Banned Iceland Christmas ad mixes techniques to powerful effect

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – especially for TV advertisers. Brands vie for attention and affection with heart-warming campaigns. We see live-action ads, animated ads, and a few that mix techniques.

Mixing media has long been employed by advertisers to communicate information simply and effectively. In fact, the first ever TV advert broadcast in Britain in 1955 – for toothpaste – did just that, switching from actor to animated chart to explain the “science bit”.

This year, Iceland’s Christmas ad, originally created by Greenpeace, invites us to invest in the story of Rang-tan, an orangutan living in a girl’s bedroom. The animation is simple and sweet, told from the girl’s perspective.

Halfway through, we switch from hand-drawn 2D animation to a bleaker, 3D realism to see what lies behind Rang-tan’s displacement. The sudden change in style is jarring, disrupting our expectations of how the story will end, and highlighting the startling reality of deforestation caused by palm oil farming.

Mixing media is an interesting way to help viewers connect with the story. The sudden, unexpected contrast makes the story more memorable.

Making an emotional connection

A recent WaterAid/Andrex ad also uses mixed media to achieve similar results. By mixing live-action and frame-by-frame animation, it creates a strong emotional connection to the central story and main character Sanjida.

The film opens on a live-action sequence with a toilet roll being threaded onto a film reel. We follow the paper, frame-by-frame, as it becomes a hand-painted animated sequence, showing what life was like in the past and how new toilet facilities have affected local communities.

At the end of the story, we switch back to live-action to see the real Sanjida with her family, taking viewers out of the animated world and back to reality.

Animation gives storytellers additional ways to drive emotional connections with viewers. Mixing different techniques can lead to surprising and powerful results, and not just at Christmas. Get in touch to find out how your organisation can use animation to get your message across.

By Brook Morgan