge from her combined agency, client, and startup background, having worked with brands such as Diageo, Bank of New York, Vanguard, ANZ, SchweppesAsahi and O2. She specialises in connecting creativity and commercial outcomes and is a trusted advisor to both CMOs and CXOs alike.

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