On McDonald’s ‘Reindeer Ready’ series

McDonald’s UK has been making Christmas-themed ad films for a long time.

For example, in 2016, Leo Burnett London produced the ‘Juliette the Doll’ film that, like Pinocchio, has a wooden puppet doll coming alive.

In 2017, McDonald’s UK and Leo Burnett London started a series called “Reindeer Ready”!

The theme, and the consistency to stick to the theme, makes it an interesting series to watch in retrospect, considering they have just launched the 2020 version.

Here’s the 2017 version – the first in the series. The narrative focus is on the child and the fact that McDonald’s UK has a new season-centric range available. Unlike the previous year’s film, there’s no use of animation.

The 2018 story takes a departure in narrative focus – instead of being centered on the people, it focuses on Father Christmas and his reindeers! And the availability of reindeer treats at McDonald’s. This one too is not animated and uses visual effects really well, much like movies.

The 2019 film is my personal favorite in the series. This film is animated, but not fully – and that’s where the enjoyable twist is! You are better off finding it yourself 🙂

It builds a question in your mind as you notice something unusual happening. You may be guessing what it could actually be, till it is revealed as the narrative moves from ‘animated’ to live video! And what a beautiful, contextual reveal that is!

The latest film released last week is a good watch too and is fully animated. The theme of listening to our inner child is depicted literally to great effect, though I believe that the narrative veers off the need for reindeer treats and centers more on the emotions of the people involved (which is a different focus) and keeps the product incidental. The film has a tween/teen not wanting to be his real self possibly owing to the age and the need to fit into some notion of how he should behave. But his mother persists and gets the inner child out.

The 2019 film had everything in perfect dose and poise – it was about the emotions, the innocence of childhood linked to Christmas and the ‘reindeer treats’ product’s need and context. The mix was just beautifully balanced in 2019.

The 2017 and 2019 films get the focus best, giving a reason for parents to inculcate a sense of mystery and magic in their children during the Christmas season and gives a contextual reason to drive to a McDonald’s to buy the product in question. When seen as a series, it seems easier to identify which films got their focus right, than when we see the 2020 film in isolation – it’s a lovely watch, but in comparison, it seems to veer away from its core job.

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