Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s launches its Christmas ad today in a school play extravaganza that bears a striking similarity to the John Lewis Bohemian Rhapsody production.
In an unfortunate twist, Sainsbury’s had already planned and partly filmed its feelgood nativity when a Queen-inspired John Lewis and Waitrose re-launch campaign featuring a school play, hit telly screens last month.
But with The Greatest Showman director Michael Gracey behind the Sainsbury’s cameras, the supermarket vowed “the show must go on” and will raise the curtain on its feelgood musical during the Coronation Street ad break on ITV tonight.
And he has sprinkled Hollywood stardust on the energetic two minute spectacle which puts a gold star played by eight-year-old Tia Isaac centre stage.
She starts the school Christmas play nervously and looks anxious as she starts to tentatively sing the first line of the Nineties anthem You Get What You Give by The Radicals.
But after a reassuring nod from her screen mum who is in the audience, she shines as she grows in confidence and belts out the hit song in a rousing version straight out of Gracey’s smash hit movie as she is hoisted up to the top of a giant Christmas tree.
Despite her dazzling performance, two “bit part characters” – a plug and a purple bauble steal the show with their hilarious on-stage antics that will melt viewers’ hearts.
The three-pin plug played by ten-year-old Harrison Wilmot leaps across the stage and somehow manages to connect with a socket in an ingenious moment of Gracey magic.
And bubbly Maddison Platt aged six, is the adorable glittering tree bauble who gets left behind when the curtains close and has to fight her way through the heavy material to join the rest of the 50-strong cast.
Some of the ad’s best bits are in behind the scenes footage which can only be viewed online but feature hilarious clips of the kids’ cast talking about their roles.
Harrison tells viewers: “My costume is really cool but its confusing – I’m playing a plug.”
And Maddison is so thrilled with her costume she tells viewers she adores purple and glitter adding: “My costume’s very purple, just like I wanted it to be – very beautiful.”
In another clip she topples over in her gear as she rehearses dance steps and as she struggles to get up she says: “I’m OK.”
Work on The Big Night started in January and Sainsbury’s head of broadcast marketing Laura Boothby revealed there were no plans to can it after John Lewis and Waitrose used a school play as the theme of their re-branding campaign.
She said: “Every school will be doing a Christmas play – there were never any plans to shelve ours.
“The school show is a flagship Christmas moment for many – the evenings spent frantically learning lines, the inventive costumes – the whole family truly plays a part. This made it the perfect setting to bring our Christmas message to life – watching little ones give all they’ve got, for their loved ones watching on.
“We have set out to create an advert that captures the passion, emotion and excitement of the festive season, in a setting that’s familiar to us all – no matter how old we are.
“Customers tell us that what matters most to them at Christmas is spending time together with family and friends and making it truly special for them – and that’s what giving all you’ve got is about.”
And director Mr Gracey added: “Fuelled by the passion and talent of an incredible cast and crew, we set out to craft an ad that embodies the joy and imagination of the festive season. We hope it’s a message that resonates with people from all walks of life this Christmas.”