Cannes Lions

Have Your Elf a Merry Christmas

HAVAS, London / ASDA / 2023

Case Film
Case Film






In 2021, ASDA was at the start of a turnaround journey. They had ceded their No. 2 market position to Sainsbury’s and were losing customers to discounters who'd been stealing their low price crown, and surpassing them on quality perceptions.

Our campaigns to date had effected some positive change in terms of brand perception, but overall ASDA were still failing to reach their commercial targets, with millions of shoppers leaving for discounters and millions more trading out at key calendar moments like Christmas.

Convincing our most price sensitive shoppers to stay with us at Christmas in the face of Lidl & Aldi's prices would be extremely difficult. Instead we focussed our efforts on persuading less price-sensitive secondary shoppers, who were increasingly unsure about our brand, that they should spend their money with ASDA this Christmas.


The idea of Buddy the Elf as ASDA’s newest employee was born.

A perfect match: Buddy is dressed in green like an ASDA employee and shares our boundless enthusiasm for ‘spreading Christmas cheer’.

With the approval of Warner Bros, we worked with director Danny Kleinman and Framestore to rotoscope Buddy out of the original film and seamlessly integrate footage of Buddy into our film set in an ASDA store at Christmas, showing him interacting with bemused colleagues and customers.

The entire spot was set in ASDA - making it one of the strongest branded Christmas adverts, and ensuring that despite the huge equity that Elf represented, our campaign was firmly linked to ASDA.

We used Buddy to light up our quality and affordability comms - demonstrating our passion for bringing a great Christmas to everyone this year, all at a great price.


We needed to win the battle of attention. In our research across the UK, we heard the stress people were under to provide for their families… but we also heard that they were doing what they could to ‘make Christmas happen’.

This was not a time to remind people of hardship or to take a ‘tearjerker’ approach. It also just wasn’t ASDA. We’re a famously upbeat brand, an everyman to our shoppers. We know what people like and deliver it with a unmistakeable optimism.

So we decided to give the nation the ultimate Christmas ‘feels’. And in a way that was clearly linked to ASDA.

Knowing we were still going to be outgunned in media spend, we focussed on developing a creative vehicle which brought Christmas joy and helped us punch above our weight, a vehicle that had cultural resonance built into

It, to amplify every pound we spent.


The challenge was threefold: the deal brokering over Buddy’s licensing, the creative challenge of providing a narrative that puts a character from 20 years ago, into a modern shopping experience, and finally the compositing and VFX process that seamlessly blended Buddy in ASDA. Once we had an approved script, we worked with the Director to cut a pre-vis using all the shots from the original movie. This phase was crucial as it formed the basis for all the shots that required rotoscoping plus time codes for our Warner Bros footage request. We also worked with ASDA’s store fit team on an extensive set build (shooting at a real store was out of the question as they’re open to customers 24/7). We ordered the same shelving units, bakery unit and tills from their in-store supplier to ensure even ASDA employees couldn’t spot the difference.


A study by System1 and ITV named it the nation's favourite ad of 2022, scoring 5.9 stars and helping ASDA to "win Christmas."

- ASDA sales increased by 6.4%, vs Sainbury’s and Tesco which achieved 6.2% and 6.0% respectively

- 2 million YouTube views & 5 million TikTok views

- Amazon reported record streaming numbers for Elf the Movie

- Elf the Musical saw record ticket sales during the campaign's airing.

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